Summary of the Meeting of the National Security Transparency Advisory Group (NS-TAG) - May 12, 2021
Held via Videoconference
- Michèle Audette
- William Baker
- Khadija Cajee
- Harpreet Jhinjar
- Thomas Juneau (co-chair)
- Myles Kirvan
- Justin Mohammed
- Bessma Momani
- Dominic Rochon (co-chair)
- Jeffrey Roy
- Mary Francoli
- “Connecting with Diverse Communities: Enhancing How National Security Organizations Engage, Build Trust, and Evaluate Success” – Part One
Invited Guests and Speakers:
- Paul Boudreau – Executive Director of Technical Operations, Specialized Policing Services, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Stéphanie Le Saux-Farmer – Analyst, National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP)
National Security Community Members Present (as observers):
Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Public Safety Canada (PS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Department of National Defence (DND).
- Opening of the Meeting and Roll Call
- Discussion on the Year Two Report
- Discussion Session with Guest Speakers: “Connecting with Diverse Communities: Enhancing How National Security Organizations Engage, Build Trust, and Evaluate Success” – Part One
- Closing Remarks
The eleventh virtual NS-TAG meeting took place on May 12, 2021, on the theme “Connecting with Diverse Communities: Enhancing How National Security Organizations Engage, Build Trust, and Evaluate Success – Part One”. During the first session of the meeting, the NS-TAG discussed the finalization and publication of their second report, as well as potential outreach activities they could undertake to engage external and internal stakeholders once the report is published. Finally, a member offered to possibly organize an informal meeting in June to discuss lessons learned. During the second session, the first guest speaker discussed the use of Clearview Artificial Intelligence (AI) by the RCMP and the challenges that presented, as well as presented the newly formed National Technologies On Boarding Program (NTOP). The second guest speaker presented the NSICOP Study of “Diversity and Inclusion in the Security and Intelligence Community”.
Key Takeaways of the Discussion with Guests
- The first guest speaker presented the newly formed NTOP, which looks at operational technologies used in investigations as well as techniques used in investigations from a legal, privacy and technical perspective. He also discussed the RCMP’s use of Clearview AI.
- The guest speaker presented the NTOP’s six guiding principles, which are:
- Respond and promote the use of scrutinized technology for operational needs through innovation or procurement;
- Leverage internal technology experts and establish a standard evaluation framework;
- Develop appropriate policy, legal and privacy frameworks;
- Work with internal business lines to identify, assess, document, and safely deploy new tools and techniques;
- Track the tool through management of a centralized inventory; and
- Be transparent, where possible, about how and when technology is used, starting with a clear operational need and public benefit.
- The most pressing driver for the RCMP to build the new on boarding program was the fact that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is investigating its use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology. The use of Clearview AI has made it clear that the RCMP has gaps that it needs to address when it comes to integrating new technologies.
- The RCMP is trying to become more transparent regarding their use of technology. For example, the RCMP now proactively shares, on an annual basis, the number of times they have deployed cell-site simulators. Cell-site simulators, also known as mobile device identifiers (MDIs), are surveillance devices that mimic cell phone towers and force all nearby phones to connect to them, rather than to the towers.
- The second guest speaker spoke about the findings of the NSICOP Diversity and Inclusion report. She mentioned that there is an underrepresentation of visible minorities and persons with disabilities across many organizations in the security and intelligence community. Representation of members of designated groups is lower than the federal public service average in a majority of the organizations in the security and intelligence community. The representation of women and members of visible minorities is lower at executive levels in a majority of the organizations covered by the review.
- On the question of diversity, the report identified a number of important indicators, the first one being accountability – who is responsible for increasing diversity inside an organization and is that responsibility shared across management? It found that there was an absence of meaningful and measurable performance indicators, particularly for middle managers who are primarily responsible for hiring decisions, and that much of the responsibility to hire was concentrated in Human Resources branches. The second indicator was organizational buy-in – whether employees and managers understand and support the importance of a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace. The third indicator was about understanding the workforce, specifically whether departments and agencies identified barriers faced by certain groups within their workforce. The final indicator was about recruitment and hiring, and whether departments and agencies were actively trying to recruit diverse employees, and if they were actively trying to deal with biases within their recruitment and hiring processes.
- The Committee made seven findings based on its review. They are as follows:
- The security and intelligence community has identified diversity and inclusion as a priority but its efforts to address them as a community have fallen short;
- The degree of representation of designated groups differs between organizations;
- Progress on resolving issues of harassment, violence and discrimination in organizations has been slow;
- Tracking and analysis of harassment complaints remains a significant challenge in a number of the organizations, and discrimination receives almost no attention in the organizations under review;
- Members of visible minorities are under-represented across a majority of organizations overall and in executive levels, and recruitment of this group has stalled or decreased in recent years;
- Organizations have adopted inconsistent planning, monitoring and review of employment equity goals, which undermines efforts to assess progress across the community; and,
- Accountability for diversity and inclusion is insufficient, and responsibility is concentrated in HR sections.
- Based on these findings, the Committee made four recommendations:
- That NSICOP itself conduct a retrospective review of this issue in 3 to 5 years, with an intention to focus more closely on the issue of inclusion.
- The security and intelligence community should adopt more consistent planning and monitoring of employment equity and diversity goals.
- Departments and agencies should improve their data collection and analysis to better identify barriers faced by designated groups.
- The security and intelligence community should strengthen accountability through meaningful and measurable performance indicators.
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