CSIS does not sufficiently consider the effects of threat reduction measures

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CSIS does not give enough consideration to the effects of threat reduction measures

According to a new report, CSIS does not consider impacts when trying to reduce certain threats.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) does not sufficiently take into account the reasonably foreseeable consequences on third parties when it uses its powers to reduce certain threats, judges the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. Intelligence (OSSNR).

The federal agency criticizes CSIS for using an overly narrow assessment framework to determine whether to issue a judicial warrant.

Eight years ago, the federal Parliament passed a law that allows CSIS to not only collect intelligence on espionage and terrorism activities in the country but to take measures to reduce certain threats. For example, CSIS can cancel bank transactions, impede a person's travel, or interfere in the communications of a radical group.

By law, CSIS must have reasonable grounds to believe there is a threat to national security before taking steps to reduce that threat. The agency must also obtain a court warrant if these measures violate the Charter of Rights or other Canadian laws.

In addition, these measures must be fair and appropriate to the circumstances. They must therefore take into account the availability of other means to reduce a threat and the consequences for a third party, in particular their privacy.

In its report released this week, the OSSNR examines how CSIS adequately acknowledged, documented and addressed the adverse impacts these measures may have had on those affected from June 2015 to December 2020.


The agency says that in some cases, CSIS has disclosed information to outside organizations that have their own control mechanisms in an effort to mitigate known threats. However, he notes inconsistencies in how CSIS reported on the information it had disclosed to external organizations as part of threat reduction [MRM] measures, especially since these information sometimes lacked clarity and precision.

The OSSNR stresses that content accuracy, including the scope and breadth of information to be disclosed to an external organization for the purposes of an MRM, is particularly important and helps inform the #x27;assessment of the risks posed by the proposed measure.

The review found that CSIS does not attempt to sufficiently understand the ins and outs of authorizations and capabilities available to external organizations or to foresee any adverse effects that the measures may have.

OSSNR regrets that CSIS has a mixed interest in the potential consequences of threat reduction measures, especially those that have been outsourced to other agencies.

OSSNR notes that CSIS cannot absolve itself of responsibility simply because the repercussions of an action would be caused by the intervention of a third party, can we read in the heavily redacted report.

The evaluative framework for judging these consequences should not be based solely on the immediate repercussions of CSIS action.

“This framework should rather take into account the full impact of a measure, including the direct and indirect effects caused by the intervention of external organisations.

— From the OSSNR report

The agency argues that CSIS must obtain a warrant when an action risks infringing a Charter right or contravening Canadian law, whether the infringement is a an action by CSIS or the intervention of an outside organization to which CSIS allegedly passed information.

However, although they provide a little more flexibility to CSIS, these powers also entail increased responsibility given their secrecy and the great influence they can have not only on the subject of ;an MRM but also on other people indirectly affected by said MRM, the report points out.

Unsurprisingly, CSIS disagrees with OSSNR's recommendation on the use of third parties in support of threat reduction measures. He defends himself by saying he is working closely with the Department of Justice to determine whether a warrant is required for each of his measures, including those that apply to third parties, all in compliance with the legislative framework in force.

The agency fully or partially accepts the other recommendations of the report.

No one ;was, however, available to CSIS on Friday to report on the steps the agency is taking to correct this situation.

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, an Ottawa-based group, finds it unacceptable that CSIS can ask a third party, such as a private company, to take action against individuals without accepting responsibility for any consequences. /p>

For her, the fact that CSIS does not approve the recommendation of the OSSNR demonstrates that the agency continues to circumvent the law and that it can no longer be trusted to exercise its powers.

We have been told repeatedly not to worry about CSIS's threat reduction powers because They are not so invasive that they require the use of a warrant, says Tim McSorley, the coalition's national coordinator. It is now clear that CSIS outsources these threat reduction measures to third parties. This serves as a pretext for them not to think about seeking judicial warrants.

The coalition is asking that the federal government suspend the powers of CSIS and refer the matter to the Federal Court.

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