Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is shown at a press conference in Ottawa on Nov. 24, 2015. (Photo: Fred Chartrand/CP)The Security of Canada Sharing Information Act, part of the omnibus security bill known as C-51, expanded the exchange of federally held information about activity that "undermines the security of Canada."
Sharing law criticized by privacy watchdogThe former Conservative government, which brought in the bill, argued the measures were needed because some federal agencies lacked or had unclear legal authority to share information related to national security.
"The risk is that it's being used in ways that are going to be difficult to predict because of the overbreadth and uncertainty of that act, and it's going to be used in ways that are difficult to police."Public Safety officials have created an "evergreen guidance document" and other materials aimed at helping federal officials apply the new sharing measures properly, the notes say. It's not surprising that agencies have begun using the information-sharing act, said University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese. "The risk is that it's being used in ways that are going to be difficult to predict because of the overbreadth and uncertainty of that act, and it's going to be used in ways that are difficult to police," said Forcese, co-author of False Security, a book that squarely criticizes the omnibus bill. "It's added complexity to a complex problem rather than simplifying life." The anti-terror overhaul also gave CSIS the ability to disrupt terror plots, made it easier to limit the movements of a suspect, expanded no-fly list powers and cracked down on terrorist propaganda. CSIS director Michel Coulombe recently said the spy service had used the new disruption powers, though exactly how is not clear.
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