The federal authorities is reviewing its use of so-called lie detector exams in safety screenings as a brand new report referred to as out the controversial follow.

The Nationwide Safety and Intelligence Assessment Company (NSIRA), the watchdog physique overseeing Canada’s intelligence companies, tabled a report on Friday which questioned the deserves of polygraph exams.

The check tracks physiological components like blood strain and adjustments in pulse price and supposedly can inform whether or not an individual is mendacity. It is required for each authorities worker needing an enhanced high secret clearance, which applies to jobs that contain safety and intelligence capabilities or entry to intelligence sources and methodologies.

It is also utilized by the nation’s two intelligence companies — the Canadian Safety Intelligence Service, the home spy company, and the Communications Safety Institution, the overseas indicators intelligence company — on their staff, despite previous reports challenging the test’s reliability.

The watchdog report concentrated on using polygraph exams by CSIS’s inner safety department, the unit that runs personnel safety screening and investigations of CSIS staff and safety incidents.

It flagged quite a lot of governance points throughout the department, together with an absence of clear boundaries between polygraph and medical analyses and restricted oversight of the polygraph program.

“CSIS couldn’t justify the deserves of examiners — who will not be medical practitioners — to ask medical-related questions of the individuals they study,” says the NSIRA report.

“The assessment recognized that polygraph examinations can have profound damaging impacts on an worker’s psychological well being if not used appropriately. Staff who spoke to NSIRA on situation of anonymity described the damaging impression that their unfavourable polygraph outcomes had on their lives.”

Safety customary below assessment 

NSIRA — the results of a number of intelligence-related watchdogs being merged into one physique by the Liberal authorities’s nationwide safety overhaul final 12 months — mentioned it introduced its issues to the eye of the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), the federal government division that oversees federal requirements for safety screenings.

“These points raised within the CSIS context are associated to a wider consideration — particularly, the extent to which the federal government’s overarching coverage doc, the usual on safety screening, gives sufficient steering for departments and companies after they implement this safeguarding measure,” reads the report.

“Though the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) Normal on Safety Screening, created in 2014, cites using the polygraph as an applicable device for assessing candidates in search of an enhanced high secret clearance, TBS was unable to offer any coverage rationale for using this device.”

This is not the primary occasion of a Canadian intelligence oversight company questioning using polygraph exams. In seven consecutive annual studies, revealed between 1985 to 1992, the Safety Intelligence Assessment Committee — NSIRA’s predecessor — referred to as on CSIS to cease utilizing the exams.

‘Grave doubts’

SIRC warned of “grave doubts” in regards to the check’s accuracy, declaring that its outcomes might be fallacious 10 per cent of the time or extra. Canadian courts have refused to confess the outcomes of polygraph exams as proof in felony trials. The Supreme Courtroom of Canada has dominated that they’re unreliable and dangerous and wouldn’t help the court docket in figuring out an individual’s guilt or innocence.

A spokesperson for the Treasury Board Secretariat mentioned the safety customary, which is supposed to make sure constant and truthful screening practices throughout authorities establishments, is below the microscope.

“The 2014 Normal is at present being reviewed to make sure continued relevance of all the safety screening practices set out therein, together with using polygraphs, commensurate with the evolving danger and working atmosphere,” mentioned Alain Belle-Isle, spokesperson for TBS.

It is not clear when that assessment shall be full.

A spokesperson for CSIS mentioned inner processes to mitigate insider threats are constantly assessed and up to date.

“The ‘insider risk’ might be one of the vital damaging threats to Canada’s nationwide safety. CSIS is assured in its strong inner safety measures to guard data that’s extremely sought and strategically invaluable within the arms of Canada’s adversaries. The polygraph is one component of these measures,” mentioned John Townsend.

The safety screening assessment comes as the federal government continues to face questions in regards to the case of Cameron Ortis, the RCMP intelligence official accused of sharing confidential data and getting ready to leak extra.

“A number of safety breaches in recent times illustrate that the Canadian nationwide safety system has not been immune from the dangers related to ‘insider threats,'” says the NSIRA report.

“There are actual penalties when safeguarding measures fail … There may be additionally reputational danger to the Canadian safety and intelligence neighborhood if allies understand that the delicate data they share with Canada, in belief, isn’t being adequately protected. It’s due to this fact incumbent on the federal government to make sure that such data is secured from exploitation, compromise or different unauthorized disclosure.”

Within the quick aftermath of his arrest within the fall of 2019, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki mentioned Ortis had a legitimate high secret clearance — which should be renewed each 5 years — however had not undergone a polygraph examination.

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