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BC civil liberties group files suit against Canada’s electronic surveillance agency

VANCOUVER – A British Columbia civil liberties group is suing a federal government agency over allegations it has spied on citizens.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says the Communications Security Establishment Canada has violated charter rights by intercepting private communications online and over the telephone.

Read more: What’s the oversight of Canada’s electronic spy agency?

The lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court says the federal agency has illegally collected information on Canadians by reading personal emails and text messages, and listening in on conversations with people outside of Canada.

The lawsuit is believed to be the first such legal action against the highly secretive federal agency over spying activities.

The association says the CSEC engages in similar activities to the U.S. National Security Agency – the organization at the centre of a growing spy scandal south of the border exposed by former soldier Edward Snowden.

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Association lawyer Joseph Arvay says unchecked government surveillance is a grave threat to democratic freedoms.