CSIS use of geolocation data could be unlawful, says watchdog

The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service’s use of publicly available geolocation data without a warrant may have broken the law, according to the country’s intelligence watchdog.

The finding was included in the first annual report from the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, tabled in the House of Commons today. Geolocation data is digital information that can be used to determine the physical location of an electronic device.

The review found that there’s a risk that CSIS breached section 8 of the Charter — which protects against unreasonable search and seizure — during the trial period when the intelligence agency used the data without a warrant.

“This review raised pressing questions regarding the use of data that is publicly available, but that nevertheless engages a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy,” the report reads.

“NSIRA’s review examined the decision making process that led CSIS to use this data without a warrant, and found that CSIS lacked the policies or procedures to ensure that before the data was used, CSIS sought legal advice to avoid unlawful use of the data.”

The agency, which merged several intelligence-related watchdogs into one body as part of the Liberal government’s national security overhaul, said that it has submitted a report to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair about the matter.

More to come.

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