Communications Security Establishment (CSE), formerly known as the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) is responsible for foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) and protecting Canadian government electronic information and communication networks. It was secret for 34 years when, on January 9 1974, the CBC television aired a documentary named “The Fifth Estate: The Espionage Establishment”.

CSE is forbidden, by law, to intercept domestic communications, but since 9/11 CSE's powers expanded to allow the interception of foreign communications that begin or end in Canada, and its powers were again expanded in 2015.

The CSE Commissioner said in a statement he had looked into allegations about airport surveillance that surfaced after Edward Snowden leaked a document about the project to the CBC that showed the agency collecting more than just 'data about data', but he had found no wrongdoing. Even before the documents were leaked, the CSE was worried on how it might be perceived.

In 2015, Canada's electronic spy agency was revealed to have been intercepting and analyzing data on up to 15 million file downloads daily as part of a global surveillance program. Details of the project dubbed “Levitation” were revealed in a document obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In 2012, Focus Online noted that “Not many people know that local police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have already begun building a massive public traffic surveillance system. And no one knows how they’re going to use it.

The Automated License Plate Reader System (ALPR) was developed in 1992 at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom to track movements of the Irish Republican Army. By 2007, the International Association of Police Chiefs was issuing a resolution, calling for “all countries” to begin using ALPR and sharing population surveillance data for fighting gangs and terrorism. Now, ALPR is used for charging tolls, but also for “risk profiling” travellers, and tracking or intercepting people using cars photographed near protests in most first world countries.

In March of 2014, declassified documents revealed that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was involved in helping local law-enforcement agencies track protesters. A heavily-redacted 11-page report — with one entire page missing — obtained under the Canadian Access to Information Act shows that the Service was involved in preparing an all-of-government approach to dealing with the First Nations protests, which began in late 2012, out of fear that they could pose a threat to military personnel or intercept weapons shipments, according to documents obtained under Access to Information laws.

In 2015 it became clear such surveillance was stepped up, particularly in British Columbia.

The same memo that revealed the involvement of the CSIS also described the role of the Government Operations Centre (GOC) in compiling a “risk forecast” report for the 2014 “spring summer protest and demonstration season”. A memo in which people were compared to bacteria (just for a taste of the thinking of a petty tyrant).