Letter to the Editor re: Toronto Star article - February 25, 2016
The following letter to the editor was sent to the Toronto Star on February 26th, 2016 at 12:24 pm.
In response to your February 25th editorial related to the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), I would like to provide a few clarifying facts.
First, CSE's authority to acquire and use metadata is founded in the National Defence Act.
Secondly, CSE discovered the issue on its own, proactively disclosed it and took steps to address it.
Thirdly, the potential privacy impact to Canadians has been assessed as low because the metadata that was shared did not contain enough information on its own or contextual details to identify individuals associated with it. Additionally, other important safeguards and privacy protection measures are in place, and applied, as confirmed by the CSE commissioner, by both CSE and its Five Eyes partners.
CSE’s work is critical to the national security of Canada and Canadians. Our work directly helps protect the lives of deployed Canadian Armed Forces and coalition members (most recently in support of Op Impact), we detect foreign-based extremist plots against Canada and our allies, we identify hostile intelligence agencies’ activities against Canada and against our national interests, and we detect and thwart over 100 million malicious cyber attempts against Government of Canada networks every day.
None of this is possible without the use of metadata. Metadata is critical to understanding the communications environments in which CSE operates and the behaviours of our foreign intelligence targets. It is the context but not the content of a communication. Context, not content.
CSE is committed to continuous improvement, to protecting the privacy of Canadians and to contributing to Canada’s national security.
Chief, Communications Security Establishment