GPS Block III Satellite

This month Canada’s Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence has recommended that the nation’s satellites be declared critical infrastructure.

In a report on military funding dated April 2017 the committee said:

“In this connection, space assets fall outside what is currently considered national critical infrastructure. Not only is space an operational domain of increasing importance to the Canadian Armed Forces, space assets such as the Global Positioning System and Anik-series telecommunications satellites are critical to the security, safety and economic well-being of this nation as a whole.”

It recommended that the Government of Canada:

  • Designate satellites and radar installations as critical infrastructure; and
  • Seek ways to secure the full spectrum of all critical infrastructure assets against significant threats, including electromagnetic pulses, by 2020 in partnership with the United States and other countries.

That GPS is critical infrastructure is a sentiment that the US Space-based Positioning Navigation and Timing Advisory Board has regularly expressed.

In a 2009 report it referred to GPS as global critical infrastructure. In 2010 it specifically recommended that GPS be formally designated national critical infrastructure – a recommendation that was repeated in its next public report in 2014.

Yet the issue has made no headway in the United States.

The US Department of Homeland Security has called GPS a “enabler” for critical infrastructure. While the department is required to take specific actions to protect critical infrastructure sectors, it has no requirement to protect “enablers.”

Another example of how we talk about things can really matter.

Our vote is with Canada’s Senate committee.  If it is critically important, say so, and then figure out what you are going to do about it.

Or to put it another way, “The first step is to admit you have a problem.”