Rescinded [2014-06-09] - Guideline for External Use of Web 2.0

This page has been archived on the Web

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Alternate Formats

1. Publication Date

The publication date of this guideline is November 18th, 2011, and it will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis as appropriate.

2. Purpose

This guideline is designed to provide specific guidance to Government of Canada departments on the use of externally facing Web 2.0 tools and services.

This guideline does not alter or replace any existing legislation or policy instrument. When interacting with external audiences through Web 2.0 tools and services for official purposes, departments must comply with existing legislative and policy requirements. This guideline includes practical advice to help departments make informed decisions about how to meet these requirements when using externally facing Web 2.0 tools and services. In addition, the guideline encourages departments to:

  • Designate clear accountability for the coordination of departmental Web 2.0 initiatives; and
  • Develop guidance for personnel on the use of Web 2.0 that addresses expected behaviours, benefits, risks and consequences for all types of potential use (official use, professional networking use and personal use).

This guidance may not cover every situation, but it will help departments make good choices that mitigate risks while maximizing benefits of these tools and services.

This guideline was released by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) Chief Information Officer Branch. It supports and should be read in conjunction with the Policy Framework for Information and Technology, including the Policy on Management of Information Technology and the Policy on Information Management, as well as the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, the guidance provided applies to the use of Web 2.0 tools and services developed by the Government of Canada and/or hosted on Government of Canada networks, as well as to those developed and/or hosted by a third party.

This guideline applies to departments as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act, unless excluded by specific acts, regulations, or Orders in Council. Other Government of Canada institutions may make use of this guideline as appropriate for their operational needs. Some of the policy instruments referenced in this guideline, including those relating to official languages, values and ethics, and political activities, have specific applications that may be broader or narrower than the intended audience of this guideline, therefore each department should accordingly give consideration to its specific obligations. All Government of Canada departments are encouraged to draw on this guideline to complement and support their existing obligations.

3. Background

Web 2.0 refers to Internet-based tools and services that allow for participatory multi-way information sharing, dialogue, and user-generated content. This can include social media, which allow participants with distinct social/user profiles to create, share and interact with user-generated content, including text, images, video and audio (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linked-In, blogs) as well as collaborative technologies that allow multiple users to collaboratively create content (e.g. Wikis, Google Docs).

Government of Canada departments are encouraged to use Web 2.0 tools and services as an efficient and effective additional channel to interact with the public. A large number of Canadians are now regularly using Web 2.0 tools and services to find information about, and interact with, individuals and organizations. For many Canadians, Web 2.0 is increasingly becoming a primary channel for sending, receiving and generating information. Because of the participatory nature of Web 2.0, it can help facilitate interactive and rapid communication and engagement between government departments, their partners and their clients, with some common uses including:

  • Recruitment;
  • Risk and emergency communications;
  • Services to the public;
  • Stakeholder outreach and education;
  • As a collaborative tool; and
  • Consultation.

Though the use of Web 2.0 is encouraged because of the many potential benefits, departments should remain aware of the risks and challenges that the use of Web 2.0 can sometimes present, including:

  • Difficulty reconciling existing constitutional, statutory, regulatory and policy obligations with the technological constraints and usage patterns of these tools and services (e.g. reconciling Official Languages requirements with a Web 2.0 tool that has per-message characters limits);
  • Potential misuse of Government of Canada content that is shared through Web 2.0 tools and services, particularly when subject to the terms of service of third-party Web 2.0 service providers (e.g. profile information being reused by a third-party service for advertising);
  • Negative perceptions resulting from Web 2.0 initiatives associated with the Government of Canada, including users posting offensive or abusive comments, attempts to engage in dialogue about political decisions or direction, on-line vandalism, and inability to fulfill reasonable expectations of timely two-way communication;
  • Misinterpretation of online activity and/or comments as the official position of the Government of Canada rather than that of an individual;
  • Challenges in protecting the privacy of both personnel and the public who are interacting through Web 2.0 tools and services; and
  • Extensive and legally binding terms of service that can, if not sufficiently understood and respected, present legal risks for the Government of Canada and individuals.

4. Key Considerations for Web 2.0 Initiatives

This section provides advice and guidance on key considerations for departments when developing and executing externally facing Web 2.0 initiatives. Specifically, it provides key considerations for the following phases of the life-cycle of a Web 2.0 initiative:

  • Governance and Oversight;
  • Planning and Design;
  • Rules of Engagement; and
  • Evaluation and Measurement,

Departments should ensure that their use of Web 2.0 is consistent with their mandate. Management of Web 2.0 initiatives should be included in regular departmental planning exercises to address business value, governance, resources, costs, communications, policy and legislative requirements, as well as risks and challenges of use.

  1. Departments should designate a senior official accountable and responsible for the coordination of all Web 2.0 activities as well as an appropriate governance structure. It is recommended that the Head of Communications be the designated official. This designate should collaborate with departmental personnel who have expertise in using and executing Web 2.0 initiatives, as well as with representatives from the following fields in their governance structure: information management, information technology, communications, official languages, the Federal Identity Program, legal services, access to information and privacy, security, values and ethics, programs and services, human resources, the user community, as well as the Senior Departmental Official as established by the Standard on Web Accessibility. A multidisciplinary team is particularly important so that policy interpretations are appropriately made and followed when managing information resources through Web 2.0 tools and services.
  2. Governance of Web 2.0 initiatives should be clear, succinct and well communicated so that all departmental personnel are aware of their responsibilities and how decisions are made. The governance of Web 2.0 initiatives should be integrated with existing departmental governance structures to reduce duplication of effort, information and repositories, as well as to help ensure that engagement is consistent.
  3. When it is likely that a Web 2.0 initiative will require a Treasury Board submission (e.g. a requested modification under the Federal Identify Program (FIP) for a unique departmental or program identifier), the appropriate TBS analyst should be engaged early in the planning process.
  4. The designated departmental accountability centre for Web 2.0 initiatives should be the coordination point for creating and managing official departmental Web 2.0 accounts and profiles. It should also ensure that when creating these accounts and profiles the department uses customized terms of service for third-party Web 2.0 tools and services (see Appendix H for further information on customized terms of service).
  5. Approaches that reflect the participatory nature of Web 2.0 platforms should be encouraged and supported within the governance structure. These approaches may include developing or leveraging communities of practice and communities of interest, as well as processes to integrate these communities' input into current governance structures. Where multiple departments collaborate through Web 2.0 tools and services, cross-departmental governance is recommended.
  6. An overall departmental strategy (and policies, where required) for using Web 2.0 tools and services should be developed, which takes into account:
    • Existing mandate and business value for the department;
    • Policy and legislative obligations;
    • Departmental governance structures;
    • Operational requirements, including resources and costs;
    • Risks and challenges of use;
    • Assessing and granting access to Web 2.0 tools and services on departmental networks;
    • Expected and recommended behaviours and procedures for personnel;
    • Monitoring and consequences; and
    • Lessons learned and shared by other departments.
  1. Have a plan: For each Web 2.0 initiative, departments should develop a plan with input from departmental communications advisors that follows departmental policy and procedures with respect to external communications activities. This plan should outline:
    1. The business drivers for the use of Web 2.0 tools and services;
    2. How this use is aligned with overall governmental, departmental, program and/or project objectives to ensure that it is aligned with overall outcomes;
    3. Delineation of roles, responsibilities and accountabilities;
    4. Considerations of the target audiences (Internet behaviours, language preference, persons with disabilities, mobile technologies, literacy levels, knowledge and understanding of the issues, positions on issues, etc.) to help identify which are the most appropriate Web 2.0 tools and services for the department to be using, and how to manage interactions;
    5. The authorities for project ownership and approval, competition and contracting, intellectual property, and licences;
    6. A risk assessment and management plan;
    7. A communications plan to:
      1. Help outline the expected nature of the interactions;
      2. Respond to stakeholders, including when responses are critical, political, off-topic or abusive; and
      3. Ensure that messaging on Web 2.0 tools and services aligns with Government of Canada themes and messages on other channels.
    8. Allocation of appropriate resources (human, technical and financial), including the resources needed to manage the accounts in both official languages;
    9. The training required to ensure that personnel understand how to use Web 2.0 tools and services within the legislative and policy framework of the Government of Canada and the department;
    10. An approach for program evaluation including what metrics are available and what defines success;
    11. A proposed timeline for evaluation;
    12. A continuous improvement process to learn and improve the initiative; and
    13. How it will be phased out or transitioned if necessary.
  2. Comply with policies: When using Web 2.0 tools and services for official purposes, departments must ensure compliance with legislation and Treasury Board and departmental policies. Information about certain specific legislative and policy obligations is provided in the Appendix of this guideline, which should be referred to for more detailed guidance. As a summary of the Appendixes, the key policy considerations when developing a Web 2.0 initiative are as follows (in alphabetical order):
    1. Accessibility
      1. Government of Canada public facing Web pages (including Web applications) must comply with the accessibility requirements outlined in the Standard on Web Accessibility. Web 2.0 tools and services integrated into those Web pages (including Web applications) must also comply with the requirements outlined in the Standard on Web Accessibility; and
      2. Government of Canada Web content hosted on external third-party Web 2.0 tools and services (including Web sites) should conform to the Web accessibility best practices for those tools and services, and should include links to equivalent content on Government of Canada Web sites, which are required to meet the Standard on Web Accessibility.
    2. Communications
      1. Verify that the planned Web 2.0 initiative is congruent with Government of Canada themes and messages, as well as departmental communications' and consultations' objectives and requirements. Privy Council Office should be engaged early in the process to ensure alignment of Web 2.0 activities with Government of Canada communication and consultation priorities;
      2. Confirm that if the planned gathering of opinions or views through public interaction falls within the definition of public opinion research, that it complies with mandatory requirements under the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada and related Procedures for Planning and Contracting Public Opinion Research;
      3. Web 2.0 advertising activities must comply with mandatory requirements under the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada and related Procedures for Planning, Contracting and Evaluating Advertising; and
      4. Ensure that advertising from sources outside of government is not displayed alongside the department's Web 2.0 presence where possible to avoid perception of endorsement.
    3. Federal Identity Program
      1. Ensure that the Government of Canada or department is appropriately identified as required under the Federal Identity Program Policy; and
      2. Web 2.0 initiatives undertaken jointly with another government, company, organization, group or individual must clearly and equitably identify the participation of all parties.
    4. Information Management
      1. Review planned Web 2.0 initiatives for the ability to save or capture information of business value to ensure that relevant content can be stored and retrieved and to ensure that recordkeeping requirements and procedures are followed; and
      2. Departmental information management specialists can assist with determining ways to identify information of business value and to integrate Web 2.0 tools and services with recordkeeping and document management systems where necessary.
    5. Official Languages
      1. Ensure that each Web 2.0 tool or service under consideration supports content in both official languages, according to the Official Languages Act, the Policy on the Use of Official Languages for Communications with and Services to the Public and associated directives;
      2. Actively encourage participation in both official languages, including informing the public that there is an equal "activity" that they can access in the other official language;
      3. Ensure that terms of reference, conditions of use, departmental positions and disclaimers are available in both official languages;
      4. Ensure that management and editing tools, help sections, pop-up messages, site navigation, as well as user interfaces (including use of accents for French and equal access from initial points of entry) are available in each official language and are of equal quality. This is required when a Web 2.0 tool or service is being provided by the Government of Canada; when using a third-party Web 2.0 tool or service, departments should strive to meet these obligations and assess whether the platform should in fact be used;
      5. Ensure that if using two separate single-language accounts, that both versions have equal status (i.e. both versions considered to be official);
      6. Put in place a strategy to deal with comments from the public in both official languages. This strategy must include carefully monitoring both language versions of Web 2.0 tools or services being used so that when it appears that the department is receiving more public questions/comments in one language that require a general and public response, it ensures that it provides the same information to the public in both official languages. Departments should consider providing regular summaries of comments which are posted in both official languages simultaneously; and
      7. Plan ahead for translation at key milestones to ensure equality of services and quality in both official languages.
    6. Privacy and Access to Information
      1. Engage your departmental Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) office at a sufficiently early stage to assist in reviewing the privacy implications of the planned use of Web 2.0 tools and services. ATIP officials will help ensure that:
        1. The requirements of the Privacy Act are respected;
        2. TBS policy instruments, in particular that Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) requirements, are addressed where appropriate;
        3. In cases where personal information is used for non-administrative purposes only, that a privacy protocol addresses any personal information concerns;
        4. An appropriate privacy notice is developed for the site; and
        5. Procedures are in place to ensure any requirements under the Privacy Act or Access to Information Act are addressed
      2. Privacy, legal and security concerns related to sites hosted or owned by third parties are addressed; and
      3. Institutions should monitor Web 2.0 sites to ensure that any inappropriate, unsolicited or confidential information is removed.
    7. Procurement and Contracting
      1. If the acquisition of the Web 2.0 tool or service has costs associated with it, consult your departmental procurement and contracting experts for guidance;
      2. A contracting risk assessment must be undertaken for each of the Government of Canada's Web 2.0 initiatives that have a cost associated with the use of the respective tool or service. Conducting a risk assessment remains a good practice in the case of using no cost Web 2.0 tools and services; and
      3. Whenever possible, departments should use custom terms of service that have been negotiated by PWGSC for some third-party Web 2.0 tools and services. For more information on how to do so, please refer to the "Social media procurement process" page on GCpedia.
    8. Security
      1. Evaluate any unique security risks (e.g. identity theft, viruses, worms, phishing and Trojan Horses) associated with the Web 2.0 tools or services under consideration and identify approaches for information and technology security.
  3. Legal review: Prior to using Web 2.0 tools and services, departments should engage their legal services unit for advice on associated legal issues. In seeking advice, departments should provide legal counsel with information about the proposed use(s) including information about the Web 2.0 initiative's oversight plan, the particular Web 2.0 tool or service under consideration and the relevant terms of use. Key legal issues related to Web 2.0 initiatives will include:
    1. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canadian Human Rights Act;
    2. The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service;
    3. Privacy and Access to Information;
    4. Official Languages;
    5. Intellectual Property (including copyright);
    6. Procurement;
    7. Crown Liability; and
    8. Governing law.

Departments should develop rules of engagement for the public whenever using external Web 2.0 tools or services. The rules of engagement should be clearly posted on or linked from the Web 2.0 tool or service at an appropriate location, such as the departmental account profile or the main navigation page. The rules of engagement should, at a minimum, provide the following:

  1. Moderation criteria for:
    1. Topical posts or comments;
    2. Personal information and other protected or classified information;
    3. Political posts;
    4. Advertising, solicitation or spam;
    5. Profanity;
    6. Attacks; and
    7. Discrimination on the basis of, for example, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, or sexual orientation;
  2. Response time expectations;
  3. Intellectual property (including copyright), privacy, accessibility and official languages notices which include links to the corresponding legislation, Treasury Board or departmental policies; and
  4. Consequences for violation of the rules of engagement.

It is recommended that departments conduct evaluations of all Web 2.0 initiatives at regular intervals appropriate to the pace and nature of interactions, that:

  1. Measure to what extent the use of the Web 2.0 tool or service is meeting expected outcomes and providing business value;
  2. Ensure that the use of the Web 2.0 tool or service is reaching the desired target audiences;
  3. Evaluate compliance with policies, procedures and legal obligations;
  4. Establish processes to leverage outcomes of evaluation to improve the initiative, including updating personnel and managers' training needs.

Through the participation in cross-departmental working groups and by sharing the results of evaluation and measurement of Web 2.0 initiatives, departments should actively contribute to developing and maintaining Government of Canada best practices and procedures for using Web 2.0. Since Web 2.0 tools and services are ever-changing, this will allow the Government of Canada to keep current and assist all departments with governance and risk management.

5. Establishing Guidance for Personnel

It is recommended that departments provide personnel with guidance for their use of Web 2.0 that addresses expected behaviours, benefits, risks and consequences for all potential types of use. This guidance should be based on the principle that personnel are trusted in their use of Web 2.0 tools and services just as they are trusted in every other aspect of their work. When possible, existing guidance for personnel on the use of Web 2.0 that has been developed by other Government of Canada departments should be leveraged.

Government of Canada personnel may seek to use Web 2.0 tools and services in one or more of the following ways:

Official Use:
Use of an official departmental Web 2.0 account for departmental communication purposes, including as a spokesperson for the department or within the scope of an individual's duties in the course of their employment.
Professional Networking Use:
Use of an individual's personal Web 2.0 account for non-official communication purposes that are related to their employment, including participating in professional associations, knowledge sharing and career development.
Personal Use:
Use of an individual's personal Web 2.0 account for purposes unrelated to their employment.

1. In the development of guidance for their personnel on the use of Web 2.0 tools and services in official, professional networking, and personal use situations, departments may consider basing their guidance on the following statements which are broadly applicable to all Government of Canada personnel:

For Official Use:

  1. All Web 2.0 activities for Official Use should be undertaken with the support and under the direction of the department's designated official responsible for Web 2.0.
  2. When using Web 2.0 tools and services as part of your official duties, you may be acting as a designated departmental spokesperson in accordance with the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada. Your manager and communications advisors will provide you the guidance and permissions needed and help you put together a plan for engaging the public.
  3. Ensure that you have the proper authority prior to creating a profile on a Web 2.0 tool or service on behalf of your department.
  4. Whenever possible, you should use customized terms of service when creating a profile on a third-party Web 2.0 tool or service. For more information on how to do so, please refer to the "Social media procurement process" page on GCpedia.
  5. When using Web 2.0 tools or services for official use, compliance with relevant legislation and Treasury Board and departmental policies is required. The appendixes of the TBS Guideline for External Use of Web 2.0 provides specific advice as to how to comply with existing legislative and policy requirements governing interactions with external audiences through Web 2.0 tools and services and should be followed at all times.

For Professional Networking & Personal Use:

  1. Your obligations as outlined in the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service apply at all times, particularly if your employer could be identified through your use of Web 2.0 tools and services.
  2. By virtue of your employment, information shared through Web 2.0 tools and services may be perceived as an official Government of Canada position rather than your own opinion. You should therefore clearly state in your account profile that the views expressed are your own and not those of your employer. However, it is important to note that such a disclaimer does not absolve you of your obligations as a public servant, including your duty of loyalty to the Government of Canada.
  3. Forward all requests for statements or interviews from the media to your departmental communications advisor and/or provide a contact to your departmental media relations advisor as you may not be the authorized spokesperson on these matters for your department.
  4. Only publicly available information may be shared externally, unless you are specifically authorized otherwise. Always check permissions required to reproduce or distribute any information, including Government of Canada content such as illustrations, photographs, videos, audio, logos, trade-marks or wordmarks. Wherever possible, provide links to original source material and attribute as required to respect copyright and intellectual property rights.
  5. Personal information about others should not be posted through Web 2.0 tools and services, unless you have the explicit consent of the individual(s) to whom the information relates to do so.
  6. Divert work-related conversations to official channels (e.g. a Government of Canada e-mail account) as appropriate so that there is a record of any guidance provided or decisions taken.
  7. Do not use any Government of Canada corporate symbols or signatures in your use of Web 2.0 for professional networking or personal use. They are for use in official communication only.
  8. Remember that Web 2.0 interactions can be easily republished or repurposed without the original context, and may be permanently accessible. Be sure to understand the Web 2.0 environment and its associated risks.
  9. When creating an account on a Web 2.0 tool or service, if it is linked to your Government of Canada e-mail address it should only be used for professional networking purposes.
  10. If you have questions about an on-line activity that you want to or have engaged in, you should speak to your manager or Values and Ethics advisor.
  11. You must not engage in any activity that might put at risk the non-partisanship and impartiality of the public service. If you have questions about political expression through the use of Web 2.0 tools and services, you should speak to your manager or contact your department's designated political activities representative.
  12. If you are accessing Web 2.0 tools and services through Government of Canada networks, you must be aware of the terms of your department's policy regarding the use of electronic networks, including its monitoring, investigation and disciplinary provisions.

2. Departments are encouraged to provide training to assist personnel in understanding their obligations when using Web 2.0 tools and services in any capacity, under both the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service as a term and condition of employment, as well as the rights and legal obligations for personnel subject to Part 7 (political activities) of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA).

Fulfillment of these obligations is expected at all times as follows:

  • Public servants owe a duty of loyalty to the Government of Canada;
  • Do no harm to the reputation of your employer;
  • Maintain integrity and impartiality; and
  • Uphold the tradition of political neutrality of the Public Service.

An explanation of what, if any, employment consequences exist when contravening these obligations should be explicitly provided.

6. Additional Guidance Sources

Additional guidance on the use of Web 2.0 tools and services is in various stages of development by communities of expertise and Web 2.0 practitioners within the Government of Canada. Many of these resources are available to public servants on the Government of Canada's internal wiki, GCpedia. While these resources are not official Government of Canada policies or guidelines, they are valuable sources of information in this rapidly evolving environment. As a companion to this guideline, a GCpedia page listing additional sources of guidance on the use of Web 2.0 is available.

8. Definitions

Collaborative technologies
Internet-based technologies that allow multiple users to collaboratively create content.
Communications
A management function that ensures that the public - internal or external to the government - receives government information, and that the views and concerns of the public are taken into account in the planning, management and evaluation of policies, programs, services, and initiatives.
Department
A federal entity as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act unless excluded by specific acts, regulations, or Orders in Council.
External
For the purposes of this guideline, "external" or "externally facing" means available to members of the public as opposed to available only to personnel of the Government of Canada.
Guidelines
Information, usually in the form of best practices, intended to help departments carry out government policy efficiently and effectively. Guidelines are not mandatory policy instruments.
Information management (IM)
A discipline that directs and supports effective and efficient management of information in a department, from planning and systems development to disposal or long-term preservation.
Information resources of business value
Published and unpublished materials, irrespective of medium or form, that are created or acquired because they enable and document decision making in support of programs, services and ongoing operations, and support departmental reporting, performance and accountability requirements.
Information technology (IT)
Any equipment or system that is used in the automatic acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement, control, display, switching, interchange, transmission or reception of data or information. Information technology includes all matters concerned with the design, development, installation and implementation of information systems and applications to meet business requirements.
Personal information

Information about an identifiable individual that is recorded in any form. The Privacy Act provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of personal information, including the following:

  • Information relating to the race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, or marital status of the individual;
  • Information relating to the education or employment history of the individual, such as found in a résumé;
  • Information relating to the medical or criminal history of the individual;
  • Information relating to financial transactions in which the individual has been involved;
  • Any identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to the individual, such as a Social Insurance Number or Personal Record Identifier;
  • The address, fingerprints or blood type of the individual;
  • Correspondence sent to a government department by the individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to such correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence;
  • The views or opinions of another individual about the individual; and
  • The name of the individual where it appears with other personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name itself would reveal information about the individual.

The Privacy Act also provides examples of what does not constitute personal information, which include:

  • Selected information about government personnel, including their titles, business addresses and phone numbers;
  • Information about individuals acting under contract for government institutions; and
  • Information about an individual who has been dead for more than twenty years.
Personnel
Full- or part-time employees of the Government of Canada (e.g. indeterminate, seasonal, specified-period/term, student or casual).
Public consultations:
Processes whereby information is provided to the public in order to seek their views/concerns relating to the planning, management or evaluation of government policies, programs and services. As a best practice, the results of a consultation are always made public.
Public opinion research
The planned gathering, by or for a government department, of opinions, attitudes, perceptions, judgments, feelings, ideas, reactions or views that are intended to be used for any government purpose, whether that information is collected from persons (including personnel of government departments), businesses, departments or other entities, through quantitative or qualitative methods, irrespective of size or cost.
Social media
On-line platforms that allow for participants with distinct social/user profiles to create, share and interact with user-generated content, which can include text, images, video and audio.
Spokesperson
For the purposes of this guideline, "spokesperson" is understood as a function outlined in the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada.
Web 2.0
Internet-based tools and services that allow for participatory multi-way information sharing, dialogue, and user-generated content. This can include social media and collaborative technologies.

Appendix: Specific Policy Guidance (in alphabetical order)

Government of Canada public facing Web pages (including Web applications) must comply with the accessibility requirements outlined in the Standard on Web Accessibility. Web 2.0 tools and services integrated into those Web pages (including Web applications) must also comply with the requirements outlined in the Standard on Web Accessibility.

Government of Canada Web content hosted on external third-party Web 2.0 tools and services (including Web sites) should conform to the Web accessibility best practices for those tools and services, and should include links to equivalent content on Government of Canada Web sites, which are required to meet the Standard on Web Accessibility.

Some additional information resources about accessibility are as follows:

For more information about Government of Canada Web Standards, please contact your department's Web Centre of Expertise.

When using Web 2.0 tools or services to communicate or consult with the public as the department's representative, public servants are acting as designated spokespersons, according to the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada. Public servants are therefore required to consult their head of communications or his or her delegate before communicating with the public in an official capacity. The head of communications is responsible for overseeing and advising on content that informs the public of government priorities, policies, programs, services and initiatives.

According to the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, the head of communications for each department is responsible for ensuring that:

When public servants use Web 2.0 as designated spokespersons, they are to:

  • Confine their remarks to factual information concerning the priorities, policies, programs, services or initiatives of their department. Discussions on political matters are the exclusive domain of ministers and their offices;
  • Respect privacy rights, security requirements, the confidentially of matters before the courts, government policies, third parties' intellectual property rights, Cabinet confidences and ministerial responsibility; and
  • Identity themselves by name and department and, when feasible, position title.

Web 2.0 tools and services can present a challenge to the clear identification of official government content and accounts in accordance with the visual identity of the Government of Canada. On some Web 2.0 tools and services, the available visual space, page layouts and proprietary design controls limit the size and display of elements as well as the length of account names and official titles. Because of these constraints and the evolving nature of government's use of Web 2.0, the Federal Identity Program (FIP) has tailored its advice for identifying government content on Web 2.0 tools and services. The practical tips below provide general direction on basic identity considerations. It does not supersede the general requirements of FIP policy and standards and is to be read in conjunction with any templates produced for government-wide use.

Practical Tips for Complying with FIP Requirements:

  • Use the "Canada" wordmark and the appropriate government signature where sufficient space is available. Where space is insufficient to display both symbols, the "Canada" wordmark may be used alone.
  • Treasury Board approval must be received before using any unique identifying marks (logos, logotypes, marks, emblems, identifiers, etc.) to identify a department or its programs or services.
  • When the terms of use of a Web 2.0 tool or service include suspending the government's exclusive right to its official symbols, or authorizes use of the symbols by the service provider or other parties, departments should discuss the terms with their legal counsel. The TBS Federal Identity Program, in consultation with legal counsel, will determine the appropriate form of government identification in these specific instances.
  • When presenting official government symbols within a page format controlled by a Web 2.0 tool or service provider, carefully consider any visual elements, non-government corporate or brand elements, and the proximity of any proprietary advertising features to ensure that the official symbol(s) of government are free from any unintended association or distracting information.
  • Where avatars are insufficient for incorporating the "Canada" wordmark, the national flag of Canada is to be used as the primary element, rendered in its entirety as a two-dimensional image.
  • The official symbols of government may not be altered, presented vertically, obscured in any way, or integrated into text or designs. They must be free from distracting or interfering elements, with optimal contrast, and in accordance with the general principles of the Federal Identity Program.
  • All video clips must end with the "Canada" wordmark. Video advertisements and presentations must include the standard audio end credit "A message brought to you by the Government of Canada." Video clips that are presented individually or as a series, or that serve to animate data or present other information, may include the appropriate government signature rather than the standard audio end credit as appropriate.
  • Logos or corporate symbols of non-government organizations or private sector enterprises may not be incorporated into a department's content except when a) the elements form part of the Web 2.0 tool or service and are entirely outside the control of the department, or b) when the information pertains to a collaborative arrangement, in which case the official symbol of the partnering organization may be used.
  • Account names or "handles" should be clearly based on principal elements from a department's official title or acronym where possible and use functional and service-based words or terms otherwise. When establishing a Web 2.0 presence, consideration of official languages must be given to account names or handles.
  • Widgets and downloadable information or code developed by departments and made available to the general public for re-posting on non-government sites may not include the official symbol of the Government of Canada. The information source or author attributions in these cases must be text only.
  • Consideration must be given to photographs to ensure that author attribution and copyright information are embedded into those images offered as (or are likely to be used as) information re-posted on third-party sites.
  • The use of the official symbols of the government is limited to the official activities and communications of the Government of Canada. Use of these symbols in personal Web 2.0 activities is strictly prohibited.

Enquiries about these requirements may be directed to your department's Federal Identity Program Coordinator or to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat policy centre at: information@fip-pcim.gc.ca

As the Government of Canada increasingly makes use of Web 2.0 to support the development of policy and to meet operational requirements, the integration of information management requirements is essential to ensure that digital information of business value is accessible, shareable, and usable over time and through technological change.

The relevant policies that dictate which information created and maintained through Web 2.0 tools and services needs to be retained, and how this should be accomplished, are:

  • The Policy on Information Management which specifies that all decisions and decision-making processes must be documented to account for and support the continuity of departmental operations;
  • The Directive on Information Management Roles and Responsibilities which stipulates that all personnel of the Government of Canada are responsible for managing the information they collect, create and use in carrying out their work, including information published through Web 2.0 tools and services; and
  • The Directive on Recordkeeping which requires that all information be identified, documented and protected when it relates to decisions and decision-making processes, regardless of format.

Under the Directive on Recordkeeping, the following information resources associated with Web 2.0 tools and services are required to be captured in a departmental information repository as a record:

  • Official program information made available through external Web 2.0 tools and services that has not otherwise been recorded through official documentation such as departmental externally-facing web sites, briefing notes, project or communication plans, etc.
  • Information received from the public in response to requests for Government of Canada departments for information via external Web 2.0 tools and services.

Responses from the public received to a request for information sent out via Web 2.0 tools and services may form the basis of a report on a public consultation. These responses need to be captured as evidence of the consultation and the rationale for the decisions taken.

If the information needs to be kept, it is the responsibility of the government personnel who is posting on the Web 2.0 tool or service to capture the information by storing it in a departmental information repository as an official record. Departmental information repositories include physical or electronic storage space (e.g. shared drives, electronic documents and records management systems, records rooms, etc.). Web 2.0 tools and services are not considered to be approved information repositories for housing Government of Canada information.

The following resources are not required to be captured in departmental information repositories as a record as they are already recorded elsewhere:

  • New information, messages, or official pages posted on Web 2.0 tools and services that have already been captured in official documentation (e.g. externally-facing web sites, briefing notes, project or communications plans, etc.) that relate to decisions and decision-making processes or announcements regarding federal programs and services; and
  • Information in the form of electronic conversations that have taken place through the direct messaging components of external Web 2.0 tools and services.

Not all electronic conversations need to be kept. They only need to be captured when the conversation affects a decision being made or an action being taken by the government.

In a Web 2.0 environment, information created is often required only for a limited time to support the completion of a routine action, the preparation of a subsequent record, or casual communications.

In the same way as personnel treat a telephone conversation, if a decision is made, action taken, or the reason for a decision or action is discussed via an electronic conversation, the personnel is responsible for documenting that decision, action or rationale, and ensuring that the information is captured within the department's information repository.

Federal program information posted to Web 2.0 tools and services needs to be captured in departmental information repository as a record of the information on the program that has been distributed to Canadians.

Relevant Policy and Legislative Requirements

When determining departmental practices for the use of external Web 2.0 tools and services, departments are encouraged to seek the advice and participation of persons responsible for official languages and legal services within their organization.

Departments need to ensure that the use of Web 2.0 tools and services complies with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (ss.16-20) and the Official Languages Act, including Part IV of the Official Languages Act and, consequently, the Policy on the Use of Official Languages for Communications with and Services to the Public, the Directive on the Use of Official Languages in Electronic Communications and the Directive on the Use of Official Languages on Web Sites. See the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat website for current versions.

Federal departments must also comply with Part VII of the Official Languages Act in their use of Web 2.0 tools and services. This deals with the advancement of English and French, enhancing the vitality of linguistic minority communities as well as fostering the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

Use of Official Languages and Web 2.0

For online communications, one of the vehicles for official dissemination of a department's information is its website. The application of Web 2.0 tools and services should be consistent with the Government of Canada's approach to Web sites. The department's terms of use for social media should be posted on their website to which users are referred through a link or web address.

Recommended Practices

Whether provided by Government of Canada or third-party Web 2.0 tools and services, departments must ensure that all profile content through all forms of communication originating from federal departments is made available simultaneously in both official languages and is of equal quality. This includes terms of reference, rules of engagement, and departmental positions and disclaimers. When the Web 2.0 tool or service is being provided by the Government of Canada, management and editing tools, help sections, pop-up messages, site navigation, as well as user interfaces (separate interfaces for each official language of equal quality) must be available in both official languages and be of equal quality. When using a third-party Web 2.0 tool or service, departments should strive to meet these obligations and assess whether the platform should in fact be used.

Users should be advised that by participating in Web 2.0 activities, they are consenting to the possibility that their comments could be summarized and translated by departments.

Where third-party Web 2.0 tools and services (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) are used, the department should reference through profile information, the rules of engagement located on the department's website, including the official languages component.

Departments, as well as personnel communicating on behalf of their department when using Web 2.0 tools and services, must respect the concept of active offer of services by ensuring that the user knows communication is available in both official languages and can access the equivalent services in the other official language.

In all Web 2.0 initiatives aimed at the public, departments must:

  1. Encourage users to contribute in the official language of their choice;
  2. Use Web 2.0 tools and services that are conducive to the use of both official languages.

When considering using Web 2.0 tools and services being developed by the Government of Canada and/or hosted on Government of Canada networks, departments need to evaluate the extent to which these tools and services allow the department to comply with its official languages obligations. If these tools and services are not offered in both official languages, federal departments should opt for ones that allow them to comply with their obligations and that allow users to switch from one language to the other.

A department that posts information using Web 2.0 tools and services on the site of an entity or third party not subject to the Official Languages Act must ensure that:

  1. Information originating from the department is in both official languages;
  2. A notice precedes the information to indicate clearly that the information originates from that department.

Departments that re-disseminate third-party information should look for sources that release information in both official languages.

In order to foster the full use of English and French in Canadian society and to meet its obligations in relation to communications to the public, departments should carefully monitor both official language versions of the application used. When it appears that the department is receiving more public questions/comments in one language that require a general and public response, it should ensure that it provides the same information to the public in both official languages. Responses should be formulated in a way that allows all users to understand the nature of the initial query and are available in both official languages simultaneously. This can be done by summaries of discussions/questions that have taken place on both accounts or by referring the public to the information on its website. The summary should include discussions that have taken place on both language accounts and the sum total of the discussions posted in both languages.

Practical Tips for Complying with Official Languages Requirements:

  • For most Web 2.0 tools and services, a single-language version (two accounts) is the recommended best practice. Departments should take measures to ensure, as much as possible, that users of both accounts have an equally profitable experience.
  • All content (text, audio, video, etc.) should be posted simultaneously in both official languages through the respective departmental accounts.
  • The equivalent account in the other official language should be clearly referenced with the appropriate link.
  • Departments actively engaging in providing responses through Web 2.0 tools and services should do so in the language in which contact was initiated, unless it is a question of general public interest that requires a response in both official languages. If information is referenced pertaining to the department, it should direct users to their website where content is available in both official languages.
  • Departments should carefully monitor both official language accounts of the Web 2.0 tool or service being used. When it appears that the department is receiving more public questions/comments in one language that require a general and public response, it should ensure that it provides the same information to the public in both official languages. Responses should be formulated in a way that allows all users to understand the nature of the initial query and are available in both official languages simultaneously. Departments should consider providing regular summaries of comments/questions which are posted in both official languages simultaneously.
  • As a way of promoting linguistic duality, departments that re-disseminate third-party information should look for sources which release information in both official languages.
  • The re-dissemination of unilingual third-party information items should not be a frequent and predominant method of disseminating information. If third-party information is circulated, the department informs the public through the rules of engagement located on its website that the information was obtained from an external source and that is not subject to the Official Languages Act.
  • For collaborative technologies such as Wikis, the following practices should be followed:
    • Departments should make content pages available in both official languages, and provide links between the English-language and French-language pages;
    • When users are asked to edit pages they can do so in their preferred official language;
    • Once the content is finalized and approved, it is posted in both official languages or a link to the final document where there are English and French versions is provided. Both versions are posted simultaneously and are of equal quality. The appropriate links are established between the English and French versions;
    • In the case where the content does not reach a final version but continues to change as new events take place, the department determines at which point a significant version is attained. Significant versions are made available simultaneously in both official languages. A significant version represents an important step in the development of the content, one which allows the discussion or consultation to move on to a new phase in its progression. If the steps are not clearly defined, the project leader determines when a significant version is attained;
    • Departments decide whether it is best to have one bilingual discussion page or two separate pages, one for each official language. Departments base this decision on consideration of different factors such as their objective, the intended public audience, relevance and the extent to which this Web 2.0 tool or service allows departments to fulfill their official languages obligations in conducting their particular consultation; and
    • Departments should provide links between the English-language and French-language discussion pages when two discussions are being held concurrently.
  • For media/file sharing tools and services, the following practices should be followed:
    • In the production of video and audio, content should be made available in both official languages. The English-language and French-language versions should be equivalent in content and be of equal quality using identical formats.
    • In cases where the media file is in one language only, departments should provide voice-over or subtitles or transcriptions for the version in the other language.
    • Bilingual video that is posted on both sites should contain voice-over, where applicable, sub-titles or transcriptions in the other official language. Departments should plan videos to ensure that they are not creating a situation where one language is always a language of translation.
  • For instant messaging/chat sessions, departments should determine whether it is best to hold a bilingual session or two separate sessions in each official language. If one bilingual session is held, the session organizers should actively encourage participants to use the language of their choice. Responses from the department should be formulated in a way that allows all users to understand the nature of the initial query and should be available in both official languages simultaneously.

Translation Software

The use of translation software or automated translations offered on web sites is not recommended for use in an official communications context given their current limitations and given the Translation Bureau's advice against their use. Departments are responsible for the content of the information they provide, even when the information is housed on third-party platforms, and would therefore also be responsible for the quality of translations generated by automated software.

Part 7 of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) governs the political activities of employees subject to its provisions, recognizing the need to balance the rights of employees to engage in political activities with the principle of a non-partisan and politically impartial public service. The PSEA also defines "political activity"; using Web 2.0 tools or services to express personal views in support of, or in opposition to, a political party or candidate is one example of a political activity. Employees must assess their own circumstances and make reasonable decisions about their involvement in political activities and determine whether a given activity would impair or could be perceived by others as impairing their ability to perform their duties in a non-partisan and politically impartial manner. They are encouraged to discuss their specific circumstances with their manager or with their organization's Designated Political Activities Representative.

It is important to know that anyone may put forward an allegation of improper political activity against employees subject to Part 7 of the PSEA. The Public Service Commission (PSC) may investigate these allegations and if it concludes, following an investigation, that an allegation is substantiated, it may take any corrective action it considers appropriate, up to and including dismissal.

It should be noted that activities that do not fit the above-mentioned definition may be subject to the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service or, in cases where Treasury Board is not the employer, to the organization's applicable values and ethics code.

Any questions on Part 7 of the PSEA should be referred to the PSC or additional information found on its website.

Before a government department initiates the use of an externally facing Web 2.0 tool or service, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) strongly advises government officials to consult with their department's Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office, Legal Services and security experts to ensure that all privacy risks are identified and addressed. ATIP officials can help to determine if it is necessary to notify the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and if a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) should be undertaken.

Personal information is information about an identifiable individual and includes names and occupations or contact information. If any personal information is collected, used and disclosed through government use of Web 2.0 tools and services, departments should be aware that such collection, use and disclosure is subject to the Privacy Act and may, in certain circumstances, engage section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. Under the Privacy Act, the Privacy Commissioner has the authority to receive and investigate privacy complaints against departments and can conduct audits of personal information practices, including those involving Web 2.0 tools or services, at government departments.

Requirements of the Privacy Act concerning the Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information

Section 4 of the Privacy Act states that "no personal information shall be collected by a government institution unless it relates directly to an operating program or activity of the institution." This has been interpreted to mean that a department must have parliamentary authority in an Act or Regulation, or authority provided by an Order in Council, for the collection of personal information related to the program or activity that will be administered through the Web 2.0 tool or service. The authority for collection is a requirement of the Privacy Act whether the Web 2.0 tool or service is hosted by the department or by a third party.

Departments should use and disclose personal information posted through a Web 2.0 tool or service only for the purposes for which it was collected unless an individual posts inappropriate comments or where the department suspects that a law has or will be been broken. In such a case, the personal information disclosed would have to be retained in accordance with section 6 of the Privacy Act. Unsolicited information will be deleted, except where action is required to protect a public or private interest (e.g. someone reports a crime or threat to security).

Privacy Impact Assessment Requirements

Under the TBS Directive on Privacy Impact Assessment, departments are required to conduct a PIA for any new or substantially modified program or service that collects and uses personal information, including those involving Web 2.0 tools and services. A PIA will help to ensure that the Web 2.0 initiative complies with the Privacy Act and that measures are implemented to mitigate any potential privacy risks.

A PIA may be required even when the Web 2.0 initiative involves a minimal collection of personal information (e.g., names and passwords to authenticate individuals to give them access to a wiki or blog).

Furthermore, the PIA requirement may apply whether a Web 2.0 tool or service is hosted by the department or a third party. A PIA will help identify the intended uses and disclosures of personal information that should be described in a Privacy Notice.

Under the Directive on Privacy Impact Assessment, departments must provide a copy of the completed PIA to TBS and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. For more information about PIA requirements, refer to the Directive on Privacy Impact Assessment.

Privacy Protocol

The Policy on Privacy Protection requires that departments establish a privacy protocol which may be used in place of a PIA in instances where a department collects and uses personal information for non-administrative purposes only, i.e., where no decisions will be made that affect the individuals. For example, surveys may be conducted on an external Web 2.0 tool or service, where no follow-up will take place with the individuals and no decisions will be made by the department that directly affect the individuals.

Privacy Notice

Once the department confirms that it has the authority to collect or use personal information for the purposes of the Web 2.0 initiative, and has addressed or mitigated any privacy risks, it must then post an appropriate Privacy Notice to inform users of their rights under the Privacy Act.

The requirement is based on subsection 5(2) of the Privacy Act, which specifies that a government department must inform any individual from whom the department collects personal information about the purpose for which the information is being collected.

The Directive on Privacy Practices requires that a Privacy Notice be provided to individuals. A sample Privacy Notice is available on GCpedia for Government of Canada personnel to consult.

Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Requests

The Access to Information Act gives rights of access to records and the Privacy Act give rights of access to information under the control of a government department. Any request to a government department that is made under either Act for access to information posted on a Web 2.0 tool or service must be addressed by the department. For further guidance, government officials are directed to consult with their department's ATIP Office.

Web 2.0 Tools or Services Hosted or Owned by Third Parties

Departments may choose to use third-party Web 2.0 tools or services to communicate on behalf of the department. In such cases, the department should establish specific terms and conditions with the provider to ensure the protection of personal or other sensitive information. It is strongly recommended that, before negotiating any such contractual arrangement, the department should consult its ATIP, Legal Services and security experts. Whenever possible, departments should use custom terms of service that have been negotiated by PWGSC for some third-party Web 2.0 tools and services. For more information on how to do so, please refer to the "Social media procurement process" page on GCpedia.

Departments should consider the ATIP implications of using sites that are hosted or owned by third parties, particularly if such sites are based in foreign countries or accessible by companies located in foreign countries. It may be necessary to conduct a PIA or Threat Risk Assessment to ensure privacy risks are identified and mitigated. When information is stored or accessible outside of Canada, it can be subject not only to Canadian laws, but also to the laws of the hosting country. For more information, refer to the TBS guidance document Taking Privacy into Account Before Making Contracting Decisions.

If the acquisition of a Web 2.0 tool or service has costs associated with it, consult your departmental procurement and contracting experts for guidance. These costs include either the upfront procurement cost or the requirement for non-competitive maintenance and operations of the platform. The principles underlying the procurement framework are openness, fairness and transparency for suppliers and effectiveness and efficiency in meeting government needs. Full costs of the Web 2.0 tools and services need to be assessed up front to ensure that the appropriate acquisition steps are followed.

Departments must determine if they will accept the terms of service for the Web 2.0 tool or service being considered for use. In making this determination, departments are encouraged to seek the advice and participation of persons responsible for procurement and legal services. For information on accessing custom terms of service that have been negotiated by PWGSC for some no-cost Web 2.0 tools and services, please refer to the "Social media procurement process" page on GCpedia.

Responsibilities of Government Organizations

This section identifies the responsibilities of government organizations regarding procurement as set out in various Acts of Parliament, regulations and policies. This section does not confer any authority or responsibility on any organization.

Treasury Board Secretariat

The Secretariat supports the Treasury Board in its role as the government's management board. The Secretariat is responsible for maintaining an ongoing relationship with departments to address management issues and to ensure compliance with the Contracting Policy and related policy instruments through management reviews, evaluations, Auditor General audits, internal audits and transactions. The Secretariat also develops federal government administrative policies for procurement and for a broad range of areas that have an impact on procurement, such as financial management, materiel management, communications, delegation of authority, project management and investment planning. In addition, the Secretariat manages a certification program for federal procurement and materiel management personnel.

Public Works and Government Services Canada

The mandate of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services includes planning and organizing the provision of materiel and related services to departments and the acquisition of goods, services and construction services for departments. The Department of Public Works and Government Services Act states that the Minister shall investigate and develop services for increasing the efficiency and economy of the federal public administration and for enhancing integrity and efficiency in the contracting process.

Section 9 of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act gives the Minister of Public Works and Government Services exclusive responsibility for the procurement of all goods as described in the Act. Other departments may procure goods only when their own legislation specifically permits or when an appropriate delegation of authority has been made by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Risk

As a general principle, risks should be borne by the party best placed to manage them, that is, departments should generally not accept risks that another party is better placed to manage. In accordance with the Policy on Decision Making in Limiting Contractor Liability in Crown Procurement Contracts, procurement specialists should strive to achieve a balance among the protection required by the Crown when entering into Crown procurement contracts, marketplace conditions, and conditions important for assuring program and service delivery results. Note that there must be an individual risk assessment for each of the Government of Canada's Web 2.0 initiatives that have a cost associated with the use of the respective tool or service. Conducting a risk assessment remains a good practice in the case of using no cost Web 2.0 tools and services.

Documentation

Documentation is critical to accountability and transparency. It provides a record of procurement activities and how they have been conducted, and it facilitates management oversight and scrutiny of these activities.

Government Contracts Regulations

The Government Contracts Regulations (GCRs) were approved pursuant to subsection 41(1) of the Financial Administration Act. It is not always possible, practical or cost-effective to seek bids for every proposed contract. Section 6 of the GCRs permits certain exceptions that provide contracting authorities with the flexibility to negotiate a contract with a particular supplier on a non-competitive (sole-source) basis. Section 6 of the GCRs addresses the more compelling cases where exceptions to competition are warranted, as in the case of Web 2.0 tools and services when the estimated expenditure does not exceed $25,000.

Control of Assets

The Policy Framework for the Management of Assets and Acquired Services states that the following:

Deputy Heads are accountable to their respective Ministers and to Treasury Board for the management of assets and acquired services in departments. They are responsible for implementing an effective management framework, including departmental procedures, processes and systems, that demonstrates how the department is managing based on the principles identified above. The framework must demonstrate how the management of assets and acquired services is effectively integrated with program, expenditure, financial and human resources related considerations to promote value for money.

Related Policies, Regulations and Directives

A number of the requirements of the Operational Security Standard: Management of Information Technology Security (MITS) pertain to the use of external Web 2.0 tools and services. Departments that choose to make use of externally facing Web 2.0 tools and services for conducting official Government of Canada business should undertake the following actions:

  • Assess and document the sensitivity of information that will be transmitted, stored and processed using Web 2.0 tools and services (in accordance with MITS, section 12.2);
  • Ensure that any unique risks to information, Information Technology (IT) assets and service delivery associated with the use of Web 2.0 tools and services are assessed, documented and understood, and that residual risks are accepted by program or service delivery managers (in accordance with MITS, section 12.3);
  • Formally document roles and responsibilities of personnel who will engage in the use of Web 2.0 tools and services;
  • If the Web 2.0 tool or service is hosted by the department, ensure that it is located in an appropriate network zone, that it is regularly monitored for vulnerabilities and configuration weaknesses, and that an appropriate patch management schedule is maintained;
  • Ensure that appropriate authentication and integrity controls are in place for Web 2.0 tools and services to prevent impersonation of Government of Canada entities;
  • Ensure that, where applicable and appropriate, information-sharing agreements are established and respected;
  • Ensure that, where applicable, incident management procedures have provisions to address incidents relating to, or resulting from, the use of Web 2.0 tools and services; and
  • Ensure that personnel who will be using Web 2.0 tools and services are provided with appropriate IT security and information classification training (in accordance with MITS, section 12.12).

Departments should also consult SPIN 2010-01: Security Considerations when Allowing Connections to Public Social Networking Sites, which states that: "From an IT Security stand point, connections to social networking sites are not substantially different than other connections to the Internet and will not normally require a new Threat and Risk assessment by each department".

For further information, departments should contact their departmental security officials, CSEC client service representative or visit CSEC's website.

A public servant's public activity is subject to the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service. Web 2.0 activity is considered public activity and as such is subject to the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service. The following excerpts from the Code help to illustrate how public service values can be applied to the use of Web 2.0 tools and services:

Democratic Values

Public servants shall loyally implement ministerial decisions, lawfully taken.

In Canada's system of parliamentary democracy, public servants owe a duty of loyalty to their employer, the Government of Canada. This includes refraining from any activity that could compromise the efforts of Government organizations to deliver on their mandate.

An employee's public commentary (including online activity on blogs and other social media platforms) about an organization, including its minister, is subject to scrutiny under the duty of loyalty requirement.

Only those employees specifically designated as spokespersons are to publicly comment on government operations.

Professional Values

Public servants must work within the laws of Canada and maintain the tradition of the political neutrality of the Public Service. Public servants should also strive to ensure that the value of transparency in government is upheld while respecting their duties of confidentiality under the law.

The Public Service Employment Act states that a public servant can engage in any political activity as long as it does not impair or is not perceived by others as impairing his/her ability to perform his/her duties in a politically impartial manner.

Promoting political ideas online may appear to compromise an employee's ability to maintain impartiality. Before engaging in online political activity, an employee should subject him/herself to the Political Activity Self-Assessment Tool, provided by the Public Service Commission to assess his/her particular circumstances for risk.

Ethical Values

Public servants may take part in outside activities unless the activities are likely to give rise to a conflict of interest or in any way undermine the neutrality of the Public Service. The Deputy Head may require that the outside activities be curtailed, modified or terminated if it is determined that real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists.

Avoiding and preventing situations that could give rise to a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest, is one of the primary means by which a public servant maintains public confidence in the impartiality and objectivity of the Public Service. Employees should review their online presence and associations regularly and report any potential areas of concern with their manager.

People Values

People values should reinforce the wider range of Public Service values. Public servants should demonstrate respect, fairness and courtesy in their dealings with both citizens and fellow public servants.

Making a comment about a colleague or client online may be subject to scrutiny, just as making that same comment in the workplace would be. Employees should familiarize themselves with the Policy on the Prevention of Harassment in the Workplace and act towards other individuals professionally and respectfully.

For further information concerning the interpretation or application of the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service, employees should talk to their supervisor or contact the senior official for values and ethics in their organization.

Date Modified: