OTTAWA, June 10 Reports the United States is
secretly collecting vast amounts of personal data have alarmed
Canada's privacy commissioner and she will press to see if
Canadians have been affected, a spokesman for the commissioner
said on Monday.
The office of Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart will
also contact data protection authorities around the world to
discuss whether to mount a joint fact-finding effort into the
recent revelations, the spokesman added.
An ex-CIA employee working as a contractor for the U.S.
National Security Agency says NSA is running a massive
surveillance program called Prism that scoops up information
from phone companies as well as Internet data from large
companies such as Google and Facebook.
"Our office has been following developments as reported on
this matter and the scope of information reportedly being
collected raises significant concerns," said Scott Hutchinson, a
spokesman for Stoddart.
Hutchinson said Stoddart's office would "express our
concerns to, and seek information from," Canada's top secret
Communication Security Establishment (CSE), a branch of the
defense ministry that specializes in gathering signals
Canada's government has yet to comment on the Prism reports.
Canada, the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia
belong to the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network.
Separately, the Globe and Mail newspaper said CSE - which is
not allowed to monitor domestic telecommunications - runs its
own global electronic eavesdropping program designed to detect
patterns of suspicious activity.
Like Prism, the CSE program collects data about calls rather
than the content of the calls, the Globe said, citing documents
obtained under access to information legislation. A spokesman
for CSE was not immediately able to comment on the report.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway)