US, Canada announce cross-border action plan

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Public Safety Canada and the US Department of Homeland Security launched an action plan last month to back up a February 2011 border security partnership.

The two agencies outlined three goals in the action plan: enhanced cyber incident management collaboration between national cyber security operations centers, joint engagement and information sharing with the private sector, and continued cooperation on ongoing cyber security public awareness efforts.

The agencies outlined several specific actions under these broad goals. These include sharing technical information in industrial control systems and enhancing real-time collaboration between analysts.

The two agencies will work together on briefing private sector organizations on cyber threats and standardize protocols for sharing information, they said. They will also work on public awareness campaigns together.

The action plan was introduced by the Beyond Borders Working Group. Since its announcement, the Beyond the Border program has been shrouded in secrecy. Its provisions included multiple information-sharing clauses, including common technical standards for sharing biometric data. 

The Beyond the Border initiative has been criticized by privacy advocates who worry that Canadians' personal data could be misused by multiple governmental agencies in the United States. Information on Canadian citizens is already being given to the U.S. government under the Secure Flight initiative, a program of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which calls for personal information to be shared of anyone traveling over U.S. airspace.

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