Communications Security Establishment

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) has two key activities: it provides the government with foreign intelligence by collecting, analysing and reporting on foreign radio, radar and other electronic signals; and through its Information Technology Security, it helps ensure that the Canadian government's telecommunications are secure from interception, disruption, manipulation or sabotage by others.

Canada first became involved in signals intelligence during the Second World War, when military code-breakers contributed to the Allied war effort. In 1946, the government established the Communications Branch of the National Research Council to continue the work with codes and ciphers. The organisation was renamed the Communications Security Establishment and was made an agency of the Department of National Defence in 1975. It is supported by the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group.

The Chief of CSE reports to two senior officials: the Deputy Minister of National Defence for financial and administrative matters; and the National Security Advisor, for policy and operational matters.

Click here to visit the Communications Security Establishment official website.


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Canada called on to increase spying on China
The report argues that better counterespionage (from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service), improved eavesdropping (from the Communications Security Establishment), and more rigorous assessments (from the Privy Council Office) could improve  [...]
HTML | Published: 2009-02-27 | Added: 2009-03-07

Hillier regrets intelligence breakdown
The Chief of Canada's Defence Staff says he regrets that intelligence services did not provide information that could have thwarted the well-organized prison break in Kandahar that freed hundreds of Taliban prisoners.
HTML | Published: 2008-06-17 | Added: 2008-07-03

Listening in on the enemy: Canada's master eavesdroppers
From its headquarters near the Rideau River, the CSE operates a vast electronic eavesdropping system that works with allies in the United States, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand to analyze intelligence on foreign adversaries.
HTML | Published: 2006-04-15 | Added: 2008-07-01

Proposed army spy unit raises worry
Critics are raising concerns about a new unit of the Canadian Forces that is charged with collecting intelligence for overseas missions.
HTML | Published: 2008-05-27 | Added: 2008-07-01

Secretive Canadian spy agency to get $62-million HQ
The money will pay for construction of a new building in Ottawa for the Communications Security Establishment, the most secretive branch of Canada's intelligence community.
HTML | Published: 2008-05-22 | Added: 2008-07-01

Canada beefing up bomb task force
IEDs are considered such a threat that a group made up of a task force, intelligence officials, CSE, and the CF expeditionary and special operations commands, among others, meets every two weeks to review progress and deal with ongoing issues.
HTML | Published: 2008-05-19 | Added: 2008-06-30

Judge denies CSIS bid to track terror suspects
Attempts by Canada's spy agency to be granted warrants to carry out overseas electronic intercepts against 10 individuals, including Canadians, have failed. CSIS officials have in recent years argued for greater autonomy in spying beyond Canada's  [...]
HTML | Published: 2008-02-15 | Added: 2008-02-24

Spying laws outdated, expert argues
So while the CSE routinely aims its ears outward to hear what foreigners have to say, it effectively blocks its ears whenever a Canadian enters a conversation.
HTML | Published: 2008-02-20 | Added: 2008-02-24

War on the Web
Any potential political or diplomatic dispute can now be expected to include a significant online component, and Canada needs to be ready to defend itself against the cyber attacks that will come as inevitably as the next diplomatic dispute.
HTML | Published: 2008-01-02 | Added: 2008-01-26

CIA's revelations find echo north of the border
The outgoing SIRC chairperson offered this parting advice: "We're going to have to play in the big leagues. It won't always be nice, it won't always be easy, and it won't always be pretty, but that's the real world we live in."
HTML | Published: 2007-07-11 | Added: 2007-07-18

Canada's too spy-shy to avert terrorist attacks: expert
Without more overseas spying capabilities Canada will remain dangerously unaware and vulnerable to terrorist threats such as the Taliban video supposedly showing a graduating class of suicide bombers destined for Canada, says a former adviser to the  [...]
HTML | Published: 2007-06-20 | Added: 2007-06-21

Spy agency's watchdog wants more info on wiretaps
CSE, Canada's ultra-secret electronic spy agency, is not providing sufficient information when it seeks government approval to eavesdrop on private telephone calls, says the agency's watchdog.
HTML | Published: 2007-06-13 | Added: 2007-06-17

Day seeks security powers
The government also says it will expand the ability of Canada's spy agency -- the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) -- to do covert foreign intelligence gathering abroad.
HTML | Published: 2007-05-16 | Added: 2007-05-20

Experience in assessing personality and psychopathology.
HTML | Published: 2007-05-13 | Added: 2007-05-13

CSIS Chief says Spies from 15 Nations Working in Canada
Testifying before the Senate's defence and national security committee, which is studying how Canada's security and intelligence services operate and are monitored, Jim Judd said at any given time, about 15 countries will have spies on Canadian  [...]
HTML | Published: 2007-05-02 | Added: 2007-05-09

Canadian Forces Patrol to Confirm Arctic Sovereignty
Both teams will end their patrols at Canadian Forces Station Alert, at the northern tip of Ellesmere Island. Alert is the world's most northerly permanently settled community and conducts signals intelligence gathering.
HTML | Published: 2007-03-22 | Added: 2007-04-22

Gathering Intelligence: The challenges of the Communications Security Establishment
The Communications Security Establishment mandate is to provide foreign intelligence in accordance with government priorities. We are very much focused on security issues, such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation and cyber threats.
HTML | Published: 2007-02-24 | Added: 2007-02-24

Integrating terrorism intelligence resources
Nine departments are represented in ITAC: the Privy Council Office, Foreign Affairs Canada, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, National Defence, Canada Border Services Agency, Transport Canada, CSE, CSIS and the RCMP.
HTML | Published: 2007-02-24 | Added: 2007-02-24

They're watching you
Canadians should know the same powder keg likely as in the US won't blow here, according to Martin Rudner. First and foremost, it's illegal. And the CSE is subject to considerable oversight.
HTML | Published: 2006-10-30 | Added: 2006-11-05

Nothing is secret
Although the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) never talks about its operations publicly, Leitrim - a Canadian Forces base - is long believed to have monitored Russian submarine and shipping activities in the Arctic.
HTML | Published: 2006-10-29 | Added: 2006-10-30

Ottawa to put $650M into spy gear upgrades
The upgrade will allow the continued exchange of sensitive information between allies and will better protect such data from prying eyes. The Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence operate about 80% of the equipment to be modernized.
HTML | Published: 2006-07-05 | Added: 2006-07-06

Our phone calls not being tracked, spy agency says
Canada's electronic spy agency says citizens need not worry their phone calls are secretly being tracked by the government. Although the CSE is allowed to intercept telephone calls involving Canadians, it can only do so under very specific  [...]
HTML | Published: 2006-05-13 | Added: 2006-05-17

Military downsizes Arctic spy outpost
The military plans to replace half of its personnel with contract workers at Canadian Forces Station Alert, a secretive spying outpost at the top of the world, by November.
HTML | Published: 2006-05-05 | Added: 2006-05-08

Security, intelligence community held accountable
Canada's national security and intelligence community is indeed accountable under law and serves to protect all of our civil liberties against the avowed adversaries.
HTML | Published: 2006-04-04 | Added: 2006-04-18

We need answers on domestic spying
While the CSE used to be restricted to spying on communications outside of Canada, the new act allows it to spy on domestic communication, as long as it involves someone outside of Canada.
HTML | Published: 2006-03-31 | Added: 2006-04-18

How 200 soldiers saved 3 pacifists
Agents with Canada's spy service, Mounties and analysts with CSE, rotated through Baghdad's Green Zone during the four months the hostages were held captive. Members of the Defence Department's elite JTF-2 were also on the ground.
HTML | Published: 2006-03-25 | Added: 2006-03-26

Harper to create Canadian CIA
Stephen Harper will create a Canadian spy organization like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to collect information on threats to Canadian security, counter threats overseas and add to allied intelligence capabilities.
HTML | Published: 2006-01-06 | Added: 2006-01-14

How do we keep Big Beaver at bay?
The stark reality is that Canada took the lead, post-9/11, in extending to the CSE the authority to intercept the communications of Canadians without a warrant.
HTML | Published: 2005-12-22 | Added: 2006-01-14

Canada also allows spying on citizens
There was pathetically little attention paid when the federal government moved unilaterally four years ago to lift the ban on the CSE to intercept the e-mail and cellphone traffic of persons living in Canada.
HTML | Published: 2005-12-20 | Added: 2005-12-22

Listening In
ECHELON is a net that snags from the millions of phone, fax, and modem signals traversing the globe selected communications of interest to a five-nation intelligence alliance made of American, British, Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand agencies.
HTML | Published: 1998-08-18 | Added: 2005-12-22

Ottawa can eavesdrop on Canadians under law
Canada's anti-terrorism law opened the door to secret eavesdropping on Canadians and others inside Canada, the same kind of activity that is causing a furor in the United States, intelligence and legal experts say.
HTML | Published: 2005-12-19 | Added: 2005-12-22

Security oversight too diffuse, SIRC chief says
Many complaints about the conduct of national security investigations cannot be fully and properly investigated because of divisions of authority even within the federal government, said Gary Filmon, chairman of the Security Intelligence Review  [...]
HTML | Published: 2005-11-18 | Added: 2005-11-22

La politique canadienne de sécurité nationale, une conséquence de la transformation des institutions publiques de sécurité depuis la fin de la Guerre froide?
The Canadian Forces, Law Enforcement Agencies, Public Safety Ministries and Intelligence Services are some of the State institutions that should adjust to security and threat changes, in line with the newly proposed Canada's National Security  [...]
PDF | Published: 2004-10-30 | Added: 2005-11-01

Senior appointments for the Canadian Forces
Captain (Navy) Andrea Siew, a Reservist, will be promoted Commodore AWSE (Acting While So Employed) and appointed Director General Military Signals Intelligence at the Communications Security Establishment.
HTML | Published: 2005-09-14 | Added: 2005-09-19

Letter from USCIB to CRC allegedly finalizing the CANUSA Agreement
This declassified letter from the Chairman of the U.S. Communications Intelligence Board to the Chairman of the Communications Research Committee (Canadian SIGINT policy), dated 29 June 1949, may be the actual document that finalized the CANUSA  [...]
JPG | Published: 2005-06-29 | Added: 2005-08-07

50 Terror Groups Believed Operating in Canada
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service said terrorist representatives are actively raising money, procuring weapons, "manipulating immigrant communities" and facilitating travel to and from the United States and other countries.
HTML | Published: 2005-07-04 | Added: 2005-07-29

Expanded electronic snooping agency assumes prominent anti-terror role
Undergoing its biggest expansion in decades, the clandestine Communications Security Establishment, a wing of the Defence Department that snoops on foreign conversations and messages, has made its primary mission the countering of dangerous  [...]
HTML | Published: 2005-06-12 | Added: 2005-06-13

Lux Ex Umbra
Canadian signals intelligence blog aimed at collecting, compiling, analysing, and discussing publicly available information about the Communications Security Establishment and SIGINT activities in general.
LINK | Published: 2005-05-04 | Added: 2005-05-21

Prime Minister announces changes in the senior ranks of the Public Service
John L. Adams becomes Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence, where his role will be to serve as Chief of the Communications Security Establishment, effective July 1, 2005.
LINK | Published: 2005-05-18 | Added: 2005-05-21

Mountie secrets hinder rights monitor
Canada needs a brand-new watchdog powerful enough to make the Mounties and spy agencies answerable to the public. In the wake of the Maher Arar affair, action must be taken to compel co-operation from investigators in national security cases.
HTML | Published: 2005-03-02 | Added: 2005-03-03

Spend more on spies, soldiers, Cellucci urges
The U.S. would like Canada to beef up its elite JTF2 special forces and would also like Canada's security agencies, such as the ultra-secret Communications Security Establishment, to help collect and interpret intelligence for its allies.
HTML | Published: 2005-02-04 | Added: 2005-02-07

Secret data-sharing network to be developed to deal with crises
The network would build on existing systems to allow agencies to trade briefs about terrorist and criminal threats, and would prove particularly useful for the "quick and secure transfer of data" during an actual catastrophe.
HTML | Published: 2005-01-13 | Added: 2005-01-19

La traque des terroristes passe par le Pôle Nord
Dans la capitale canadienne, les hauts responsables de la Défense n'aiment guerre évoquer l'intérêt de cette petite base qui est partie intégrante du NORAD, l'organisation chargée de défendre l'espace aérien de l'Amérique du Nord.
TEXT | Published: 2004-11-13 | Added: 2004-11-13

Une agence fédérale peu connue intercepte les communications privées de Canadiens à leur insu
Une loi pour lutter contre le terrorisme permet aux tribunaux de laisser au CST le soin d'enregistrer toutes les conservations téléphoniques de Canadiens à destination de certains pays. Sept pays sont visés depuis l'an dernier.
TEXT | Published: 2004-10-26 | Added: 2004-10-29

Experts push for security review
The federal government and the public should be engaged in the very debates conducted at the conference concerning methods of intelligence gathering and Canada's role in international operations.
HTML | Published: 2004-10-17 | Added: 2004-10-19

Task force to study threat of cyber strike
A national task force will be set up to bolster Canada's defences against cyber-attacks by terrorists, a key security official has announced. Communications Security Establishment chief Keith Coulter made the announcement yesterday.
HTML | Published: 2004-10-16 | Added: 2004-10-19

EU's Quantum Leap
There may be more incentive to secure communication in an age of trans-Atlantic acrimony. The United States' Echelon also coordinates with intelligence agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
TEXT | Published: 2004-09-01 | Added: 2004-09-15

Hackers breached Defence Department computers: report on security lapses
Determined computer hackers broke through federal firewalls several times last year, gaining access to Defence Department networks. Several of the documents released by Defence were prepared by the Communications Security Establishment.
HTML | Published: 2004-07-15 | Added: 2004-07-15

Martin to roll out ambitious national security policy
The policy will canvass six areas: improving intelligence gathering capacity, emergency planning, public health, transportation (marine) security, border security and international security.
HTML | Published: 2004-04-24 | Added: 2004-04-26

National Defence Act - Communications Security Establishment
The part of the public service of Canada known as the Communications Security Establishment is hereby continued.
LINK | Published: 2003-12-31 | Added: 2004-04-21

Liberals introduce new whistleblower legislation
Employees of cabinet ministers along with public servants working in areas of national security, including the RCMP, CSIS, Communications Security Establishment and National Defence, are not covered under the new legislation.
HTML | Published: 2004-03-22 | Added: 2004-04-14

Spy hunters will take secrets to grave
Thousands of Canadians involved in the hunt for terrorists and spies will be forbidden from ever discussing sensitive aspects of their work under a new federal secrecy law. The government expects between 5,000 and 6,000 current and former security and  [...]
HTML | Published: 2004-03-08 | Added: 2004-03-11

Canada listens to world as partner in spy system
The public may not be so blasé about the fact that "good" countries, not just "bad," practice espionage — routine, all-pervasive, electronic espionage. But it's naive to think otherwise. All nations, including Canada, spy on friends as well as  [...]
HTML | Published: 2004-03-07 | Added: 2004-03-07

Facing our Responsibilities - The State of Readiness of the Canadian Forces
Our foreign intelligence needs are met through signals intelligence collection by CSE, through an Interview Programme administered by DFAIT and from intelligence sharing with our Allies.
LINK | Published: 2002-10-25 | Added: 2004-02-25

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces
Although the Department administers it, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) receives its policy guidance from the Privy Council Office, which reports directly to the Prime Minister.
LINK | Published: 2002-08-06 | Added: 2004-02-25

Canada's Communications Security Establishment from Cold War to Globalization
CSE is Canada's largest, best funded and most highly secretive intelligence agency, and is the main provider of foreign intelligence to the Canadian government. CSE collects, analyses and reports on SIGINT derived from interceptions of foreign  [...]
PDF | Published: 2000-01-01 | Added: 2004-02-22

CSE? Don't even ask -- it's secret
The strongest arm of Canada's intelligence network operates in almost total secrecy and with no external check for civil liberties infractions. While CSIS operates under the intermittent glare of publicity and the constant snapping of a watchdog  [...]
JPG | Published: 1901-01-01 | Added: 2004-02-21

One thing after another for red-faced spymasters
Canada's espionage agencies enjoy operating deep in the shadows. No press, for spies, is usually good press. By that measure, the past few months have not been the best times for this nation's spymasters. A string of embarassing revelations have them,  [...]
JPG | Published: 1999-11-12 | Added: 2004-02-21

Directory of the Communications Security Establishment
Government electronic directory of the staff at the Communications Security Establishment.
LINK | Published: 2001-01-01 | Added: 2004-02-06

The real problem with our spies
CSIS and its sister agencies in the United States are still largely populated by intelligence officers who were reared in, and remain wedded to Cold War targets and techniques.
TEXT | Published: 2001-09-24 | Added: 2004-01-31

The Interception of Communications
ECHELON is controlled by the NSA and is operated in conjunction with the Second Parties to the UKUSA agreement: the British GCHQ, the Canadian CSE, the Australian DSD, and the GCSB of New Zealand.
PDF | Published: 2002-04-30 | Added: 2004-01-25

The Missing Agency: The Case for a Canadian Foreign Intelligence Service
The focus of this dissertation lies on the controversial statement that Canada needs to create a foreign intelligence agency. It addresses the issue of why Ottawa chose not to establish a CFIS in the first place. It also answers how Canada collects  [...]
PDF | Published: 2002-11-15 | Added: 2004-01-25

The Missing Agency: The Case for a Canadian Foreign Intelligence Service, 2nd Edition
This is the second edition of a dissertation which focus lies on the controversial statement that Canada needs to create a foreign intelligence agency. It addresses the issue of why Ottawa chose not to establish a CFIS in the first place. It also  [...]
PDF | Published: 2003-02-09 | Added: 2004-01-25

The UKUSA Agreement of 1948
Under the present division of responsibilities, the United States is responsible for signals intelligence in Latin America, most of Asia, Russia and Northern China. The polar regions of Russia are the responsibility of Canada.
PDF | Published: 2001-11-27 | Added: 2004-01-25

CASIS International Conference Student Reports
This year's conference marked many milestones, not the least of which was the participation of forty students from across Canada. They would be providing reports of conference proceedings, to be posted on the CASIS website.
LINK | Published: 2003-12-01 | Added: 2004-01-12

Communications Security Establishment
Official site of the Communications Security Establishment.
LINK | Published: 1901-01-01 | Added: 2003-09-09

Communications Security Establishment
Information on the Communications Security Establishment by the Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Resource Program.
LINK | Published: 2002-07-31 | Added: 2003-09-09

Departments and Agencies Listed in Schedule I, Part II of the Public Service Staff Relations Act
Department or Agency Name: Communications Security Establishment, Organization Code: CSE, Ministerial Affiliation: DND, Number of Employees: 1153, Remarks: Created in 1975.
LINK | Published: 2003-11-06 | Added: 2003-09-09

Contemporary Threats, Future Tasks: Canadian Intelligence and the Challenges of Global Security
Canada’s intelligence community consists of a complex web of functionally differentiated agencies for the collection, assessment and protection of security-relevant knowledge on behalf of this country’s foreign policy, security and defence  [...]
PDF | Published: 2003-08-05 | Added: 2003-08-05

Population Affiliation Report
Communications Security Establishment, Number of Employees: 1102
HTML | Published: 2003-04-23 | Added: 2003-07-08

CFS Leitrim Detachment Gander
CFS Leitrim Detachment's remote operation operates and maintains signals intelligence collection and geo-location facilities in support of the Canadian cryptologic program.
LINK | Published: 2003-03-31 | Added: 2003-07-07

Terrorism, Law & Democracy How is Canada Changing Following September 11?
This paper provides a brief over of the main issues raised by panellists and presenters during the conference entitled Terrorism, Law & Democracy: How is Canada Changing Following September 11? The conference was attended by representatives from the  [...]
PDF | Published: 2002-03-26 | Added: 2003-05-07

Les services de renseignement et les attentats de septembre 2001
Nous allons dans ce bref exposé nous limiter à répondre aux trois questions qu’on nous a soumises, à savoir (i) ce qui a changé à la suite des attentats; (ii) quelles leçons tirer de la crise et (iii) quelles sont les perspectives d’avenir.
PDF | Published: 2002-09-11 | Added: 2003-02-27

Defence Planning Guidance 1998: Resource Planning Levels
CSE Operating Budget (table 4B-11).
LINK | Published: 2000-01-07 | Added: 2003-02-17

Defence Planning Guidance 2001: Resource Planning Levels
CSE Operating Budget (table 4B-53).
LINK | Published: 2002-09-20 | Added: 2003-02-17

National Press Club Newsmaker Breakfast
My Report focuses on the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency’s new "Big Brother" passenger database; the provisions of Bill C-17, the Public Safety Act; the "Lawful Access" proposals to enhance state powers to monitor our communications; the proposal for a  [...]
LINK | Published: 2003-01-30 | Added: 2003-01-30

The Communications Security Establishment and the National Cryptologic Program
The Communications Security Establishment is mandated to acquire and provide foreign signals intelligence; provide advice, guidance and services to help ensure the protection of Government of Canada electronic information and information infrastructures;  [...]
LINK | Published: 2002-06-17 | Added: 2002-07-22

Trolling for Secrets: Economic Espionage is the New Niche for Government Spies
With the Cold War winding down, however, the CSE - which had spent most of its 50 years spying on the Russians - was instructed to do more economic espionage. Countries like Mexico, Japan, Germany and South Korea were now in the CSE's crosshairs.
PDF | Published: 1998-02-28 | Added: 2002-07-01

Lux Ex Umbra
An unofficial look inside the Communications Security Establishment, Canada's signals intelligence agency.
HTML | Published: 2001-11-05 | Added: 2002-06-23

The Communications Security Establishment: Canada's Most Secret Intelligence Agency
This paper is about the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), one of a galaxy of agencies in Canada that fit most, if not all, the elements of these definitions of an intelligence organization with responsibility for foreign intelligence. The CSE  [...]
LINK | Published: 1993-09-01 | Added: 2002-05-27

The new space invaders
But now, the new technology of the post-Cold War world has suddenly transformed the West's leading spymasters into sinister shadows manipulating a massive surveillance system that can capture and study every telephone call, fax and e-mail message sent  [...]
LINK | Published: 2000-02-19 | Added: 2002-02-24

Le fédéral accusé d'espionner ses citoyens
Selon un ancien espion canadien, le gouvernement fédéral utilise un réseau informatique international de surveillance pour recueillir des renseignements sur des citoyens canadiens.
JPG | Published: 1999-06-19 | Added: 1999-06-19

L'évolution du renseignement de sécurité au Canada
La présente recherche ne se veut pas une enquête exhaustive sur les actions des services de renseignement canadiens ni une critique sur leurs agissements. Il s'agit essentiellement d'une recherche historique ayant pour but de relever les principales  [...]
PDF | Published: 1999-04-12 | Added: 1999-04-12