ITAC Submission to National Security Review


On December 15th, 2016 ITAC provided its submission to Public Safety Canada’s consultation on National Security. ITAC’s submission [itac-national-security-review-response] was developed by a working group of members as well as through an in-person consultation session held with three government departments in November 2016.

The National Security Consultation considers (and revisits) a number of highly important issues around the balance of security, privacy other fundamental freedoms for Canadians.  Because the internet and other communications technologies are at the core of many of the issues discussed, the outcomes of the review could also have a significant impact on the growth and competitiveness of Canada’s innovation economy. ITAC’s response highlights three core areas:

  1. Balancing Security, Privacy and Fundamental Freedoms

Many ICT firms find themselves in the unenviable position as intermediary between end users of their products, on the one hand, and law enforcement and national security agencies, on the other.  Before putting any new requirements on ICT businesses, the government must work to build a consensus across Canadian society on the acceptable use and proper oversight of surveillance technologies.

  1. Impact of Surveillance Requirements on Canada’s Innovation Economy

Not only could surveillance capabilities or backdoor requirements potentially undermine the freedom and online security of Canadians, they could undermine Canada’s innovation economy.  For instance, Canada-specific technical requirements will make it more difficult for businesses, to compete in the global marketplace and costlier for Canadian consumers and businesses to adopt productivity enhancing tools. Canada’s strong privacy regime is also currently an international competitive advantage that new surveillance laws could erode.

  1. Cost of Government Proposals

Many of the national security tools described in the government’s Green Paper would result in significant capital and ongoing costs.  As law enforcement expenditures, these costs are appropriately borne by the government. ICT businesses should be fully compensated for any new cost to comply with government-imposed law enforcement requirements.

The ITAC Response also provides detailed insights on four consultation areas highlighted under “Investigative Capabilities in the Digital Age,” including:

  • Access to Basic Subscriber Information
  • Intercept Capability
  • Encryption, and;
  • Data Retention

There is no doubt that, along with a myriad of benefits, technology has created new platforms for criminal or terrorist activity. While it is clear that law enforcement approaches to investigating and preventing crime need to adapt to these new platforms, it is critical that the government ensure that any changes to law enforcement powers do not undermine Canada’s innovation economy or the privacy or fundamental freedom of Canadians.  ITAC and our members look forward to continuing discussions with government on these essential issues for our country.

The full ITAC response paper can be viewed here itac-national-security-review-response-15dec2016

For questions or further details, please contact David Messer, Sr. Director Policy, ITAC at