June 24, 2012
OTTAWA — Online spying and other cyber threats have pushed the government to invoke a national security exemption on trade obligations, effectively banning foreign IT companies from working on a new federal telephone system in Ottawa.
It’s the first in a series of planned contracting restrictions intended to erect a “cyber perimeter” around the multibillion-dollar overhaul of the government’s vast and aging email, telecommunications, networking and data centre infrastructure.
“These systems have been the target of hostile threats which causes grave concerns about the implications of cyber threats on Canada’s national security,” warns a Public Works letter recently circulated to the IT industry.
A “national security exception” is typically invoked for military procurements and overrides trading obligations under the North American Free Trade Act, the World Trade Organization and the federal-provincial Agreement on Internal Trade.