Although the revelation that the United States listens in on all communications was disturbing -- Canadian web traffic is up for grabs as it travels through US networks -- it turns out that Canadians are also having their data collected by their own government.
The Canadian surveillance program is operated by the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), an arm of the Department of National Defence.
In recent days, disclosures of secret surveillance programs operated by the U.S. National Security Agency have set off a storm of debate. Leaked documents and accounts have described an NSA project known as PRISM that allegedly gives the agency access to data from nine U.S. Internet companies including Google and Facebook. Another leaked document describes the existence of a government program that collects the "telephony metadata" surrounding millions of phone calls placed by Americans every day, without anyone listening to the actual conversations.
In Canada, a similar sensibility -- though not the same sweep -- appears to have also taken root. "Metadata is information associated with a telecommunication ... And not a communication," reads a PowerPoint briefing sent to Mr. MacKay in 2011. "Current privacy protection measures are adequate," officials said, as they sought renewal of the Canadian metadata program.
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