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CSIS warns of increasingly sophisticated state-sponsored activity targeting elections

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OTTAWA —
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service warns that it sees regular, and in some circumstances growing, international interference by state actors in opposition to Canada.

In a report launched Thursday, CSIS says it has noticed persistent and superior state-sponsored menace activity targeting elections for a few years and “continues to see a rise in its frequency and sophistication.”

CSIS factors to social media being leveraged to unfold disinformation or run foreign-influenced campaigns designed to confuse or divide public opinion, or intervene in wholesome public debate.

The service advises that though Canada’s electoral system is robust, international interference can erode belief and threaten the integrity of the nation’s democratic establishments, political system, basic rights and freedoms, and finally, its sovereignty.

The spy service’s warning comes amid hypothesis Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will pull the plug on the minority Parliament in coming weeks, sending Canadians to the polls.

“The Canadian public and voters are targeted by foreign interference as they are generally viewed by state actors as vulnerable targets,” the CSIS report says.

“In particular, elections provide valuable opportunities for state actors to conduct disinformation and interference campaigns.”

Elected and public officers, curiosity teams, neighborhood organizations and media are additionally potential targets, the spy service says.

Tactics embody manipulating individuals into divulging beneficial data, cultivation of relationships for ulterior motives, coercion, illicit financing, cyberattacks, disinformation and espionage.

CSIS is a member of the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections process drive, which co-ordinates efforts to guard federal ballots.

The report doesn’t single out nations with malicious intent or reveal particular plots waged in opposition to Canada.

However, federal officers have beforehand cautioned that Canada is focused by international states akin to China and Russia as they search to advance their political, financial and safety pursuits.

For instance, Russia and its intelligence providers have been actively engaged in disinformation campaigns since March 2020 to sow doubt concerning the origins of the novel coronavirus in addition to the means required to counter it, says a current briefing observe ready for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

China and different international states routinely try to threaten and intimidate people world wide by numerous state entities and non-state proxies, the April observe warns.

These states could use a mix of their intelligence and safety providers in addition to trusted brokers to help them in international interference activity on Canadian soil, it says.

“While states may attempt to threaten and intimidate individuals in order to pursue fighting corruption or to bring criminals to justice, these tactics can also be used as cover for silencing dissent, pressuring political opponents and instilling a general fear of state power no matter where a person is located.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed July 22, 2021.

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