C-59 CSE spying powers

  Stop dangerous new spy powers in Bill C-59

Instead of reining in Canada’s out of control spy agencies, our government is set to hand the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), dangerous new cyber operations powers under Bill C-59.

We already know from the leak of NSA hacking tools that these can end up in the wrong hands. But these new powers would allow CSE to use dangerous cyber tools and spyware for even more – to disseminate false information, impersonate people or influence political outcomes. 1

And even worse, Canadians have never been consulted on these new powers.

Bill C-59 is racing through Parliament now. Sign the letter and we'll make sure decision makers hear your voice.

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As a concerned Canadian, I am urging you to address the dangerous new powers being proposed for CSE in Bill C-59.

Throughout the process of reforming Bill C-51, Canadians have been very clear on the need to scale back the drastic and invasive national security measures in the bill.

Public Safety Canada’s own “What We Learned” report, which formed the basis of Bill C-59, confirmed that the majority of stakeholders and experts called for existing measures to be scaled back or repealed completely, and that that most participants in the consultations “opted to err on the side of protecting individual rights and freedoms rather than granting additional powers to national security agencies and law enforcement.”

The new active and defensive cyber operations powers proposed in Bill C-59 for CSE are directly opposed to the wishes of the majority of Canadians. We asked for privacy, but instead we’ve got an out of control spy agency with even more extreme powers than before.

Security and privacy experts throughout Canada have expressed in great detail the issues with the proposed bill, and the changes that need to be made to protect the privacy and security of Canadians. Experts have warned of the consequences of granting powers like these, powers that would be all the more dangerous given the lack of oversight included in the bill.

I would like to point you to the “Analysis of the Communications Security Establishment Act and Related Provisions in Bill C-59 (An Act respecting national security matters)” by The Citizen Lab and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC). The recommendations laid out in this report should be adopted by the SECU committee.

In a world, and time, where digital technologies are being used by so many to threaten our digital safety, we need our government to be helping make the world better – not actively undermining our security.

Thank you.

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Bill C-59 fails to rein in the CSE’s acquisition of malware, spyware and hacking tools.

It gives CSE “defensive and active cyber powers”, which can mean activities like mass dissemination of false information, impersonation, leaking of foreign documents in order to influence political and legal outcomes, disabling account or network access, large-scale denial of service attacks, and interference with the electricity grid.    

These new powers also come with no meaningful or independent oversight. They would be approved in secret by the Minister for National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Although the CSE is prohibited from directing its activities at Canadians, the CSE Act endorses mass surveillance of foreigners. Due to the global and deeply interconnected Internet works, large volumes of Canadian data is intermingled with international data, and will be collected, used, and analysed as an incidental byproduct of the CSE’s activities.

This act also gives the green light for bulk surveillance of Canadians by failing to impose protections on the collection of ‘publicly available information’ - a very broad term.

All Canadians are at risk from this, but vulnerable and disproportionately targeted people will bear the brunt of these new powers.

Canadians have not had a chance to meaningfully comment on this. The public consultations on Bill C-51 reform showed that Canadians asked for a reigning in of excessive spy powers. But these expanded cyber disruption powers were never even included in the consultation.


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[1] Analysis of the Communications Security Establishment Act and Related Provisions in Bill C-59 (An Act respecting national security matters): CIPPIC and CitizenLab

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Press: Katy Anderson | Phone: +1 (888) 441-2640 ext. 1 | Office: +1 (844) 891-5136 | katy@openmedia.org