Wednesday, November 08, 2017

My work here is not done

I don't consider it my personal mission to make Canadians more aware of the existence and activities of the Communications Security Establishment. But I've always thought it would be a Good Thing if Canadians were more aware of CSE, and I felt it was possible that this blog might make a small contribution towards that end.

Well, if it has made any contribution, it certainly has been a small one.

A recent poll conducted for CSE found that,
On an unaided basis, only 3% of respondents correctly name “CSE” or the "Communications Security Establishment” as the government agency responsible for intercepting and analyzing foreign communications and helping protect the government’s computer networks. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is much more commonly named as the agency described (mentioned by 22%).
Also, that 3% figure is only considered correct within plus or minus 2.8 percentage points 19 times out of twenty. In other words, it's pretty much within the margin of error.

As Jim Bronskill notes, there was a time not so long ago when CSE would have been thrilled to be so completely unknown ("Only three per cent of people surveyed could name Canada's cyberspy agency," National Post, 8 November 2017).

Times have certainly changed. CSE is a lot more interested in publicity than it used to be.

But of course there's still an awful lot they aren't keen to talk about. (See my comments on transparency here.)


Blogger CWC said...

You've certainly raised *my* awareness, even if they are on my horizon every day:-) If it's any consolation even fewer than 3% know it as being housed in The Drake Building. Or (wait for it)...Spook Central.


November 08, 2017 6:34 pm  
Blogger Bill Robinson said...

Well I appreciate all your help on the Edward Drake/Spook Central question!


November 09, 2017 11:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, when will glasnost arrive at CSE? No doubt transparency is complicated in the spy business, but 70 years of reflexive secrecy is coming home to roost: people can't trust them. There are too many well-known abuses in other, similar agencies around the world to ignore and brush off as not possible under Canadian management. What was CSE's role in the scandals emerging during the 1970s at the NSA? Was CSE (CBNRC) involved in MINARET? Was CSE (CBNRC) involved in PICNIC? What is the nature of the relationship between CSIS and CSE? Did information about Canadians that CSIS wrongfully held originate in operations authorized by Mandate C? Etc., etc., etc. Not good. Maybe CSE is lucky after all that most Canadians still don't know about them.

November 22, 2017 6:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, your use of 'glasnost' is to say the least...dated. Gorbachev, the father of Glasnost, has been shunted aside by Putin and considered by many Russians to have betrayed their country. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are back in the Cold War, only the weapons are different this time.

I'm not sure CSE needs greater transparency, though it certainly needs adequate oversight.
Above all, we need a CSE that can protect Canada, and that means it must have an offensive capability.

January 25, 2018 10:05 am  

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