Blackberry Cellular Phone and Email services - SIGNET Electronic Messaging

Executive Summary

The Blackberry service is a valuable tool at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, enabling employees to be more responsive and remain connected to their office environment. Blackberries provide telephone service, Internet browsing, corporate mailbox access, SMS (text messaging), and some other device-specific features (eg. camera).

All employees (including locally engaged staff and contract employees) are eligible to receive a BlackBerry, subject to the program manager’s approval. However, eligibility for locally engaged staff and contract employees is subject to review if additional access to corporate applications is provided in the future.

There are currently over 3,300 DFAIT users relying on Blackberry services across the world with the number of users expected to increase. The user group spans all divisions and includes, with a few exceptions, any mission that has the Blackberry service provided by a local carrier. At present, there are 150 carriers used around the world, and two carrier of choice in Canada.

The Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) was developed as part of the Department’s commitment to protection of personal information. It also meets the Management of Information Technology Security requirements obligating departmental major services to undergo a security and privacy assessment at this point.

The scope of the PIA was limited to the Blackberry Services and associated operational processes. It is important to note that the privacy assessment assessed personal information collected from employees of the Department in order to provide employees access to the Departmental approved Blackberry service.

While Blackberry and the Email system provide the opportunity for departmental programs and services to use this infrastructure to operate their programs, each program is responsible for the management of information collected, including any personal information, which may be collected. The service is considered a departmental communication tool, similar to the telephone, which can be used by all programs and services to meet their mandate and objectives. Each program or service has been given a mandate by the department, and in accordance with its own mandate and through the conduct of day-to-day operations, they may collect and store personal information. Each program is responsible to undertake a privacy assessment and address any potential risks relating to its information.

DFAIT has a requirement to ensure that departmental Blackberry operations has taken all reasonable measures to protect personal information and its possible disclosure. In the course of conducting the programs and activities of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Blackberry units may accumulate personal information related to program delivery. DFAIT uses the Blackberry Service for non-classified departmental activities. The device provides an ability to receive telephone calls and messages as well as review corporate email. The content of emails, telephone calls and voice messages relate to the department’s business, program and service delivery in order to fulfill its mandate.

The process of privacy impact assessment associated with Blackberry services rendered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) found no serious adverse impact to employees’ personal information and its protection by the Department.

While there are discussion points resulting from the assessment, there were no risks found that required mitigation strategies.