Jean-Pierre Plouffe, commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), told a Senate committee Monday that data were erased from the agency’s system, making it difficult to find out the number of people impacted.
“It is impossible to know the exact figure. After a certain amount of time, data disappears. They have a deadline after which system data is deleted.”
A month ago, Plouffe tabled his annual report in the House of Commons, revealing for the first time that CSE illegally and unintentionally shared metadata with Canada’s Five Eyes intelligence allies: the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
That data may include Canadians’ personal information, including phone numbers or email addresses, but not the content of emails or recordings of phone calls.
“It’s not accidental,” Plouffe said in an interview about the CSE breaking the law. “It’s because of a lack of due diligence.”
Metadata is information associated with communication that is used to identify, describe or route information. CSE is supposed to monitor only foreign communications for intelligence that may be of interest to Canada.
If the spy agency comes across Canadians’ information, the law requires it to delete the data from its systems.
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