Three Longs & Three Shorts

CSIS warns Canadian universities to be on alert for international espionage

Three weeks ago we wrote a piece on how the onset of Cold War II will reshape the world and give India an opportunity to ramp up its export economy – see see 
We now share with you two pieces – this one and the next one – on different ways in which the world is adjusting to Cold War II. This one is six month old article from a Canadian newspaper called the Globe & Mail which says: “A little more than a year ago, Canada’s spy agency went into overdrive in an effort to warn universities and researchers that they could be the targets of international espionage.
Starting in April, 2020, CSIS met with more than 230 Canadian research and industry groups and briefed more than 2,000 individuals, according to the organization’s tally.
Documents obtained under access to information show that CSIS prepared presentations for groups, including Universities Canada, the association of chief information officers of Canadian universities, biopharma labs and agencies involved in critical aspects of the supply chain, among others.
The aim was to sound an alarm about potential threats to Canadian research, from partnerships that could compromise intellectual property to the possible presence of foreign agents in labs. One of CSIS’s primary concerns is the potential theft of dual-use technology, which could have a military application in addition to its civilian uses. Sectors such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing, which have myriad applications, require high scrutiny.”
So why has Canada’s spy agency suddenly woken upto the risks of espionage in university research facilities? The answer won’t surprise anyone anymore: “As geopolitical realities change, primarily due to the rise of China as a potential adversary, universities have become a new focus for security agencies in Canada. The result could restrict the way researchers in Canada engage with colleagues, corporations and institutions around the world….
In a talk at the University of Saskatchewan last November that was posted to YouTube, Tricia Geddes, a senior official with Canada’s spy agency, spoke publicly about CSIS’s work on research security…
Ms. Geddes described the threat as coming primarily from countries that don’t share Canada’s democratic values. She referred to Russia and China, as well as other unnamed regimes, but added that it wasn’t only China, and that China is “not universally a bad actor.”…
Ms. Geddes, in her talk at the U of S, said it’s no exaggeration to think of artificial intelligence and quantum computing, areas of Canadian research strength, as “today’s equivalent of the most closely guarded Cold War nuclear secrets.””
Interestingly, there are also signs that Cold War II will be different from Cold War I insofar as it will be fought along multiple dimensions and that’s likely to make it more disruptive for our daily lives: “Foreign interference on campuses isn’t limited to espionage. In a 2019 report to Parliament, the National Security Intelligence Committee said that some states try to influence debate at universities or disrupt events that they perceive as a problem, citing a presentation on Uyghur rights that was disrupted at McMaster University. CSIS has also said universities are sites where foreign spy agencies look for recruits….
Will universities ban collaborations with certain Chinese universities with links to the military, for example, and if so, which ones? Will restrictions apply everywhere, or only to certain fields and specific types of research? Who will decide what’s acceptable and what’s not? A large number of talented graduate students who do research work come to Canada from China. Will they be permitted to continue? Who will do the research on an individual applicant to determine who to admit and who to block?
“For universities to keep their doors to China open, they will need to close some windows and install some new screens,” Prof. Evans said.””