Statement by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on the ruling of the Federal Court of Canada, published November 3, 2016, with respect to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the handling of "associated data"


November 3, 2016 – “I welcome the decision in this matter rendered by Mr. Justice Noel on behalf of the Federal Court, which the Government will not appeal.

The court's insight and guidance are timely, coming in the midst of the public consultations we now have underway about Canada's national security framework.

CSIS plays a critical role in keeping Canadians safe.  As it investigates threats to our national security, the Service collects a considerable amount of information, with full legal authorization pursuant to the CSIS Act and warrants issued by the Federal Court.  When the information is intercepted communications, it can often include "associated data" of third-parties such as phone numbers and email addresses.

The court has ruled that while legally collected, such "associated data" cannot be retained and utilized by CSIS unless it relates to a specific threat to the security of Canada or is of use to an investigation, prosecution, national defence or foreign affairs.

The Service has confirmed that it is taking immediate steps to address the court's decision.  It has blocked all access to and analysis of any associated data, while it considers its next steps.  As Minister of Public Safety, I am asking the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) to monitor the situation carefully to ensure compliance.

I also take very seriously the explicit finding by Justice Noel that CSIS had failed in its duty to be candid with the court.  I will be pursuing this criticism with the executive management of the Service.  In matters of security and intelligence, Canadians need to have confidence that all the departments and agencies of the Government of Canada are being effective at keeping Canadians safe, and equally, that they are safeguarding our rights and freedoms.

I also take note of the court's observation that the CSIS Act is now more than 30 years old and showing its age as global affairs, threat profiles, technology and public expectations have rapidly evolved.  In his judgement, Justice Noel did not dispute the potential value of "associated data" to the important work CSIS does in this challenging world, but he could not find existing legislative authority permitting its retention and use.”

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Scott Bardsley
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada
(613) 991-0657

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