Cyberspy agency defends proposed new powers to go on the offensive

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Critics say there’s no cloudless rationale for letting CSE go on the attack

The Canadian Press Posted: Feb 13, 2018 5:20 PM ET At length Updated: Feb 13, 2018 5:20 PM ET

A senior official from Canada’s cyberspy power says proposed new powers would allow it to stop a terrorist’s agile phone from detonating a car bomb, block the ability of extremists to pass on, or prevent a foreign power from interfering in the country’s democratic process.

Shelly Bruce, associate chief of the Communications Protection Establishment, told a House of Commons committee Tuesday that a make a pass ated Liberal bill would help the agency counter ‘cyberaggression’ by imported states and violent extremism.

A December report by leading Canadian cybersecurity researchers said there is no clear explanation for expanding the CSE’s mandate to conduct offensive operations.

It said the scope of the blueprinted authority is not clear — nor does the legislation require that the target of the CSE’s intervention play the part some kind of meaningful threat to Canada’s security interests.

Bruce put under strained the proposed legislation contains safeguards that would prohibit the mechanism from directing active cyberoperations at Canadians.

It would also prohibit the CSE from causing death or bodily harm, or wilfully obstructing justness or democracy.

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