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Canadian spy watchdog calls for safeguards on Five Eyes info sharing

OTTAWA — The watchdog that keeps an eye on Canada’s electronic spy agency says it cannot be sure the intelligence service’s Five Eyes partners abide by promises to properly protect information about Canadians.

As a result, the federally appointed watchdog has recommended that Defence Minister Rob Nicholson issue a directive to Communications Security Establishment Canada that sets out expectations for safeguarding Canadians’ privacy when CSEC shares information with its key allies.

The watchdog, known as the CSEC commissioner, has also urged the spy agency to regularly report detailed statistical data to the minister about the international information sharing.

The Canadian Press obtained a heavily censored copy of the commissioner’s findings and recommendations under the Access to Information Act.

Ottawa-based CSEC monitors foreign communications of intelligence interest to Canada, and exchanges a large amount of information with similar agencies in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Leaks from Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency — CSEC’s American counterpart — have raised questions about operations of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence network.

 
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