#CyberFLASH: Bid to boost spy agency’s powers raises privacy concerns: watchdog

privacy-commissioner-daniel-therrienThe Conservative government’s bid to boost the power of Canada’s spy service to work with agencies that operate outside the existing oversight regime has raised a yellow flag for the federal privacy watchdog.

“The sharing of information does directly affect privacy, so that’s where my concerns would lie,” Daniel Therrien told the House privacy committee on Thursday afternoon.

He noted that, while the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is subject to independent oversight through the Security Intelligence Review Committee, that isn’t the case for all of the federal organizations with which it would be authorized to share information under the proposed changes to the law.

“Judge O’Connor in the Arar affair pointed out that there are shortcomings in independent oversight, and recommendations were put forward to the effect that government agencies involved in intelligence should be the subject of oversight in the same way as CSIS is.”

Practically speaking, he said, the bill before the House right now deals with CSIS’s mandate, and “indirectly,” the sharing of information by the same.

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