Compliance Management, Government Regulations, Network Security

Canada’s spy chief champions internet surveillance

Canada's spy agency doesn't usually venture into legislative affairs, but to broaden the country's online oversight it was eager to make an exception.

An Access to Information filing has revealed that the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) wrote to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews in February, offering the agency's assistance to make the government's controversial internet surveillance bill more palatable. The bill stalled in Parliament after Toews drew the public's ire by stating that the opposition parties could either support the legislation or “stand with the child pornographers.”

The bill is also opposed by internet service providers, who argue that the cost of technology to allow authorities to intercept traffic is unreasonable.

The government reacted to the controversy by delaying debate of the bill, but CSIS Director Richard Fadden offered to draft “potential options to strengthen the accountability regime” related to how law enforcement agencies could obtain access to basic internet subscriber information, including oversight of web browsing.

“We view this legislation as vital in our ability to protect Canada's national security,” wrote Fadden.

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