Communication Security Establishment’s History of Its Predecessor

Canada’s NSA wrote a classified 7-volume history of its predecessor agency. Here it is

PDF: History of CBNRC [1,320 pages, 133MB]

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is Canada’s equivalent of America’s NSA. “Canada’s national cryptologic agency,” it calls itself. Its main function is intercepting/monitoring foreign communications, and it’s engaged in illegal domestic surveillance as well. Unlike NSA, it has two additional responsibilities: 1) securing the federal government’s computer network and 2) helping Canada’s security and law-enforcement agencies spy on Canadian citizens when the agencies have a warrant.

CSE’s roots go back to Canada’s code-breaking and signals-monitoring during World War II. After the war, the government continued its signals-intelligence activites by forming the Communications Branch of the National Research Council (Canada’s sci-tech agency).¬†Like NSA, CBNRC was an official secret for decades, and the public learned of its existence only in 1974 due to a CBC documentary about Canada’s espionage efforts.

In 1975, the CBNRC was moved to the Department of Defence and was rechristened¬†Communications Security Establishment Canada. (“Canada” was dropped in 2014). CSE is part of the “Five Eyes” alliance – a system of cooperation among the intelligence agencies of Canada, UK, US, New Zealand, and Australia.

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Starting in 1987, CSE internally published a classified 7-volume history of its predecessor agency, CBNRC. It was partially released due to Access to Information Act requests at some point and, from what I can gather, a more complete version was released in 2016. As far as I can tell, it is not available online, so I requested a copy from CSE.

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