The Toronto Star is carrying a collection of articles on the CSEC’s collection of meta data, included is part of interview with Wesley Wark, someone I once took a course with. I never fully agreed with Wark, but I do here:
One of the thorny issues is whether there are different standards for collecting foreign and domestic intelligence. CSEC is restricted in most cases from collecting intelligence on Canadians without judicial authorization. This has traditionally been how Western signals intelligence agencies have operated — which is in part why the revelations about NSA programs have raised questions about Americans’ privacy.
“I think that’s a big issue that we really need to have a public debate about and probably need much clearer laws and accountability regimes around,” says Wark. “If we discover there are no boundaries, then we’d better confront the reality rather than play around it.”
I should say that I agree to a limited extent. I’m now more convinced than ever that we need to go back and examine deeply whether we want spy agencies in the first place given that they operate so far outside the normal rules that they end up making a mockery of the values we claim to uphold.