Sharing National-Security Relevant Information

Access to accurate, timely, and reliable information is essential to the Government's ability to protect Canada's national security. As Canada increasingly faces diverse and complex threats requiring coordinated approaches across Government organizations, it is important to ensure that national security agencies continue to have access to the information needed to counter these threats in order to ensure the safety and security of Canadians.

Government of Canada institutions already share information with each other for national security purposes. However, some institutions lack a clear authority to share national security-relevant information and, in some cases, legal barriers prevent or delay the sharing of key information.

To facilitate the effective and timely access to government information for national security purposes and address legal gaps, the Government has created a clear authority for federal Government institutions to share national security-relevant information with other designated federal Canadian Government institutions that have national security responsibilities. Information may be shared proactively or in response to a request, while always respecting Charter and privacy rights.

Security of Canada Information Sharing Act: Public Framework

Principles

The following principles support the Government's approach to information sharing for security of Canada purposes.

Lawfulness: Our country is built on the rule of law as a cornerstone of peace, order and good government. Information sharing must take place in accordance with Canadian law, including the Charter and the Privacy Act.

Effectiveness: In order to identify and assess threats to our national security, make decisions or take action, the information necessary to identify threats must be shared with those who need it in a timely manner; in other words, the right information needs to be shared with the right people at the right time. While sharing information on known threats is important, it is also critical that information be shared to prevent threats from developing.

Protection of Privacy: The need to share personal information to protect Canada's security does not diminish the need to respect the privacy of Canadians, who have a legitimate interest in limiting access to personal information about themselves held by Government institutions.

Relevance: In order to respect the privacy of Canadians, information should only be shared if it is reliable and relates directly to the national security jurisdiction or responsibilities of the receiving government institution.

Responsibility and Accountability: Government departments and agencies are responsible and accountable for the manner in which they manage the information they hold, including the circumstances in which they share information. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner plays an important role in this regard by investigating complaints, including self-initiated complaints, regarding compliance with the Privacy Act, while the Office of the Auditor General audits federal Government operations and provides Parliament with independent information, advice and assurances regarding the Government's stewardship. Moreover, bodies are also in place to provide independent, external review of the activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and the Communications Security Establishment.

Transparency: Ultimately, the willingness of citizens, businesses, and other Governments to trust the Government of Canada with their information is based on the strength of the relationships the Government builds with individuals and institutions. The Government must be open and transparent with its information sharing policies and practices so as to earn the trust of its citizens and partners in knowing that the Government is a proper and responsible custodian of their information.

See the full Security of Canada Information Sharing Act: Public Framework.

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