RCMP will use surveillance aircraft to monitor phone calls and text message use by police and the public, a new report says.
The RCMP will soon begin testing the use of drones to collect data on cellphones and text messaging as part of a pilot project, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said Thursday.
The report comes amid concerns over privacy concerns about the new technology.
The spy agency will be testing out the drones at the request of the federal government.
The agency has previously said that it will deploy them in “very limited circumstances” but the use will be limited to “high risk situations.”
The spy service said it is looking to partner with local police departments to deploy the drones, but that the technology will be used for “very small numbers” of cases.
The CSIS said it will begin pilot projects with Canadian police in January to see if they are a good fit for police work and to gather information about people’s phones and other electronic devices.
The spy service has also said it wants to work with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to help the public get the word out about the pilot project.
The agency said the use is subject to “policymakers’ approval” and that the pilots will be tested at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, as well as in other locations.
The pilot project will cost up to $100,000, according to the report.
The CSIS, which is also responsible for Canadian foreign and security policy, said it plans to test the devices at police headquarters in the United Kingdom.
The project is part of an overall $1.9 billion program that the spy service will use to support its surveillance work, according a statement from the agency.
“The Canadian Security Agency has an interest in supporting our law enforcement partners in their work to protect Canada and the Canadian public,” CSIS Commissioner Rick Hanson said in the statement.
“In this case, it is important that we are able to support the CSIS’ surveillance missions as well.”