Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A year of Canadian SIGINT history posts

2021 was the Communications Security Establishment's 75th anniversary year. Every day during that year, I posted a Tweet highlighting an item related to Canada's SIGINT activities that had taken place on that date, using the hashtag #CSE75. Most of the items related directly to CSE (or to CBNRC, the Communications Branch of the National Research Council, as CSE was known until 1 April 1975), but there were also a lot about Canada's broader SIGINT history, including many related to the Second World War and even earlier.

It was my hope that, in addition to being interesting in themselves, these Tweets might encourage, or maybe shame, CSE itself to be more open about its past. 

The agency did add a small amount of material about its history to its website during the year, making related Twitter posts using the bilingual hashtag #CSE75CST. But I'm quite sure my efforts had nothing to do with any of that (except for the fact that a number of CSE's items clearly drew in part from information previously published on this blog).

You can still find my #CSE75 posts on Twitter, but I thought it might be interesting and maybe in some way useful to compile them in one place here. They're pretty much as I originally posted them, but I have taken advantage of the blog format to spell out some of the acronyms, correct a couple of typos, and add a bit more explanatory text in a few places.

My plan with #CSE75 was to post something interesting about Canada's SIGINT history for each day of the year. The result is not a comprehensive list of the most important developments in that history. In many cases multiple important events have occurred on the same day of the year, and in other cases the month or year of an event may be publicly known but the exact date is not. Many key developments are more in the nature of processes, to which it is difficult or perhaps meaningless to assign a date. And of course many of the most important events are probably ones of which we in the public are not even aware. 

In some cases I had to stretch a bit to find something interesting to report for a specific date, resorting, e.g., to examples of routine activities by or related to the agency that occurred on that date. But I think those items also help illuminate Canada's SIGINT history.

With those caveats in place, here's the list:

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