Harper, CSEC mum on NSA G20 snooping

The Prime Minister’s office and the Canada’s signal intelligence agency are keeping mum on reports that the government helped American agents conduct widespread surveillance activities during the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010.

Top secret documents retrieved by former National Security Agency contractor-turned whistleblower Edward Snowden, indicate that Prime Minister Stephen Harper allowed the NSA to carry out a six-day spying operation in Canada during the summit. At that time, U.S. President Barack Obama and 25 other foreign heads of state were in the country. Details of the operation were first reported yesterday by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Earlier this year by Snowden released to the media top secret documents detailing how NSA use computers to break encryption and compelled several U.S. Internet and technology companies to help the agencies gather metadata on individuals’ online and phone communications.

Calls for greater transparency and judicial oversight were also raised last month when it was reported that Canada’s top spy agency, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC) spied on the mining and energy ministry of Brazil.

The secret documents revealed yesterday indicated that the NSA snooping operation plans during the G20 summit were “closely coordinated with the Canadian partner.”

The documents did not reveal the targets of the surveillance operation but said its purpose was for “providing support to policymakers.”

A spokesperson for Harper’s office told the Canadian Press that the government would not comment on “operational matters related to national security.”

“Our security organizations have independent oversight mechanism to ensure that they fulfill their mandate in accordance with the law,” the spokesperson Jason MacDonald wrote in an email to the Canadian Press.

CSEC did not comment on the operation either. The agency only said in a statement to the Associated Press that the “CSEC does not target Canadians anywhere or any person in Canada through it foreign intelligence activities.”

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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