Surveillance, and Corporate Canada

Canada is a close ally to the United States. Canada often follows America’s lead, and unfortunately spying is one of those area’s Canada has followed along with America. The first of this came out with Edward Snowden, who revealed to the world that Canada had been involved in a very serious spying campaign against Brazil. Brazils mining corporations and projects were being watched closely by Canada. While this is likely a reflection of Canada spying on behalf of corporations (Ismi, 2013), there is another
factor to this. The NSA has been involved in a very elaborate campaign of surveillance on its own citizens for several years now. In fact they have been accused by Alexis Ohanion, founder of Reddit of engaging in a surveillance campaign whose main goal is
“collect everything.” This is regardless of who it is, how dangerous they are perceived to be. Canada’s NSA equivalent, the CSEC appears to be involved in a similar campaign against its citizens. For one thing, according to Ismi, the CSEC has had close relations
with the NSA for at least six decades. The two have been constantly sharing information on each other’s citizens (Ismi 2013). What Snowden has leaked is a reflection of corporate espionage, but it doesn’t end there. The Harper government has been a huge
proponent in the extraction of natural resources in Canada, and one of its major positions are with such projects as Enbridge’s pipeline for the coast of British Columbia. Recently it became public knowledge that the Harper government wished to “monitor”
protests in Canada, anywhere in Canada, regardless of what the meaning of the protests were. This made clear the Harper governments position on spying. If the CSEC was able to spy for the purposes of corporate espionage in Brazil, surely for the sake of
Enbridge and its pipeline, the CSEC would be “monitoring” not only the protests taking place regarding the pipeline, but also “monitoring” those involved in the protests. A Brazilian journalist who had contacts with Snowden says that the leaked documents
indicate that the NSA and the CSEC are engaged in “insidious hacking” of corporate, foreign, and private computer accounts (Ismi, 2013). If this is the case, Canada, which has been considered around the world as a leader in human rights and civil liberties, is in severe violation of her own citizens, and even foreign governments. The Brazilian government expressed outrage at Canada’s transgressions against its sovereignty, and its corporate interests, however Greenwald suggests that Brazil “was only the tip of the
iceberg,” meaning Canada has been engaged in this activity for a very long time now (Ismi, 2013). The claim that Canada has sacrificed a huge piece of itself to spy on its citizens in a post 9-11 world does not do this situation justice. Unfortunately, because of the Harper governments advocacy for resource development, this government has decided that the CSEC should not concentrate on domestic terror surveillance, but rather surveillance of groups protesting resource projects in Canada. The surveillance
campaign has nothing to do with protecting Canada, or national security. The whole campaign is in the interest of corporate Canada, and such incidences, like the one which occurred on parliament hill are simply a smoke screen, a way to legitimize some of its spying. Canada is not spying on her own citizens in the interests and security of our nation, rather in the interests and convenience of corporate Canada.

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One response to “Surveillance, and Corporate Canada

  1. This is an interesting post. Some elaboration would be welcome (the post is shorter than anticipated).

    The dots you are connecting between the interweaving of government and corporate interests (especially in the area of resource extraction) and mass surveillance practices are important.

    Describing CSEC surveillance, you note that “Canada, which has been considered around the world as a leader in human rights and civil liberties, is in severe violation of her own citizens, and even foreign governments”. Question: what is the role of law in governing Canadian spy agency practices in relation to foreign governments? A great deal of foreign SIGINT surveillance involves forms of eavesdropping that are prohibited in target jurisdictions.

    Note that we have yet to see evidence that CSEC is actively monitoring Canadian social movements involved in extractive industry protests. CSIS, the RCMP, and the NEB are neck-deep in this sort of surveillance, though. It will be interesting to see if further revelations from the Snowden files expand this list.