CSE, the Canadian NSA

Spying, immoral, breach of privacy, and data collection all come to mind when talking about the NSA.  The NSA has been a hot topic of late and in a not so positive light.  Countless numbers of Americans feel their rights and freedoms have been infringed upon when the public found out that the NSA has been using a program called PRISM “to collect various forms of data” over the past few years (Greenwald and Macaskill, 2013).   Now public knowledge, this has caused an uproar especially in the United States with regards to online privacy and are people able to safely browse the internet or is their every click being monitored.

Canadians on the other-hand appear to be “safe” when it comes to the alleged NSA spying ordeal, but at a closer look, lots of our data can be collected by the NSA.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all American run sites and therefore the data resides in the US which means it in a sense belongs to the US.  “For all intents and purposes, the internet as we know it is American owned” (McGuire, 2013).  Having said that, the NSA has accessibility to collect this data.  Another new phenomenon which has grown recently is that of boomerang routing.  A full explanation and easy understanding of boomerang routing can be found here.  With this knowledge, there is reason to be slightly concerned who has access to our online data and who actually has our data and how much of it.

In addition, there is a Canadian equivalent to the NSA.  This group is called the Communications Security Establishment Canada or CSE.  The CSE is a section of the government which helps to protect the “security of Canada and Canadians and works in conjunction with the Anti-Terrorism Act by only collecting foreign originated and terminated data” (CSE-CST, 2013).  The CSE has stated that they do not collect data from Canadians; however, in recent news, there were allegations that Defence Minister Peter MacKay “authorized the CSE to eavesdrop, or essentially spy” on Canadians (CBC, 2013).  Much like to situation with the NSA, it is unclear as to what information was collected via spying and how much data was collected.  But, at a first glance, it would appear that the CSE has that ability to spy on Canadians at the drop of a hat.  To be honest, it’s a little frightening.

My honest opining and solution to this whole situation is if you don’t want someone to find out about certain things, don’t post it online, even on a so-called secure site.  There are programs and hackers out there that are specifically designed to hack passwords and secure sites with the end goal of obtaining private and sensitive information.  In addition, be aware of what you are looking at and doing while browsing because it would appear that just about all data now a days is tracked, traced, and recorded and can be fairly easily be linked back to you.  Use your head and common sense when you browse!

References:

Cbc.ca. 2013. MacKay authorized eavesdropping for Canadian investigations – Politics – CBC News. [online] Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/mackay-authorized-eavesdropping-for-canadian-investigations-1.1396996 [Accessed: 15 Sep 2013].

Cse-cst.gc.ca. 2013. Welcome to CSEC. [online] Available at: http://www.cse-cst.gc.ca/index-eng.html [Accessed: 15 Sep 2013].

Greenwald, G. and Macaskill, E. 2013. NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/06/us-tech-giants-nsa-data [Accessed: 15 Sep 2013].

LeakSource. 2013. Internet Surveillance and Boomerang Routing: A Call for Canadian Network Sovereignty. [online] Available at: http://leaksource.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/internet-surveillance-and-boomerang-routing-a-call-for-canadian-network-sovereignty/ [Accessed: 15 Sep 2013].

McGuire, P. 2013. Canadians Should Be Concerned about the NSA and PRISM | VICE Canada. [online] Available at: http://www.vice.com/en_ca/read/canadians-should-be-concerned-about-the-nsa-and-prism [Accessed: 15 Sep 2013].

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