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Spy agencies must be transparent about new data-crunching, analyst warns

OTTAWA — An Israeli intelligence expert warns that rapid technological advances in data collection and analysis are transforming the way spy agencies work, potentially putting civil liberties at risk.

In a presentation to Canadian intelligence officials and academics, Shay Hershkovitz says the agencies responsible for keeping people safe must ensure privacy and basic rights are not compromised in the process.

Hershkovitz, a senior research fellow and former intelligence officer in Israel, says spycraft is being revolutionized by the growing number of smart devices, almost-unlimited data storage and the advent of artificial intelligence.

He argues intelligence agencies must explain how new technology will help counter threats and discuss the ethics of the powerful data-crunching techniques.

Hershkovitz says if agencies do not address such questions, they will be dragged kicking and screaming into the debate.

He predicts transparency will be key and that legislators will need to limit use of the emerging technologies.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2019.

The Canadian Press