Guideline on Acceptable Network and Device Use

Date modified: 2016-05-30

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acceptable use — permitted use of Government of Canada electronic networks and devices by authorized individuals
  • To perform activities as a part of their official duties;
  • For career development and other professional activities; and
  • For limited personal use that is conducted on personal time; that is not for financial gain; that does not incur any additional costs for the department; and that does not interfere with the conduct of business.

All use of Government of Canada electronic networks and devices must be in compliance with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and all other related Treasury Board policies and departmental codes of conduct and policies. Use of Government of Canada electronic networks and devices must not give rise to a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest or in any way undermine the integrity of the department. (Also see Appendix B)


Gaining entry to an electronic network that the federal government has provided to Government of Canada authorized individuals. Access to such electronic networks may be from inside or outside government premises. Access may support telework and remote access situations, or situations where authorized individuals are using electronic networks provided by the federal government on their own time for limited personal use.

authorized individuals

Individuals working with the Government of Canada, including employees of the federal government as well as casuals, contractors, students and other persons who have been authorized by the deputy head to access Government of Canada electronic networks and devices.

electronic network

Groups of computers and computer systems that can communicate with each other, including without limitation, the Internet, Government of Canada electronic data networks, voice and video network infrastructure, and public and private networks external to a department. The network includes both wired and wireless components.

external networks

Networks reached from the Government of Canada network, to which authorized individuals are granted access. They include permissible sites across the public Internet and via the World Wide Web, including services provided by parties such as collaborative software.


A global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve users worldwide.

learning opportunities

Diverse learning methods or tools, formal or informal, to generate awareness or acquire knowledge about the acceptable use of Government of Canada electronic networks and devices and Government of Canada and external Web 2.0 tools and services. These approaches can include, but are not limited to, information or orientation sessions, YouTube video, information provided on departmental intranet sites, manager debriefs, account sign-on notifications and electronic newsletters.

monitoring practices

Use of a software system that monitors an electronic network for slow or failing components, and notifies the network administrator in cases of outages, and that can monitor the network activity of specific individuals for which there is suspicion of unacceptable network usage. Recording and analysis of the use of electronic networks are used for operational purposes and for assessing compliance with government policy.

open access

Refers to the provision of Internet access, in accordance with the Policy on Government Security, to authorized individuals via Government of Canada electronic networks and devices that, from the perspective of firewall settings, is substantively equivalent irrespective of department or access medium. Internet sites that enhance productivity, communication and collaboration are not blocked with the exception of those that present a legitimate IT security threat and where content substantively falls into the category of unacceptable use.

unacceptable use

Any activity that violates Treasury Board or departmental policy instruments or other published requirements, including, but not limited to, activity or behavior that:

  • May give rise to criminal offences;
  • Violates federal and provincial statutes;
  • Impacts negatively on the performance of Government of Canada electronic networks and devices;
  • Impedes departmental operations or the delivery of services;
  • Breaches the Duty of Loyalty requirement for public servants (i.e., does not refrain from public criticism of the Government of Canada); and
  • Could be deemed to reasonably result in civil lawsuits. (Also see Appendix C)
user devices

Physical devices found or brought into the work environment that are used by authorized individuals to access Government of Canada electronic networks and databases. The physical devices can include, but are not limited to, the following: desktop workstations, laptops, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, cellphones, peripherals such as printers and scanners, memory devices such as USB flash drives, CD drives and DVD drives, webcams and any other computer hardware used to obtain, store or send information.

Web 2.0

Includes Internet-based tools and services that allow for participatory multi-way information sharing, dialogue, syndication, and user-generated content. This can include social media and collaborative technologies.

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