Overview of 2012–2013 Findings and Recommendations

During the 2012–2013 reporting year, I submitted six reports to the Minister of National Defence on my review of CSEC activities.

These reviews were conducted under two areas of my mandate:

The results

Each year, I provide an overall statement on my findings about the lawfulness of CSEC activities. With the exception of one review described below — in which I was unable to reach a definitive conclusion about compliance or non-compliance with the law for certain CSEC foreign signals intelligence activities — all of the activities of CSEC reviewed this past year complied with the law.

As well, this year, I made four recommendations to promote compliance with the law and to strengthen privacy protection. The recommendations, which are described in the following review summaries, relate to reinforcing policy guidance and expanding an existing practice on privacy protection to other circumstances, as well as providing the Federal Court of Canada with certain additional evidence about the nature and extent of the assistance CSEC may provide to CSIS.

Additionally, I forwarded to the Chair of SIRC, for information, certain general points relating to CSIS that arose out of the recommendations I made and that SIRC may wish to examine as it deems appropriate. This demonstrates how existing review bodies can, in the spirit of the recommendations of the commission of inquiry led by the Honourable Justice Dennis O'Connor, collaborate under existing legislation in the conduct of reviews of activities involving more than one security and intelligence agency.  

Two reviews this year — the review of certain foreign signals intelligence activities and the review of CSEC assistance to CSIS under part (c) of CSEC's mandate and sections 12 and 21 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act (CSIS Act) — identified the absence of certain historical information in a CSEC system and database relating to foreign signals intelligence collection. This system and database support the process by which CSEC determines that entities of foreign intelligence interest are indeed foreign and located outside of Canada, as required by the National Defence Act. The absence of the information limited my ability to assess the lawfulness of the CSEC activities in question, and could also affect review of other activities of CSEC. Due to the seriousness of this development, I directed my employees to conduct an in-depth examination of the issue to determine the implications and advise on a resolution. This issue added to the time required to complete these two reviews. It is encouraging that CSEC has already taken action and continues to do so to ensure the availability of information that is required for accountability and to demonstrate compliance with the law. The Commissioner's office will monitor developments.

In last year's annual report, I expressed frustration about a reduction in CSEC support to my office resulting in excessive delays in being able to proceed with some reviews. CSEC has taken steps to correct this situation and I am optimistic that these will result in a productive year ahead.

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