The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed a lawsuit today against the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) claiming that its broad and unchecked surveillance of Canadians is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit (pdf) argues that two aspects of CSEC’s operations violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protections against unreasonable search and seizure and infringe on free expression:
1) The interception of the private communications of Canadians;
2) The sweeping collection of metadata information produced by Canadians in their everyday activities online and through phone conversations.
The lawsuit was filed in the B.C. Supreme Court and is the first challenge to the legality of CSEC’s spying activities against Canadians.
CSEC is the Canadian counterpart to the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), and engages in similar surveillance activities, including those recently revealed through investigative reports based on secret documents leaked by NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden.
At present, CSEC is permitted to read Canadians’ emails and text messages, and listen to Canadians’ phone calls, when a Canadian communicates with a person outside Canada. When seeking to intercept the content of Canadians’ emails, text messages and phone calls, the agency must seek a ministerial authorization from the Minister of National Defence. The Minister’s authorizations permit for broad collection of Canadians’ personal communications and are entirely secret.
OpenMedia.ca has launched a national public outreach campaign calling on all Canadians to show their support for the BCCLA’s case.