Bill C-59 and the Judicialization of Intelligence Collection

13 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2018

See all articles by Craig Forcese

Craig Forcese

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: April 6, 2018


Canada's Bill C-59 responds to quandaries common to democracies in the early part of the 21st century. Among these challenges: How broad a remit should intelligence services have to build pools of data in which to fish for threats? And how best can a liberal democracy structure its oversight and review institutions to guard against improper conduct by security and intelligence services in this new data-rich environment? This paper examines how C-59 proposes re-shaping the activities of both the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) in fashions responding to these dilemmas. Specifically, it highlights C-59’s proposed changes to CSIS’s capacity to collect bulk data as part of its intelligence mandates, and also the new oversight system proposed for CSE’s foreign intelligence and cybersecurity regimes. The paper examines the objectives motivating both sets of changes, and suggests that in its architecture, C-59 tries to web together the challenges of intelligence in a technologically-sophisticated, information-rich environment, with privacy protections derived from a simpler age but updated to meet new demands.

Keywords: CSIS, CSE, Surveillance, Intelligence, National Security, Datasets, Intelligence Collection, Law Reform, Law

Suggested Citation

Forcese, Craig, Bill C-59 and the Judicialization of Intelligence Collection (April 6, 2018). Ottawa Faculty of Law Working Paper No. 2018-13, Available at SSRN: or

Craig Forcese (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5


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