Technically, the Canadian Prime Minister shouldn’t have to worry about being snooped on. Declassified information on the so-called Five Eyes partnership—an intelligence-sharing agreement between America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand—supposedly forbids the five friendly governments from snooping on each other. But we don’t know what caveats exist in that agreement, because it’s kept top secret. We do know, however, that the NSA was operating in Toronto during the G8 and G20—and that CSE knew about it. That sort of cooperation, Parsons says, is to be expected by the Five Eyes partners.
“There is of course a concern that in the Five Eyes agreement there is an proviso that members of the Five Eyes network can engage in surveillance on other partners if it’s in their sovereign interest,” Parsons said.
It’s certainly interesting (and newsworthy) that Canada is buying cryptographically-secure systems from the NSA, though not necessarily surprising: the NSA is recognized as a leader in this technical space and has economies of scale that could reduce the cost of the equipment. These isn’t, however, any indication whether CSEC examines or tests the devices for backdoors. Presuming that the math hasn’t been compromised, and the phones and faxes aren’t being compromised by our close ally, then there are presumably (relatively) few worries with the Canadian procurement strategy and lots of benefits.