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.
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.
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.