National Security Committee Chair David McGuinty plans to explore with other committee members the privacy risks posed by spyware, but understands the need to “protect Canadians.”
The Parliamentary Committee on National Security will also investigate the framework that allows the use of spyware by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), as well as ;other intelligence and security agencies.
This is in addition to the study already initiated by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
The National Security Committee – which allows elected officials and senators who sit on it to receive sensitive information behind closed doors – plans to cast a wider net than just looking at the use of spyware by the RCMP in certain investigations.
The committee's review will focus on the legislative, regulatory, policy and financial framework for the lawful interception of communications in the context of security and intelligence activities, the challenges arising from new, emerging technologies and evolving, including the use of end-to-end encryption, and the limitations of the current framework in dealing with these challenges, a statement announcing an investigation said Thursday.
Committee members also intend to examine the privacy risks posed by these technologies.
Maintaining the ability of our security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to lawfully obtain and use communications data while ensuring privacy and digital security is essential to protecting Canadians from threats more and more complex, said committee chair David McGuinty. RCMP had been using spyware in certain investigations for several years. The police force also indicated that it had not consulted the federal privacy commissioner beforehand.
The technology in question makes it possible to install spyware on a cell phone at without the knowledge of its user, to capture or listen to a communication on the device, to capture or view with the cameras, to consult photos and text messages.