Ann Cavoukian may be smiling in this picture, but the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, is not happy about revelations that the NSA circumvented or cracked encryption that protects international commerce and banking systems, trade secrets and medical records, and Internet searches and chats around the world.

The privacy watchdog delivered an impassioned rebuke in this YouTube video, part of an ongoing series about privacy called “Commissioner’s Corner.”

We’ve provided some highlights below, but it’s worth taking the time to listen to in full.


“I just want to speak to the most recent revelation, at least that I learned of yesterday, that just got my blood boiling. And it was how the NSA, and I’m not restricting this just to the NSA because I’m sure others were involved, other governments, other countries. But it focused on the NSA and how they put in a great deal of effort to subverting encryption and cryptography methods being used widely both in the pubic and private sector to protect our people’s data.

“I just find it so unfortunate, so depressing that governments are spending resources trying to crack code as opposed to working with organizations in a way that would allow highly-developed encryption systems to be respected.

“I find it so disappointing that this is what our resources are being devoted to instead of creative efforts that respect citizens and the public. We have so much work to do, and unfortunately, this is just beginning. So where do you start? First of all we need to bring greater transparency to the area, which is happening fortunately, day by day. And with that transparency has to come greater accountability.

“Who the heck is ordering this stuff to happen and what oversight is there over these organizations that are calling for these activities? … The public has a right to know what their governments are doing theoretically at their behest. Remember, the government is there at the pleasure of the governed. This is about the people. And if the people don’t want this, we have to first know about it to know that it’s happening and engage in extensive public debate and have some decisions roll out from that.”

Leave a Reply