Espionage and Foreign Interference
CSIS investigates and advises the government on threats to national security. Espionage and foreign interference pose a significant threat to our economic prosperity and national interests.
Acts of espionage and foreign interference can put Canada at a disadvantage, enabling foreign countries and organizations to further their own strategic interests, at Canada’s expense.
CSIS works to identify these threats, takes measures to reduce them and advises government.
Certain hostile states attempt to gather Canadian political, economic, and military information through clandestine means, both in Canada and abroad, in order to advance their states’ own strategic interests. While many people associate espionage with the collection of ‘top secret’ information, state actors are interested in a range of information, including privileged and sensitive information, as well as intellectually protected information, like patents.
Canada’s advanced industrial and technological capabilities, combined with expertise in certain sectors, make it an attractive target for foreign intelligence services. Sectors of the Canadian economy that continue to be of particular interest to hostile intelligence services include: aerospace, biopharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemicals, communications, healthcare, information technology, mining and metallurgy, nuclear energy, oil and gas, as well as the environment.
Acts of foreign espionage represent a long-term threat to Canada’s economy and our collective prosperity.
The CSIS Act describes Foreign-Influenced Activities, commonly known as Foreign Interference, as “activities within or relating to Canada that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive, or involve a threat to any person.” Foreign Interference involves foreign countries or entities attempting to covertly influence change in Canada, to better suit their strategic interests. As any country with a large multicultural population, Canadian communities are subject to clandestine and deceptive manipulation by certain foreign powers. In many cases, clandestine influence operations are meant to support foreign political agendas or to deceptively influence Government of Canada policies, officials or democratic processes. This can include election interference, spreading disinformation on social media, and the cultivation of influential people. These threats exist at all levels of government, including federal, provincial, and municipal.
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