Sunday, June 17, 2007

Canada's No-Fly list could be linked to biometrics

Canada new “no-fly” list, to be known as “Passenger Protect”, takes effect on June 18th and according to an Ottawa Citizen report, the federal transport minister isn’t ruling out linking the names to biometric data in the long term. The Canadian no-fly list will have hundreds of names, rather than the tens of thousands on the U.S. list. Names will be added to the list based on information supplied by CSIS and the RCMP.

In an earlier post, I wrote about the risks associated with biometrics and DNA-enabled travel documents, data security and the potential impact on individual privacy. The first steps toward collecting biometric data are already underway in both the U.S. and Canada:

The United States already scans the fingerprints of foreign visitors entering the country and stores the information in a database. Visitors from Canada and some countries are excluded from the program.

Meanwhile, Transport Canada has bulked up security at airports by issuing biometric ID cards to staff who work in "restricted areas."

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart has spoken out against the no-fly list, along with other privacy advocates such as Pippa Lawson, director of CIPPIC. Citizens could be the subject of mistaken identity and personal information collected by governments could make citizens vulnerable when traveling abroad or if their information is stolen or abused. The potential for abuse was highlighted at the Air India inquiry, where a Transport Minister acknowledged that the no-fly list could be shared with foreign governments.

While airlines could be fined up to $25,000 if they disclose personal information about individuals on the list, there appear to be little safeguards provided to prevent foreign governments from using or abusing this information. Passengers who feel they have been mistakenly placed on the no-fly list can appeal to the Office of Reconsideration, but are not allowed to know why their name was originally placed on the list.

Canadians are entitled to strong and rigorous guarantees from their federal government about the uses and limits of the collection and dissemination of personal information. The implications of misuse and abuse are far too serious for anything less.


Evan said...

Yes, and as is not widely reported, the US collects info on Canadian citizens in exchange for same by Canadian authorities of US citizens.

This has been a practice long standing prior to 9-11.

Ir circumvents the laws for either country to collect information on its own citizens.

Digital Nomad said...

Ministry of Reconsideration...kind of reminds me of Monty Python's Ministry of Funny Walks.