[an error occurred while processing this directive] FactsCanada.ca -- Friday Feature 2000-02Fr -- CSIS -- Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- Part Two
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CSIS -- Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- Part Two.

September 1, 2000.

Welcome to week two of our Friday Feature. This week we cover part two of our series on CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Next week we may alternate with another issue -- then again maybe we won't. You're along for the ride in this new venture. We hope you enjoy it. Please read the notes at the end regarding your subscription.


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CSIS -- Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- Part Two
By Michael Hora (mike@factscanada.com)


In their mission statement CSIS states that it is dedicated to protecting the national security interests of Canada and safeguarding its citizens. To do so, it must not only investigate and report on threats to the security of Canada but stay within the rule of law as practiced in this country. Also, human rights may not be abridged in this pursuit.

The spy agency is aware that it has before it unprecedented challenges to its mandate. The group is very much concerned with the proliferation of off-shore illegal interests that are targeting our country and the threat these interests pose to both Canada and also our southern neighbours in the USA. CSIS statements to this effect are regularly given air time and these claims are routinely echoed in the halls of American spydom. It has long been maintained, and with credible attribution bearing it out, that very few groups wish to target Canada with terrorist type activities. The world's longest undefended border runs invitingly between the two countries and the logistics of manning it are formidable. It is porous and easily breached. Owing to the Americans' position of being financially and politically prominent on the world stage, it follows then that America is the preferred target of international acts of violence and criminal activity. A large part of CSIS resources is allocated to intercepting and using clandestinely retrieved information to prevent Canada from being the stepping stone to the States.

The North American public is by now well used to the idea that they are among those at the forefront of technological applications, and have incorporated them into their lives at a rapidly growing pace. For good or bad, we don't yet know. And, as is well known on this continent, the providers of these services are becoming fewer and fewer as the equipment needed to bring them into our homes and businesses becomes smaller and more efficient. Large corporations have used their positions to blend these technologies -- this is known as convergence. They require fewer people to operate and fewer sites to operate from as today's tech can do more with less. Many multinational corporations now service both countries from one or the other. They control the data flow and are referred to as gatekeepers. As with any other product in the shopping arena, a company's customers will only buy into a product that they deem as being safe, reliable, and reasonably priced. With telecommunication devices comes an added concern; privacy.

CSIS and its American counterparts are serious in their assault on those extra-nationals who would do us harm. They recognize that, with the advent of hi-tech throughout the criminal world, it is imperative they use the same tools to foil the bad guys -- rather like fighting fire with fire. So it is up to CSIS to intercept radio and other wireless transmissions, such as satellite broadcasts, if they want to do their jobs in an efficient and forthright manner. However, a problem arises if data is beamed down to Canada from a satellite, picked up in Halifax and then rebroadcast to the Eastern Seaboard of America. It is a contravention of international law for one domestic agency or the other, in this case the CSIS and CIA groups, to intercept and monitor information received in one country and disseminated in the other. To illustrate this, take an organization such as the Palestinian Hamas who are openly advocating violence in their attempt to establish a homeland for their ethnic group in the Middle East. If Canadian authorities find out that this group is raising funds on Canadian soil and suspect that this money is being funneled across the border to purchase weapons that will be used for terrorist purposes in the US, and they can only prove their allegations through the interception of communications that land in Canada and are then broadcast into the US, they are defeated. The collection of the data is deemed to be inadmissible. The law is very clear about the unfettered right of citizens to have access to unmonitored communications. Wiretaps cannot be granted in one jurisdiction and applied to another. A judge in Hull, Quebec, does not have the power to grant CSIS access to lines of communication that extend into a foreign national's territory.

The next installment will cover encryption.


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