April 13th, 2024

Halt defence counter-intelligence searches of workplace computers, spy watchdog urges

By The Canadian Press on March 21, 2024.

A sign for a Canadian Forces base is seen in Montreal, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. The national spy watchdog is calling on the military's counter-intelligence unit to suspend investigative searches of a workplace computer system over concerns about employee privacy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

OTTAWA – The national spy watchdog is calling on the military’s counter-intelligence unit to suspend investigative searches of a workplace computer system over concerns about employee privacy.

A National Security and Intelligence Review Agency report released today says Defence employees and Armed Forces members have a reasonable expectation of privacy when making personal use of work computers.

Acceptable personal use can include communicating with family and friends, online shopping and accessing news or other information.

The review agency found a checklist the Canadian Forces National Counter-Intelligence Unit used for electronic investigative searches had the potential to capture intimate and personal information protected by the Charter of Rights.

The review agency says the unit’s electronic search practices lacked sufficient legal oversight to ensure they were as minimally invasive as possible.

As a result, the watchdog recommends the Canadian Forces suspend such counter-intelligence searches until a reasonable legal authority is in place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2024.

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