Response from Chief of Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) to the Commissioner's letter
October 11, 2013
Ms. Jennifer Stoddard
112 Kent Street, 3rd floor
Dear Commissioner Stoddard:
The Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) agrees with you that publishing government data sources of personal information in indexes such as InfoSource, or publishing summaries of Privacy Impact Assessments online, are two important means of achieving greater accountability and transparency.
As I noted in my letter of July 4, with the creation of CSEC as a stand alone agency, responsibility for administration of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act was transferred from the Department of National Defence (DND) to CSEC, effective April 1, 2013. Previously, our Personal Information Banks (PJB) were listed as part of DND.
I am pleased to inform you that CSEC has completed its updating of its PIBs, and will be posting our lnfoSource submission shortly, in advance of our December 2013 deadline established by the Treasury Board Secretariat. The InfoSource posting will contain a listing of our institution specific and standard PIBs.
I can assure you protecting the privacy of Canadians is a fundamental value for CSEC. We have certainly appreciated the advice we have received from your officials during previous reviews your office has conducted at CSEC. The recommendations from both your office and the CSE Commissioner have helped improve our privacy policies and practices and we will continue to cooperate fully with your office.
On the broader issues you raise, I agree with you on the importance of CSEC being as open and transparent as possible in its activities while balancing our obligations to protect classified information under the Security of Information Act.
I also agree with you that strong oversight and a clear commitment to rigorous privacy governance are critical in the context of our security and intelligence operations.
As you are aware, a critical element of our accountability to the Minister, to Parliament and to Canadians, is the review of our activities by the external CSE Commissioner. The Commissioner has full access to our staff, systems and data to ensure CSE conducts its activities in accordance with law and to protect the privacy of Canadians, in accordance with the Privacy Act.
We will continue to look for opportunities to be as open and transparent as possible, within the constraints of national security and public safety. In that regard, I wish to thank you for your offer of assistance and would welcome continued collaboration between our organizations as CSEC moves forward on privacy-related initiatives.
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