Roundup: Cyberwarfare oversight concerns

The University of Toronto’s CitizenLab issued a report on Bill C-59, and the powers that it gives the Communications Security Establishment to engage in offensive cyberwarfare operations, rather than just sticking to being on the defensive. According to their report, these kinds of activities wouldn’t require any kind of judicial oversight – just the sign-off from the ministers of foreign affairs and national defence – and will have little other oversight other than the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. And as Stephanie Carvin explains below, that’s actually not a bad thing, because offensive capabilities are not the same as intelligence gathering – one of CSE’s other activities.

And this is pretty much the point – a Crown prerogative doesn’t require the same kinds of oversight, and does not necessarily bind the activities to being Charter compliant because it’s not directed at Canadians, thus is not concerned with their particular rights and freedoms. And as Carvin points out, these kinds of operations have their own particular oversight mechanisms, which are simply different than the once that CitizenLab identifies. It’s perfectly fine to wonder if CSE is really the agency to be doing this kind of work, but that also means asking who else would be doing it, and if the answer is to build new capabilities within the Canadian Forces, is that the best use of scarce resources? Perhaps, perhaps not. It’s certainly a topic worthy of debate, but “no judicial oversight” is not right argument to be making in this case.

Good reads:

  • It looks like the government will miss a second self-imposed deadline around deciding what to do with door-to-door delivery by Canada Post.
  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is coming to town, and you can bet that North Korea will be on the agenda.
  • As if there was any doubt, incoming Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion says insists he won’t give the Liberals any special treatment in ongoing investigations.
  • The Post got more details on what happened with TPP talks in Vietnam from Japan’s perspective, and the possibility that they may go ahead without Canada.
  • An Ontario judge ruled that “administrative segregation” in prisons without proper safeguards is unconstitutional, but gave the government a year to fix it.
  • Our ambassador in Washington has gone to bat for Bombardier in their dispute with Boeing before the US International Trade Commission.
  • Most of the touted CRA prosecutions were around domestic matters, not offshore ones (though some had offshore connections).
  • Amidst the coming changes to veterans’ pensions, other changes are taking place regarding case management, and more accusations of poor service.
  • The commander of CFB Valcartier says the values of far-right group La Meute are not compatible with those of the CF, but won’t tell soldiers to quit the group.
  • Warren Shepell is getting a bit sore that his name is still being used on the company he no longer has a part of, and the way it’s being dragged through the mud in QP.
  • Apparently “accountability” was the most common topic in QP. Which is cute, but disingenuous questions and mendacious framing devices aren’t accountability.
  • Jagmeet Singh took part in a pre-engagement roka ceremony last weekend…but his spokespeople were squirrelly about saying what it was for some reason.
  • Kady O’Malley’s Process Nerd column tackles the topic of prorogation, as it’s time once again for that particular bout of speculation.
  • Kevin Carmichael talks about how those US tax changes (assuming they pass) could affect investment in Canada.
  • Stephen Gordon looks at labour shortages happening in places like Quebec, where wages aren’t rising to meet the demand for workers.
  • Colby Cosh delves into the issue of StatsCan trying to estimate the current size of the marijuana market in Canada.

Odds and ends:

It sounds like Thomas Mulcair will retire from politics in June.

Justice Richard Wagner was officially sworn in as Chief Justice, and Justice Sheilah Martin was sworn in as the newest judge on the Supreme Court of Canada.