CSIS Director Michel Coulombe is shown on Parliament Hill on Oct. 8, 2014. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
Operational Data Analysis CentreThe judge said that in 2006, CSIS began processing the data, using a powerful program known as the Operational Data Analysis Centre to produce intelligence that is able to reveal specific, intimate details about people. The materials he found to have been improperly retained was metadata — information associated with a communication, such as a telephone number or email address, but not the actual message — and it is believed to have included data trails related to people such as friends or relatives who knew the targets of surveillance but were not themselves under investigation. The ruling means CSIS can now only keep and use metadata if it relates to a specific threat to Canadian security, or if it is of use to an investigation, prosecution, national defence or foreign affairs.
2 former public safety ministers briefedCoulombe said he wanted to respond to the "apparent perception" that CSIS developed and made use of the program without letting key government players know. He said two former public safety ministers — Stockwell Day, in July 2006, and Vic Toews, in March 2010 — were briefed on the program and CSIS had also shared information over the years with the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the federal privacy commissioner and the inspector general of CSIS. But, Coulombe said, those briefings might not have provided the whole picture as outlined by the court. "Given the Service and Department of Justice interpretation that the activity in question was within the scope of the CSIS Act, these briefings may not have specifically addressed the retention of the subset of associated data on which the Court has now ruled," Coulombe said. "The intent of the Service, however, was to ensure key stakeholders were aware of (the Operational Data Analysis Centre), its capabilities, and intentions around retention," Coulombe said. In his pointed ruling, Noel said that CSIS had breached its duty to inform the court of its data-collection program, since the information was gathered using judicial warrants. Coulombe said he agrees "this was a significant omission," but said it was not done on purpose. "At no point did CSIS deliberately seek to withhold this information from the court, and the court acknowledged that there is no evidence to suggest CSIS did," he said.
'A serious error has been made'Coulombe said last Thursday the spy service had halted all access to, and analysis of, the data in question while it reviews the court decision. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale welcomed the decision and said the government would not appeal. "A serious error has been made," Goodale said Friday as he noted that Coulombe was of the view that CSIS was within the law. "The court has now said very clearly and unequivocally that it was not. This situation needs to be remedied. It needs to be remedied quickly," Goodale said. Goodale also said a federal security review would consider whether CSIS should be able to have the legal authority to keep and analyze the kind of metadata referred to in the court decision.
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