Spy agency admits "incidental" interception of Canadians' information

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In a striking departure from its traditional stance, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE) has admitted that it “may incidentally intercept Canadian communications or information” in the course of targeting foreign entities outside Canada.

The admission was included in a new section of the CSE's website, posted in late December. The agency – which is responsible for intercepting foreign communications, protecting Canadian data networks, and providing technical assistance to other law enforcement and security organizations – says the explanation was posted in response to increased media attention and public interest in the wake of disclosures by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The statement also explains: “If a private communication is incidentally intercepted (e.g., a foreign individual we are targeting overseas is communicating with someone in Canada), CSE takes steps to protect the privacy of that information.”

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