Summary Report of the Meeting of the National Security Transparency Advisory Group (NS-TAG) June 10, 2020
Held via Videoconference
- William Baker
- Khadija Cajee
- Mary Francoli
- Thomas Juneau (co-chair)
- Myles Kirvan
- Justin Mohammed
- Bessma Momani
- Dominic Rochon (co-chair)
- Jeffrey Roy
- Harpreet Jhinjar
"Privacy Protection, Artificial Intelligence, the Digital World and Cybersecurity: Are Canadians' Information Expectations and Needs Met?"
Invited Guests and Speakers:
Lisa Austin – Professor, University of Toronto, Chair in Law and Technology
Dina Kamal – Partner, Omnia AI, Deloitte Canada
Florian Kerschbaum – Associate Professor, David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo; Director of the Waterloo Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute
Christopher Parsons – Senior Research Associate at the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto
National Security Community Members Present (as observers):
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC), Department of National Defence (DND), Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Public Safety Canada (PS).
- Opening of the Meeting and Roll Call.
- Discussion Session with Guests: Privacy Protection, Artificial Intelligence, the Digital World and Cybersecurity: Are Canadians' Information Expectations and Needs Met?
- Date of the Next Meeting and Closing of the Meeting.
Following the cancellation of the in-person meeting scheduled for the end of March in Toronto (due to the pandemic), the first virtual NS-TAG meeting took place on June 10, 2020 with the theme, "Privacy Protection, Artificial Intelligence, the Digital World and Cybersecurity: Are Canadians' Information Expectations and Needs Met?". Members of the NS-TAG and four guests discussed: encryption, computer & Internet vulnerabilities; COVID-19 contact tracing apps; data security and privacy; oversight and accountability mechanisms; Canadians' knowledge and awareness of national security issues; the use of artificial intelligence; and gaps in national security-related information disclosure.
Key Takeaways of the Discussion Session with Guests:
- Guests said that transparency alone is not enough to address the deficit of public trust in Canada's national security institutions. For transparency to be meaningful, it must be coupled with accountability. This means going beyond the routine disclosure of information – e.g. saying what the Government is doing – by developing and strengthening mechanisms to identify and address when authorities or standards have not been respected.
- Guest speakers recognized that necessary national security review bodies are in place, but said that there is a lack of evaluation standards that can be consistently and rigorously applied and assessed.
- It is important for the public to better understand the powers and abilities of national security institutions. One priority in this area should be to make the interpretation of legal authorities accessible to Canadians, including the powers of government institutions with national security mandates and the implications of assistance mandates.
- Canadians have a deficit of knowledge when it comes to topics involving data collection, use and storage. Guest speakers indicated that enhanced publications processes from federal departments and agencies, as well as more clarity on how relevant laws are being interpreted, would help bolster Canadians' knowledge and better inform public and Parliamentary debate.
- Meeting attendees discussed how more public debate and outreach events, such as inclusive cybersecurity dialogues, could improve the Government's ability to connect with the public on issues, including cybersecurity and digital privacy.
- On privacy issues regarding COVID-19 contact tracing apps, guest speakers recommended that the Government seek the insight of marginalized communities that have experienced similar crises in the past and consider how diverse communities may be affected by these apps.
- Guests mentioned that the private sector would benefit from clear guidance on the use of artificial intelligence, big data and other current digital trends, as well as enhanced government partnerships. A closer partnership with the private sector could help identify standards for cybersecurity Canada-wide.
- According to guests, the Canadian Government has the capacity to take a global leadership role in providing guidance and proposing how AI, including its use and risks, should be managed in a national security context.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
- Date modified: