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Secure electronic transactions are often established through the use of cryptographic technologies. Cryptographic technologies can provide for the integrity and confidentiality of electronic messages that are exchanged across various networks, and to help ensure that neither party to the transaction can deny its participation in the exchange of information.


The benefits of cryptography for electronic commerce, privacy protection and crime prevention are clear. However, it is equally true that cryptographic technologies can be used to hide criminal activity and to threaten national security. For this reason, the Government of Canada is committed to striking the right balance between ensuring that Canadians are able to deploy cryptographic technologies and ensuring that law enforcement and the public security community has lawful access to evidence of illegal activity.

Canada does not restrict the freedom of choice of individuals or businesses to import or use cryptography. Users are free to determine what kinds of authentication and encryption products and services they need. Canada controls the export of cryptography along with 40 other nations that are members of the Wassenaar Arrangement, which stipulates which products require export permits and which do not.

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability, by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, including cryptographic software. In co-operation with Industry Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade works with a number of departments and agencies, including the Communications Security Establishment, to complete Canada's responsibilities at Wassenaar. These efforts have enabled Canada to control the export of goods designed or modified to use encryption generally in accordance with the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Canadian Cryptography Policy

The Canadian cryptography policy aims to support Canada's objective to be a leader in the use of electronic commerce, and to ensure that it reflects an appropriate balance among business, human rights and privacy interests, public safety and law enforcement, and national security interests.

A more comprehensive discussion of the Canadian cryptography policy is articulated in A Cryptography Policy Framework for Electronic Commerce.

Documents Related to Cryptography