Directive Reveals Canada’s Military Spies May Gather Data on Country's Citizens - Report

CC0 / / Surveillance
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The August 2018 document says that while information on Canadian citizens can be gathered inadvertently during unrelated operations, such information can still be stored, shared and used to supplement future authorized investigations.

Canada’s military intelligence officers can collect and share information about Canadian nationals, including information gathered by chance, as long as it supports a “legitimate investigation,” a new federal directive says, according to Global News.

The eight-page directive, called “Guidance on the Collection of Canadian Citizen Information,” was signed into effect on August 2018, and has been obtained recently by the media through the Access to Information Act.

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According to the document intended for National Defence employees and members of the Canadian Armed Forces, any information purposefully collected about Canadian citizens must have a “direct and immediate relationship” to a military operation or activity.

However, the document also warns that, due to “emerging technologies and capabilities,” there is an increasing possibility that more Canadians may get scooped up inadvertently from open sources, including social media.

The directive says this information, regardless of whether it was obtained intentionally or not, may be kept and later used to support future authorized defence-intelligence operations.

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The Canadian military intelligence is currently under study by a panel of lawmakers over its practice of collecting, using, storing and sharing information about citizens, Global News says. The panel will release a report on the issue to the Prime Minister later this year.

The report will be a follow-up to a similar document released in April, in which the committee said that such activities “involve considerable risks, including infringements of Canadians’ rights.”

National Defence spokeswoman Nicola LaMarre commented on the practice, saying that only the Canadian Armed Forces national counter-intelligence unit, of all intelligence agencies, collects data on Canadians.

According to LaMarre, the unit has the authority to investigate Armed Forces members and National Defence employees, but that doesn’t mean it can “arbitrarily conduct surveillance on Canadian citizens.” Such investigations may be conducted only when there is a clear link to defence security interests, she said.

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