Thursday, July 04, 2013

Berthiaume on Canada and UKUSA spying

"Canada’s close intelligence-sharing relationship with U.S. spy agencies appears to have spared it from the type of intrusive surveillance that has prompted outrage in Germany, France and other European Union nations," reports Lee Berthiaume ("Canada protected from U.S. snooping thanks to cozy intelligence relationship," Canada.com, 2 July 2013). "But the bigger question, says one leading intelligence expert, is whether Canada is snooping on its supposed friends and allies as well."

Berthiaume's report notes that the NSA's intelligence targets include "allies, such as Japan and South Korea, and friends such as India and Turkey", as well as more traditional targets such as Russia, China, and Middle Eastern countries.
But Canada is among a small group of nations the U.S. National Security Agency calls “2nd party partners” that are exempt from such snooping, according to a top-secret document cited by German news magazine Der Spiegel.

“The NSA does NOT target its 2nd party partners, nor request that 2nd parties do anything that is inherently illegal for NSA to do,” the document reportedly reads.

The others are the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, who together with the U.S. and Canada comprise what is called the Five Eyes partnership.
Technical aside here: All the UKUSA (AKA Five Eyes) SIGINT agencies refer to their partners as Second Parties. Even the mighty NSA is a Second Party to CSE, DSD, GCHQ, etc. (See, e.g., PDF page 121 here.)

Berthiaume also quotes Wesley Wark to the effect that the UKUSA allies do not target each other:
Wesley Wark, a leading intelligence expert at the University of Ottawa, said there are likely some instances of Five Eyes members spying on each other, but that would be the extreme exception rather than the rule.

“The rule among the Five Eyes partners is that they don’t spy on each other, and that’s a long-standing convention that goes back decades,” Wark said. “There’s never really been any evidence in the public domain that that convention has ever been systematically broken.”
I think what Wark says is correct, but I'd very much like to see a good explanation for the Boundless Informant "heatmap" that the Guardian published recently. As I noted here, the map shows that in March 2013 the NSA was able to access nearly as much Internet-related metadata (and possibly much of the actual data as well) sourced to Canada as it did metadata sourced to Mexico. Which is more, by the way, than that sourced to many European Union states, although not France or Germany.

Does the Boundless Informant map represent NSA collection in Canada? Collection of cross-border communications between Canada and the U.S.? Access to Canadian e-mail and data stored in U.S. cloud computing sites? Canadian data voluntarily provided to the NSA by Canadian authorities? Some combination of all of the above?

Let's have an explanation of that map before we accept too readily that monitoring of Canadians by our UKUSA allies is rare or nonexistent.

As for the second question in the article -- is Canada also snooping on friends and allies like Japan and South Korea? -- the answer is certainly yes.

At least, it was in the mid-1990s, when former CSE linguist Jane Shorten blew the whistle on Canadian monitoring of friendly countries, including specifically Japan, South Korea, and Mexico.

Does anyone really think that things have changed since then?

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