Saturday, December 21, 2013

U.S. metadata ruling: Consequences for Canada?

CSEC and CSIS were not the only spy agencies to face a "thundering rebuke" in the courts recently. The U.S. National Security Agency also had a very bad week (news article; judicial ruling).

This Global News report asks whether U.S. developments will have any effect on the B.C. Civil Liberties Association's lawsuit (see also here), launched in October, concerning CSEC's use of Canadian communications and metadata (Nick Logan, "NSA rulings could help Canadian group argue case against CSEC," Global News, 20 December 2013):
Two rulings on U.S. surveillance activities this week could be useful for a Canadian group seeking limits on domestic intelligence gathering.

“We’re pleased that there is a process ongoing, at least in the United States, to create a balance between the protection of national security and the protection of privacy and free expression in the U.S.,” said Caily DiPuma, counsel for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA).

BCCLA launched a lawsuit in October to challenge “the collection of Canadians’ private communications and metadata — which includes phone numbers, length of phone calls, email and IP addresses — by the Communications Security Establishment (CSEC).

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled on Monday the National Security Agency’s (NSA) telephony metadata gathering program was likely unconstitutional and he granted a preliminary injunction against the further collection of phone records. ...

“Judge Leon’s decision found a right of privacy in telephone metadata and that ruling is essential to a proper finding in our case. So of course we would refer the court to his reasoning there,” [DiPuma] said. “Obviously the Canadian court would not be bound by it, but it would certainly add some sort of persuasive value to our argument.”

Like the U.S. lawsuit, the BCCLA case was born out of the release of classified documents, leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, that revealed secret programs the U.S. and its partners used to monitor telecommunications.
The report also quotes former CSEC Chief John Adams, who reiterates his support for creation of a parliamentary review committee. (Note, however, that Adams was Chief of CSEC from 2005 to 2012, not 2005 to 2007.)

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