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Canada's spy service moves quietly ahead with data-crunching plans: documents

Last Updated Mar 30, 2020 at 3:28 pm EDT

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Newly released documents show Canada's spy agency is moving ahead with plans to collect and use databases containing personal information about Canadians. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — Newly released documents show Canada’s spy agency is moving ahead with plans to collect and use databases containing personal information about Canadians.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says the initiative — made possible by sweeping security legislation passed last year — will enable the agency to crunch Canadian information and detect previously unseen patterns.

However, the new power to gather, sift and keep Canadian datasets worries civil liberties advocates.

Memos disclosed under the Access to Information Act show CSIS got the process rolling last July with a request to Ralph Goodale, public safety minister at the time.

The spy service asked Goodale to approve proposed classes of Canadian datasets.

A note to the minister cautions that the first year of the new regime will be a learning process.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press