Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP)

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office administers the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act on behalf of CSE and serves as the centre of expertise in those areas.

The ATIP Office processes formal requests under the Acts, responds to consultations received from other government institutions and handles complaints lodged with the Information and Privacy Commissioners. The ATIP Office also promotes greater awareness with respect to the Acts, and supports CSE in meeting its commitments to the protection of Privacy rights, while supporting the applicant's legislated Right of Access to records under the control of CSE.

In these web pages, CSE provides information to help the public gain access to government records by using the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act. This site contains contact information, links to request forms and other useful information. You can also consult the Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.

Access to Information Act

The Access to Information Act gives Canadian citizens, permanent residents and any individual or corporation present in Canada the right of access to records under the control of a government institution, subject to limited and specific exceptions. The Access to Information Act further provides that decisions on the non-disclosure of information can be reviewed independently of government. While the Act provides a right to seek access to existing records, it does not make provisions for institutions to create records or to answer specific questions in response to a request.

The Access to Information Act also specifies that it is intended to complement existing procedures for obtaining government information and is not to limit in any way the type of information that is normally available to the public, thereby denoting the importance of informal access. The Government of Canada is committed to openness and transparency and respects both the spirit and requirements of the Access to Information Act, the Access to Information Regulations and related policy instruments.

Who can make a request under the Access to Information Act

Every Canadian citizen, permanent resident, corporation, and any individual who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, but is present in Canada at the time of the request is made, are permitted to make an Access to Information Act request.

Note: If you do not meet the admissibility criteria when making your request, you may use a third party or representative who can make the request. If the request is for personal information, a written consent to disclose your personal information to your representative should be provided along with the request.

In the event that you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living outside of the country, please provide with your application the appropriate documentation as proof of citizenship. Photocopies of your birth certificate or passport are acceptable.

How to submit an Access to Information Act request

There is an initial $5.00 processing fee, which covers the first 5 hours of research and preparation time. If a request requires more than 5 hours, a fee estimate will be calculated and sent to you detailing the costs. The cost of research and preparation beyond the 5 hours time limit is $2.50 per quarter hour. There are also provisions for other chargeable fees to be paid by the requester. More information on fees can be found in the Access to Information Regulations, Section 7

To make an Access to Information Act request, you may either submit your request on the Treasury Board Secretariat prescribed request form or you may send a written request describing the records you are seeking and any relevant details necessary to help us find them. In the absence of the prescribed form, you must mention that the request is made pursuant to the Access to Information Act and that you have a right of access by virtue of your Canadian citizenship/permanent resident, or because you are physically in Canada. Request should be mailed to:

Communications Security Establishment
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator
P.O. Box 9703
Terminal
Ottawa, Ontario
K1G 3Z4
(613) 991-8443
atip-aiprp@cse-cst.gc.ca

For CSE to process an Access to Information Act request, we require the following:

  • all requests must be made in writing and include your original signature;
  • there is an application fee of $5.00 payable before work is started;
  • payment can be made by cheque or money order to “The Receiver General of Canada”; and
  • we do not accept credit cards.

Please provide sufficient detail to enable an experienced employee of the institution with a reasonable effort to identify the record.

Tips for filling an Access to Information Act request

Because of the costs associated with the processing of Access to Information Act requests, we strongly advise that you be as specific as possible when describing the records you want so that we may locate and process them as quickly as possible. A cost-effective request is focused on specific records, e.g., a memorandum or a briefing note on a given topic, that was generated within a given time period.

The cost and time of processing a request can be significantly reduced by eliminating some or all of the following records from the scope of your request:

  • draft documents;
  • duplicates;
  • e-mails;
  • French records if they exist in an English format; and
  • documents that originate from another government institution.

You may wish to split your request by submitting separate ones. While a separate application fee will apply, you are assured of five free hours of search time and a fee waiver with respect to the first 125 pages being provided to you on each request.

Note: The processing of an ambiguous request will not begin until the request has been clarified. The ATIP Office will send you a Notice of Clarification to get confirmation of the rescoped request in writing before continuing to process the file.

Ensure that you provide a telephone number where we can reach you during the day or an e-mail address to permit us to communicate with you if need be.

Privacy Act

The purpose of the Privacy Act is to protect the privacy of individuals with respect to their personal information. It also governs the federal government’s collection, retention, use and disclosure of that information, providing individuals (including those in Canada who are not permanent residents or citizens) with a right of access to their personal information.

Who can make a request under the Privacy Act

Every individual who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident and any person present in Canada, is entitled to make a Privacy Act request.

In the event that you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living outside of the country, please provide with your application the appropriate documentation as proof of citizenship. Copies of your birth certificate or passport are acceptable.

Note: If you are not entitled to make a request under the Privacy Act, you may use a third party or a representative who can file a request under the Access to Information Act for your personal information. A written consent authorizing CSE to disclose your personal information to your representative should accompany the request.

How to submit a Privacy Act request

There are no costs associated with the processing of Privacy Act requests. Requests made under this legislation are free of charge.

Subsection 13(2) of the Privacy Act states that a request for access to personal information shall be made in writing to the government institution that has control of the information. The request should provide sufficiently specific information on the location and nature of the records in order for the institution to be able to retrieve the information in question.

For CSE to process a Privacy Act request, we require the following information:

  • full name;
  • date of birth (for identification purposes only);
  • the Personal Information Bank(s) required to be searched (found in Info Source);
  • a return address to send the information to;
  • an original signature (we are unable to process requests that are faxed or e-mailed as they do not contain an original signature): and
  • if you are requesting personal information that is not your own, you must include a duly signed consent form from the concerned individual to disclose his/her personal information to you.

You may either submit your request on the Personal Information Request Form or by writing a letter. Please include any details that could assist us in locating the information. In the absence of the prescribed form, you must mention that you are requesting information pursuant to the Privacy Act and that you are a Canadian citizen/permanent resident or are physically in Canada. Request should be mailed to:

Communications Security Establishment
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator
P.O. Box 9703
Terminal
Ottawa, Ontario
K1G 3Z4
(613) 991-8443
atip-aiprp@cse-cst.gc.ca

Note: The personal information banks may be identified by bank name or number. For more information on the submission of a Privacy Act request, please consult the Treasury Board Secretariat publication Info Source.

Principles for assisting applicants

In processing your access request under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act, we will:

  1. Process your request without regard to your identity.
  2. Offer reasonable assistance throughout the request process.
  3. Provide information on the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act, including information on the processing of your request and your right to complain to the Information Commissioner of Canada or the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
  4. Inform you as appropriate and without undue delay when your request needs to be clarified.
  5. Make every reasonable effort to locate and retrieve the requested records under the control of the government institution.
  6. Apply limited and specific exemptions to the requested records.
  7. Provide accurate and complete responses.
  8. Provide timely access to the requested information.
  9. Provide records in the format and official language requested, as appropriate.
  10. Provide an appropriate location within the government institution to examine the requested information.

How to file a complaint

Applicants who are not satisfied with the results of an Access to Information Act or Privacy Act request have the right to file a complaint with:

Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (Access to Information Act)
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1H3
Email: general@oic-ci.gc.ca

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (Privacy Act)
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1H3
Toll-free: 1-800-282-1376
Phone: 819-994-5444
TTY: 819-994-6591

You may wish to contact us before filing a complaint as we may be able to rectify the situation or may be able to more clearly explain why we could not provide the information to you.

How to reach us

Communications Security Establishment
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator
P.O. Box 9703, Terminal
Ottawa, Ontario K1G 3Z4
Telephone: 613-991-8443
Facsimile: 613-991-5702
atip-aiprp@cse-cst.gc.ca

Hours of service: Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Eastern Time.

Access to Information Act:

Privacy Act:

Others: