Monday, February 22, 2016

Plouffe testimony to Senate National Security and Defence Committee

CSE Commissioner Jean-Pierre Plouffe testified before the Senate National Security and Defence Committee on 22 February 2016. Pierre Blais, the Chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, also testified at the same time.

The transcript of the session won't be available until later [interim transcript now available here], but the meeting was televised and can be watched here. The session involving Plouffe and Blais begins around 14:08, and Plouffe's prepared testimony begins around 14:23.

The discussion of CSE's metadata problem begins at about 15:00.

Especially notable in Plouffe's response is his statement that the unminimized metadata was shared for a "number of years" before being stopped, which suggests it may have begun not long after this April 2008 meeting, when CSE told its allies that "bulk, unselected metadata presents too high a risk to share with second parties at this time, because of the requirement to ensure that the identities of Canadians or persons in Canada are minimised, but re-evaluation of this stance is ongoing."

[Update 23 February 2016: It's probably no coincidence that Qtech was contracted in April 2008 to design "a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) for metadata sharing between Canada and its foreign allies. This high profile initiative will transform the manner in which Canada collaborates with its allies. This metadata sharing system allows the collaborating parties to retrieve metadata of interest from the department’s [Very Large Databases], and is designed to handle very large volumes of requests and resultsets." According to Bill Pezoulas, the work lasted until May 2009. The system developed was probably used to facilitate Canadian participation in Five-Eyes metadata-sharing through GLOBALREACH.

Note the bit about "very large volumes of requests and resultsets."]

Further coverage:

- Ian MacLeod, "Canadian electronic spy agency’s unlawful metadata sharing went on for years before being fixed," Ottawa Citizen, 22 February 2016.

- Ashley Burke, "'Difficult to determine' scope of privacy breach in Five Eyes data sharing," CBC News, 23 February 2016.


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