Spy Watchdog Panel to Review How Agencies Intercept Communications

Spy Watchdog Panel to Review How Agencies Intercept Communications
David McGuinty, chair of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, holds a new conference to release the committee's annual report, in Ottawa on March 12, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand)
The Canadian Press

The committee of MPs and senators that oversees the security and intelligence community says it plans a review of how these agencies intercept communications during investigations.

The review by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians will examine the legislative, regulatory, policy and financial framework for monitoring communications.

It will include a look at how encryption, used to shield calls and messages, poses challenges for security agencies trying to intercept communications.

The committee will also examine any risks to the privacy rights of Canadians that could arise from modernizing the legal framework.

Experts say the use of intrusive spyware by police or government agencies, which allows investigators to hack into a mobile phone, must be tightly controlled, and electronic surveillance laws updated to account for such evolving technology.

Liberal MP David McGuinty, the committee chairman, says maintaining the ability of security, policing and intelligence organizations to lawfully obtain and use intercepted communications while safeguarding privacy and digital security is essential to protecting Canadians against increasingly complex threats.

“The committee will seek to ensure that the organizations under review can clearly lay out the totality of the problem they face so that our recommendations have the benefit of a full understanding of the issues,” McGuinty said Thursday in a statement.