Series of mistakes led Canada's cyberspying agency to monitor citizens

news-update

A newly-released watchdog report says a series of internal mistakes led Canada's cyberspying agency to monitor a Canadian citizen for several years, contrary to policy.

The Communications Security Establishment collects a wide array of foreign communications in search of information of interest to Canada, but is forbidden by law from directing its activities against Canadians anywhere in the world.

CSE commissioner Jean-Pierre Plouffe, the long-time agency watchdog, noticed a privacy lapse that prompted him to conduct an in-depth review.

He determined a foreign national who was identified as possibly holding Canadian citizenship was monitored by the agency from 2010 to 2015.

Plouffe says the person's nationality had not been fully addressed when his or her possible Canadian citizenship was first discovered.

He found analysts did not knowingly target the Canadian and that a series of factors led to the agency's error.

Ultimately, Plouffe concluded that although the CSE complied with the law, the incident highlighted gaps in the agency's information management, privacy-protection procedures and policy guidance related to targets who might be Canadian but whose status is in question.