Safeguarding Research (NCSB)
CACN – Security – Canada-China Relations
Date: February 22, 2021
- The Government of Canada welcomes collaboration on science, technology and innovation initiatives that are of benefit to Canada.
- However, some challenges remain. Our Government is working to ensure that activities undertaken not only support innovation and the advancement of science, but also brings long term benefits to Canadians.
- The Government of Canada is aware of attempts by foreign state actors, [Redacted], to target cutting-edge Canadian research and development efforts in order to illicitly acquire data, technology, and intellectual property.
- There have been several instances of foreign threat actors, [Redacted], attempting to gain access to valuable research from Canadian institutions through a number of means, including: remote cyber-attacks [Redacted]
- The areas targeted are some of the most critical to our collective interest and future prosperity, including health research, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, ocean technology, and the aerospace sector, among others.
- [Redacted] This is a risk to our research ecosystem, economy, and the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
- In the face of this, my Department is actively engaging universities, federal labs, and private companies through the Safeguarding Science initiative to ensure that Canadian research and proprietary information remains safe – an effort we lead with the support and collaboration of 10 federal departments and agencies. To date we have visited 34 universities, 19 federal labs, and counting.
- Through this flagship initiative, we are also developing concrete tools for our research communities to help increase their resiliency to foreign interference. This includes the development of increased advice, guidance, and online courses for researchers on how to recognize and mitigate the risks they face. We are also exploring further collaboration with our Five Eyes partners on this issue. In addition, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has also briefed over 200 organizations on threats related to COVID-19.
- [Redacted] The Government of Canada will continue to do its part to ensure that these and other national security threats are appropriately addressed, with the help of domestic and international partners.
Research security can be characterized as the Government of Canada's attempt to defend, protect, and promote the security of all aspects of our research enterprise in the academic, public, and private sectors. This is an intersectional issue that touches on measures to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD's) and dual-use technology, to reinforce our economic security, and to prevent and deter foreign interference.
Awareness-raising is a key component part of Public Safety's outreach efforts to Canadian researchers through the Safeguarding Science initiative, along with resilience and capacity-building. Despite a lack of dedicated resources, Safeguarding Science has helped to raise awareness in Canada's research institutions of the risks of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear proliferation; counter-proliferation in Canada; dual-use technology; cybersecurity; and how to mitigate these risks. To date, Safeguarding Science workshops have been delivered to 34 universities and 19 federal labs across Canada; in 2020 alone, and in spite of limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, over 200 researchers and scientists received a Safeguarding Science workshop. Efforts are currently underway to increase delivery to the private, provincial, and federal sectors as well.
In September 2020, the Government of Canada also launched the "Safeguarding Your Research" online portal to provide publicly-available information, tools and guidance on the risk of research theft and espionage, which can serve as a place for developing further guidance in the future. The Government also released a policy statement on research security, co-signed by the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and the Minister of Health.
Canada is not alone in these concerns: several of our Five Eyes allies have grappled with the same issues, along with international partners including France, Germany, Demark, Japan, and the Czech Republic.
Prepared by: Maya Stewart, Senior Policy Analyst, 613-290-8007
Approved by: Dominic Rochon, Senior ADM, 613-990-4976
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