Confirming or denying records exist can jeopardize investigations

Complaint: The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) refused to confirm or deny that it had records related to specific individuals, citing subsection 10(2).

Investigation: The OIC considered whether CSIS’s either confirming or denying that it had records related to specific individuals could reasonably be expected to harm its investigative work related to threats to Canada’s national security.

Outcome: The OIC agreed that CSIS’s reliance on subsection 10(2) was reasonable in these circumstances.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Unless their existence or non-existence has already been made known elsewhere, such as before a court, confirmation from CSIS as to whether it has records related to specific individuals could potentially be injurious to CSIS’s investigative work. It is reasonable in these circumstances for CSIS to rely on subsection 10(2).
  • The Federal Court confirmed CSIS’s approach in VB v. Canada (Attorney General), 2018 FC 394.
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