The 'Need to Know' is a requirement in the public service to be able to access information that is considered sensitive or classified (if compromised, might cause harm to personal or national interest). The need to know requirement means that just because you have personal security clearance up to a certain level does not entitle you to be able to see all the information at that level. You have to be able to show that you need it to fulfill the duties of your job.
Well, it's BULLSHIT. In today's information age, people expect to get access to government information. How is it that I can file an ATIP request to get access to just about any bit of government information WITHOUT making a case for my 'need to know'? Public servants are on our dime and we're entitled to know what they are doing and what they are not doing. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big advocate for privacy. But personal information can easily be severed to protect privacy and 3rd party confidences. Too many civil servants hide behind this paternalistic 'need to know' and unjustifiably mark their documents 'secret' to keep others out.
I predict that this so-called 'need to know' will die it's rightful death within the next 10 years. I'd like to personally do what I can to make it happen too.