Canada contemplating allowing CSIS to use metadata from innocent people

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. Canada's spy agency is openly warning that Russia and China are out to steal the country's most prized secrets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – The federal public safety minister is keeping the door open to the idea of Canada’s spy agency crunching potentially sensitive data about innocent people.

Ralph Goodale tells MPs at a House of Commons committee today he is weighing views on whether the Canadian Security Intelligence Service should be allowed to retain and use such information.

Last month a Federal Court judge said CSIS violated the law by keeping electronic data about people who were not actually under investigation.

READ MORE: CSIS director says data not collected illegally, but welcomes court ruling

CSIS processed the metadata beginning in 2006 through its Operational Data Analysis Centre to produce intelligence that can disclose intimate details about individuals.

Metadata is information associated with a communication, such as a telephone number or email address, but not the message itself.

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Privacy watchdogs from across the country said this week that Canada’s spy agencies should destroy the data trails of innocent people they collect incidentally during terrorism investigations, once the actual targets have been cleared of suspicion.

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