Friday, September 20, 2013

Binney to Canadians: Watch CSE

NSA official turned whistleblower William Binney warns Canadians to keep an eye on CSE (Colin Freeze, "Beware of data spying, former NSA official warns Canadians," Globe and Mail, 19 September 2013):
A former top U.S. surveillance official is heading north, to warn Canadians that they, too, could become susceptible to massive data-spying programs launched by their own government.

“Every democracy is going this way,” William Binney, a former technical director of the U.S. National Security Agency, said ahead of a planned trip to a civil-liberties conference in Toronto on Friday.

“Unless democracies wake up and start saying ‘We don’t want our government to hold this data,’ then they have a really good chance of losing their democracy.”

Speaking from his home near Fort Meade, Md., – in a phone interview that he said would certainly be transcribed by the U.S. authorities – the crypto-mathematician recalled how he spent decades working for the NSA before his relationship with U.S. security agencies soured.

During his career, he said, he had many opportunities to assess the capabilities of Canada’s electronic-eavesdropping technicians. And “some of them are as good as anybody over here.”

Yet, while Mr. Binney compliments the surveillance acumen of Communications Security Establishment Canada, he also urged the Canadian public to scrutinize CSEC – especially given its long-standing close ties to the NSA.

“They have integrated reps,” he said, referring to how the agencies swap personnel. He pointed out that they also share technology, such as a very powerful, recently revealed Internet-surveillance tool, code-named “XKeyscore.”

CSEC and NSA have been allies since forming as “foreign intelligence” agencies during the Cold War.
Indeed, the signals intelligence alliance goes back to the Second World War, pre-dating the formal creation of both countries' current agencies.

Freeze's article also quotes CSE's standard assurance that “CSEC does not direct its activities at Canadians and is prohibited by law from doing so.”

Unfortunately, as I explain here, that's only "true" if you add a secret asterisk or two.

It's long past time for CSE to stop with the bullshit. In the meantime, Canadians would do well to listen very closely to the warnings of people like Mr. Binney.

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