Monday, December 18, 2017

Citizen Lab, CIPPIC analysis of the CSE Act

Citizen Lab and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) published a report today on the CSE-related provisions of Bill C-59, the Trudeau government's sweeping new national security legislation. I contributed, in a small way, as one of the five authors of the piece.

As Ron Deibert writes,
Agencies like CSE are critical to public safety, foreign policy, and national security. It is essential that they are well-equipped and trained. However, their extraordinary and far-reaching capabilities and activities present enormous governance challenges for liberal democratic societies. Much of CSE’s activities are shrouded in secrecy — the most highly classified of any Canadian government agency. There are obvious good reasons for that secrecy. But government secrecy without strong independent oversight is a recipe for the abuse of power.

The 75-page report looks at CSE's broad existing powers and the extraordinary new powers that would be granted by C-59, and asks questions about how well those powers would be constrained by the oversight and review measures proposed in the bill.

You can read a brief introduction to the report here. The full document is here.

Update 21 March 2018: You can read the French version of the report, courtesy of the translators at the House of Commons, here.

News coverage:

Alex Boutilier, "Canada’s electronic spies will be able to launch cyber attacks with little oversight, report warns," Toronto Star, 18 December 2017

Jim Bronskill, "'Case not made' for Liberal bill's problematic cyberspy powers, researchers say," Canadian Press, 18 December 2017

Chris Arsenault, "Canada’s spies are on the verge of new offensive powers for cyber attacks," Vice News, 18 December 2017

Editorial, "New powers for Canadian spy agency alarming," Toronto Star, 20 December 2017

Update 1 February 2018:

See also Lex Gill, Tamir Israel, and Christopher Parsons, "Government’s Defence of Proposed CSE Act Falls Short," Citizen Lab blog, 30 January 2018.