Security of Information Act

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The Security of Information Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. O-5),[1] formerly known as the Official Secrets Act, is an Act of the Parliament of Canada that addresses national security concerns, including threats of espionage by foreign powers and terrorist groups, and the intimidation or coercion of ethnocultural communities in and against Canada.

Key provisions of the Act[edit]

Section Description Maximum sentence
1–2 Short title and definitions.
3 Prejudice to the safety or interest of the State.
4 Wrongful communication, etc., of information; Communication of sketch, plan, model, etc.; Receiving code word, sketch, etc.; Retaining or allowing possession of document, etc. As per s. 27.
5 Unauthorized use of uniforms; falsification of reports, forgery, personation and false documents; Unlawful dealing with dies, seals, etc. As per s. 27.
6 Approaching, entering, etc., a prohibited place. As per s. 27.
7 Interference with or impeding of a peace officer or a member of Her Majesty’s forces engaged on guard, sentry, patrol or other similar duty in relation to a prohibited place. As per s. 27.
8–12 Provisions relating to special operational information and persons permanently bound to secrecy.
13 Purported communication of special operational information. On indictment, imprisonment for up to 5 years less a day.
14 Unauthorized communication of special operational information. On indictment, imprisonment for up to 14 years.
15 Public interest defence relating to offences under ss. 14–15.
16 Communicating safeguarded information with a foreign entity or a terrorist group. On indictment, imprisonment for life.
17 Communicating special operational information with a foreign entity or a terrorist group. On indictment, imprisonment for life.
18 Breach of trust in respect of safeguarded information. On indictment, imprisonment for up to 2 years.
19 Economic espionage. On indictment, imprisonment for up to 10 years.
20 Foreign-influenced or terrorist-influenced threats or violence. On indictment, imprisonment for life.
21 Harbouring or concealing a person who has committed or is likely to commit such an offence. On indictment, imprisonment for up to 10 years.
22 Preparatory acts. On indictment, imprisonment for up to 2 years.
23 Conspiracy, attempts, accessory after the fact, or counselling in relation to an offence. Same as for principal offence.
24 Prosecution requires the assent of the Attorney General.
25 An offence may be tried in any place in Canada.
26 Act has extraterritorial application, where the person committing the offence is a Canadian citizen, a person owing allegiance to Her Majesty in right of Canada, a person engaged with a Canadian mission outside Canada, or a person present in Canada after the offence has been committed.
27 Default punishment under the Act. On indictment, imprisonment for up to 14 years; on summary conviction, imprisonment for up to 12 months, a fine up to $20,000, or both.

Certain departments ('Scheduled department') and classes of people (past and current employees) are 'permanently bound to secrecy' under the Act. These are individuals who should be held to a higher level of accountability for unauthorized disclosures of information obtained in relation to their work. For example, Military Intelligence, employees of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Communications Security Establishment and certain members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

This act applies to anyone who has been granted security clearance by the Federal Government, including those who have been granted Reliability Status for accessing designated information. Previously, only 'classified' information was protected under the Official Secrets Act 1981.

Convictions[edit]

The first conviction and sentencing under the Security of Information Act was handed down in February, 2013. Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle was convicted for selling top secret Canadian military intelligence to the Embassy of Russia in Ottawa.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]


External links[edit]