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Sensitive letter leaked to media not treated as confidential

In one case that came to our attention, a highly sensitive letter from a cabinet minister to a senior official had been properly designated as “Protected B – sensitive personal information,” but was not handled in accordance with the Government Security Policy.

It remains unclear what happened next, but in the absence of adequate confidentiality safeguards, the letter was eventually leaked to a newspaper and republished widely across Canada.

An RCMP investigation and an internal review by the department, which is not being identified here in order to protect the identity of the subject of the letter, could not confirm the identity or the motive of the leaker.

In the wake of this incident, the department gave its records-management staff more training. The case underscores how important it is for public servants to understand their obligations under both the Privacy Act and the Government Security Policy.

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