Information Sharing for National Security
On this page:
- Why national security agencies need to share information
- Protection of Personal Information
- Accountability and Oversight
- Strategic Coordination Centre on Information Sharing
- Feature: National Security Public Opinion Research Snapshot
Why national security agencies need to share information
Threats to Canada's national security emerge rapidly and evolve unpredictably. These threats come from both state and non-state actors, domestic and foreign, and represent a significant danger to the security, stability and prosperity of Canada.
Responding to national security threats requires a whole of government approach, as several federal government institutions can hold different pieces of information. A collaborative legal framework allows these institutions to work effectively together to share their information in order to understand and respond to a complete threat picture and keep Canadians safe. Additionally, sharing information with foreign entities assists Government of Canada departments in fulfilling their respective national security mandates.
Depending on their role and responsibilities, federal government institutions may have different legislative authorities for sharing information for national security purposes. These authorities govern how each institution handles personal information in their possession, including when, why and how they may share information to address a national security threat.
- More on the Security of Canada Information Disclosure Act
- More on the Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities Act
Protection of Personal Information
A fundamental obligation of the Government of Canada is to protect our safety and security at home and abroad. Equally fundamental is the obligation to respect the rights and freedoms we expect as Canadians living in a free and democratic society.
The sharing of information by federal government institutions, even for national security purposes, continues to be governed by Canada's existing legal framework, which includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Privacy Act. When sharing information for national security purposes, Government of Canada institutions must uphold and respect this existing framework which protects personal information and fundamental rights and freedoms, while working to achieve their national security objectives., while working to achieve their national security objectives.
The principles of proportionality and necessity guide responsible information sharing and help ensure that Canadians' rights and freedoms are upheld. Together, these principles support a national security information sharing framework that can effectively disrupt and mitigate threats in a way that does not affect any person's rights and freedoms more than is reasonably necessary to keep Canada safe.
Accountability and Oversight
National security information sharing, just like other government actions, requires checks and balances to ensure that authorities are used responsibly. Independent review bodies such as the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) and the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) help keep Government of Canada institutions accountable in sharing information for national security purposes.
The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) was established in 2019 to help ensure that national security and intelligence activities are lawful, reasonable and necessary. NSIRA has a mandate to independently review all federal national security and intelligence activities, including national security information sharing under the Security of Canada Information Disclosure Act (SCIDA) and the Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities Act (ACMFEA). While NSIRA provides many of its findings and recommendations to relevant Ministers through classified reports, it publishes an unclassified annual report to the Prime Minister and a report on the disclosures of information performed under the SCIDA. Additionally, NSIRA reviews the implementation of the ACMFEA and its related directions annually.
The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), established in 2017, is another independent review body with a broad mandate. The NSICOP reviews national security and intelligence frameworks, activities carried out by specific departments, and other matters relating to national security or intelligence that is referred to them.
Together, these review bodies, along with the legislative protections in place, help to ensure that the rights and freedoms of Canadians are protected.
Public Safety Canada recently surveyed 2,000 randomly selected Canadians to better understand public awareness, knowledge and attitudes surrounding transparency and information sharing for national security purposes within the Government of Canada.
In 2022, Public Safety Canada surveyed 2,000 randomly selected Canadians to better understand public awareness, knowledge and attitudes surrounding transparency and information sharing for national security purposes within the Government of Canada.
- Date modified: