Canada’s military spies can collect and share information about Canadian citizens — including material gathered by chance — as long as it supports a legitimate investigation, says a newly disclosed federal directive.
The prospect of defence-intelligence agents having personal data about Canadians worries civil-liberties advocates because it is unclear just how much is collected incidentally from the vast reaches of cyberspace.
The Canadian Press recently obtained a copy of the eight-page, August 2018 directive, “Guidance on the Collection of Canadian Citizen Information,” through the Access to Information Act.
The instruction to National Defence employees and members of the Canadian Forces says any information collected about Canadians must have a “direct and immediate relationship” to a military operation or activity.
But it also warns that “emerging technologies and capabilities” are increasing the possibility that such Canadian information will be scooped up inadvertently from open sources like social-media feeds.
Data about Canadians, whether it’s collected intentionally or not, may be kept and used to support authorized defence-intelligence operations, the directive says.
The national-security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians is examining the directive as part of a study on how National Defence and the Canadian Forces gather, use, keep and share information about Canadians as part of their intelligence work.