Thursday, May 30, 2013

Media irony watch

Oh, the irony.

The Globe and Mail published an article yesterday with the title "Communications Security Establishment's activities kept well under wraps".

But then they made it available only to their subscribers.

What's in the piece? I don't know. It's under wraps.

[Update 2 June 2013: Well, I've had a look at the piece, which is really quite interesting. Reporter Colin Freeze explains his recent efforts to learn how much support CSE is providing to other government departments under Part C of its mandate and whether that support has been increasing in recent years. Part C is the part of CSE's mandate that enables it to spy on Canadians as long as it is done in response to a request from a Canadian agency with the legal authority to do so.

The upshot: CSE responded to his Access to Information request with a selection of charts from which almost all useful information had been redacted. Mr. Freeze helpfully shared the response here. CSE's response did, however, include a couple of interesting snippets of information. The charts show that CSE is currently providing "Support to Lawful Access" to only four agencies: the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Department of National Defence, and the Canadian Border Services Agency. Also, the unredacted axis of one of the charts shows that no agency has made more than 60 requests in a single year in recent years. This fairly low number may be, as Freeze suggests, "somewhat reassuring", although I'd like to know whether such requests always relate to a single individual or could include a group or even class of individuals before I'll be entirely reassured.]

[Update 26 November 2013: Colin Freeze, "CSIS not being forthcoming with court, federal judge says," Globe and Mail, 25 November 2013: "Records this week released to The Globe under Access to Information laws show that CSEC receives a total of between 70 and 80 such “support to lawful access requests,” each year from CSIS, the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and National Defence."

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