Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rigby, Coulombe, and Forster testimony

On February 3rd, National Security Advisor Stephen Rigby, CSIS Director Michel Coulombe, and CSEC Chief John Forster testified before the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. The transcript of that session is available online. (See also Forster's prepared remarks here.)

The session covered a lot of interesting ground, ranging from the number of Canadian extremists thought to be in Syria (about 30) to the news that the government is appealing the recent Mosley decision concerning Five Eyes monitoring of Canadians abroad. The primary topic of discussion during the session, however, was CSEC's IP Profiling Analytics & Mission Impacts document, AKA the "Airport wi-fi" story, which the CBC had revealed just four days earlier.

By now, we all know the basic substance of the official explanation for the project: the whole thing was perfectly legal, it was just a study used to develop techniques for finding foreign terrorists and kidnappers, and it wasn't even about Canadians or persons in Canada (despite the fact that the data used were derived almost exclusively from persons in Canada).

But it's still interesting to see exactly what was said.

In reading the testimony, I got the distinct impression that as part of the Five Eyes effort to master the global internet, CSEC collects, uses, and stores (for a classified period of time) pretty much all of the Canadian communications metadata it can lay its hands on.

Background here and here.

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