Monday, September 07, 2015

Recent items of interest

Recent news and commentary related to CSE or signals intelligence in general (catching up from the beginning of the summer):

- Doug Saunders, "How do you spot the next terrorist?" Globe and Mail, 15 August 2015.

- Mike Zajko, "Canada’s cyber security and the changing threat landscape," Intermediation blog, 8 August 2015.

- Christopher Parsons & Tamir Israel, "Canada’s Quiet History of Weakening Communications Encryption," Telecom Transparency Project, 7 August 2015.

- Graham Templeton, "When Canada Learned It Had Spies," Motherboard, 5 August 2015. More about the original documentary here and here.

- "Extract of Pages from the CSE intranet, 2014,", 3 August 2015. Some very interesting information in this material obtained through the Access to Information Act, including the fact that CSE's intranet provides "clocks" showing the time of day at CSE and five of its partner agencies: the other four members of the Five Eyes and a fifth agency, the identity of which is redacted. (See page 187.) Who is the secret partner? ISNU seems like the likely candidate, but that's just a guess.

- Duncan Campbell, "GCHQ and Me: My Life Unmasking British Eavesdroppers," The Intercept, 3 August 2015. The story of one of the pioneers of public investigation of signals intelligence. Long a personal inspiration to me, Duncan was recently a co-author of a report that I also worked on.

- Justin Ling, "Anonymous Vows to Keep Leaking Canadian Spy Secrets Over Police Shooting," Vice News, 28 July 2015. The main part of the story concerns a document about CSIS foreign stations that was leaked by Anonymous. However, in a video accompanying the leak the group also claimed that "shortly after [the Conservatives won] a majority in 2011, the NSA discovered that Stephen Harper had grown a bit too big for his Christian britches. He and the Canadian [sic] Security Establishment were attempting to spy on their Five Eyes partners in the US. Obama's top intelligence officials were furious when they caught CSE in the act. They vowed to kill off Harper's number one priority, the KXL pipeline." No evidence was provided for this assertion, however. See also Adrian Humphreys, "Anonymous says it hacked Canada’s security secrets in retaliation for police shooting of B.C. activist," National Post, 25 July 2015; Claire Wählen, "‘Anonymous’ starts slow leaking of cabinet confidences, CSE spy attempts," iPolitics, 27 July 2015; and "Anonymous CSIS document leak probed by RCMP, CSE," CBC News, 28 July 2015. Related: "Exclusive Interview: #Anonymous’ #OpCyberPrivacy Celebrates #AntiCanadaDay on #CanadaDay," The Cryptosphere, 1 July 2015.
[Update 26 September 2015: Anonymous now claims it was CSIS, not CSE, that was caught spying on the U.S.]

- Jim Bronskill, "File breach at electronic spy agency prompts mandatory privacy training," Canadian Press, 27 July 2015.

- Alex Boutilier, "A Canadian Snowden? CSE warns of “insider threats”," Toronto Star, 26 July 2015.

- Scott Vrooman, "Canada's electronic spy agency fears threat of informed public," Toronto Star, 22 July 2015 (video).

- Susana Mas, "Steven Blaney announces new funding for cyber security," CBC News, 22 July 2015. Truly the Groundhog Day of national security stories.

- "Minister Fantino and Minister Aglukkaq Announce Upgrades to Northern Defence Infrastructure in Alert and Iqaluit," News Release, Department of National Defence, 15 July 2015. "In Alert, the water treatment system will be upgraded with a new 257,000-litre tank part – along with repairs to the flooring and the structure of the water treatment plant building." Who says the government never provides information to the media?

- Justin Ling, "Canadian Police, Spies Eyed Hacking Team Tech — and the Law Now Makes it Easier to Acquire," Vice News, 13 July 2015.

- Wesley Wark, "The summer of cyber attacks," Ottawa Sun, 3 July 2015.

- Jim Bronskill, "Government abruptly drops Supreme Court appeal on overseas CSIS spying," Canadian Press, 7 July 2015. When the government launched its Supreme Court appeal of Justice Mosley's 2013 ruling, it wanted the Court to clarify "the scope of the Federal Court's jurisdiction under s. 21 of the CSIS Act to issue warrants governing the interception of communications of Canadians by foreign agencies at Canada's request" and to determine whether such warrants are even "required". (It had earlier advanced the theory that such warrants are not required.) It also told the Court that the Canadian public is "entitled to know what constraints are imposed on CSIS in this regard." The legal situation changed somewhat following the passage of Bills C-44 and C-51, but, as Bronskill's article notes, the question of when warrants are needed remains: "With the government now abandoning the case, the court won’t have an opportunity to set out “when CSIS is going to need to get these warrants in the first place,” said Carmen Cheung, senior counsel at the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association." Maybe the government has decided that this is something they would rather not know, because they might not like the answer?

- "Federal intelligence agency [CSE] denies its website was hacked," CTV News, 2 July 2015. Earlier: "Cyberattack takes down CSIS website," CTV News, 29 June 2015. Just a DDoS attack, so no need to hyperventilate...

- Dave Pugliese, "Federal departments jockey to take over former e-spy headquarters," Ottawa Citizen, 1 July 2015.

- Jenna McLaughlin, "Canadian Surveillance Agency Says Snowden Leaks Were Damaging, Because We Say So," The Intercept, 1 July 2015.

- Christopher Parsons, "Industry Canada Transparency Report Guidelines Intensely Problematic," Telecom Transparency Project, 30 June 2015. The Guidelines.

- Justin Ling, "New WikiLeaks Documents Allege ‘Economic Espionage’ Against France By US and Allies," Vice News, 29 June 2015.

- Paul Heinbecker & Daniel Livermore, "Who speaks for Canada, spies or diplomats?" Globe and Mail, 29 June 2015.

- "CSE says Snowden leaks eroding spy agency's long-term advantage over terrorists," Canadian Press, 26 June 2015.

- Craig Forcese, "One Warrant to Rule Them All: Re-Conceiving the Judicialization of Extraterritorial Intelligence Collection," National Security Law blog, 24 June 2015.

- Jim Bronskill, "Spies wanted mere info-sharing tweaks, government ushered in total overhaul," Canadian Press, 24 June 2015.

- Craig Forcese, "Stumbling toward Total Information Awareness: The Security of Canada Information Sharing Act," National Security Law blog, 24 June 2015.

- Ben Makuch & Justin Ling, "Anonymous Claims Responsibility for Cyber Attack on Canadian Government Websites," Vice News, 17 June 2015.

- Craig Forcese, "Cops without Borders: The RCMP's long anti-terror arm," National Security Law blog, 13 June 2015.

- Christopher Parsons, "‘Defending the Core’ of the Network: Canadian vs. American Approaches," Telecom Transparency Project, 10 June 2015. EONBLUE compared to U.S. approaches.

- Steven Chase, "Canada vastly expands data collection of travellers, boosts spy agency budget," Globe and Mail, 4 June 2015.

- Two Years After Snowden: Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Mass Surveillance, Privacy International & Amnesty International, 4 June 2015.

- Christopher Parsons, "New Update to the SIGINT Summaries," Technology, Thoughts & Trinkets blog, 2 June 2015.

Not in the news: The CSE Commissioner's 2014-2015 annual report. Normally, it would have been made public by now, but I suppose it can't be tabled in parliament while that august institution is technically dissolved.

Or maybe there's actually something newsworthy in it for a change.

SIGINT history

Former CSE employee Ron Lawruk recently published a book about his time working at the agency: Out of the Shadows: The Life of a CSE Canadian Intelligence Officer, Friesen Press, 2015. I haven't read it yet, so can't pronounce an opinion on it, but it is clear that he's not a critic of his former employer. From the book's website:
In this first-hand account as an intelligence officer with the Communications Security Establishment at the Canadian Department of National Defense, author Ronald Lawruk describes the Cold War years with an insider’s perspective. The nature of his work required him to be highly secretive—he could not share a whiff of it to anyone, even his wife. Even so, there are plenty of laughs amid tense tales of real-life war games in the frozen Arctic and briefings from high level government officials. From Ottawa to Washington to Moscow, Out of the Shadows: The Life of a CSE Canadian Intelligence Officer will change the way you think about Canadian intelligence and heighten your awareness of current Arctic sovereignty issues.
More info here.

Also of interest, Radio-Canada has made a number of espionage-related items from its archives available on-line (all in French, of course). Highlights include:

- "Le Centre de sécurité et des télécommunications," Radio-Canada, 20 mars 1989 (video).

- "Les révélations de Mike Frost," Radio-Canada, 20 octobre 1994 (radio).

- "Le Centre de recherche informatique de Montréal," Radio-Canada, 13 novembre 1999 (video).

- "Les plus grandes oreilles du monde!" Radio-Canada, 12 mai 2000 (video). Includes interviews with CSE whistleblowers Mike Frost and Fred Stock.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

September 08, 2015 10:12 am  
Blogger Bill Robinson said...

Thanks for the suggestion!

- Bill

September 11, 2015 1:30 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home