Canada, U.S. to share more passenger information
Published Friday, March 11, 2016 10:36PM EST
Border security was a major topic of discussion between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama during Trudeau’s official visit, with new details emerging Friday about action points for both countries moving forward.
The two leaders agreed to strengthen their border security agreements and to share more information.
New "exit controls," for example, will mean that at land crossings, officials will share details about who is coming and going -- in either direction.
And at airports, federal officials will now start collecting the names of passengers leaving the country.
The airlines are already keeping detailed personal data on passengers flying into or over U.S. airspace, including:
- Home addresses and telephone numbers
- Emergency contacts
- Frequent flyer numbers
- Meal preferences
The government promises Canada will not collect and share these more detailed records under the new exit tracking system, which will capture so-called "tombstone" information such as passenger names and dates of birth.
The goal is to increase security and to communicate more robustly about those leaving and entering each country. But not everyone is happy with the new measures.
"When you collect a huge amount of information about an individual it can result in profiling," said Sukanya Pillay, executive director and general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
The government has promised to consult the privacy commission on the new rules before they take effect, and promises the changes will enhance security and ease bottlenecks at border crossings.
"It just makes the border a lot more efficient. It will make the border a lot more secure," said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
But the opposition wants close tracking of how the shared information is used -- and any potential fallout from the new processes.
"We need to ask ourselves what will this information be used for and what will the consequences be of providing it," said NDP finance critic Guy Caron.
The government also plans to fix current problems with the existing no-fly list which have caused major headaches and delays for travellers with the same names as suspects. In one case, a child named Sayed Ahmed was delayed and hassled at an airport while on his way to a hockey game -- the kind of problem the government hopes to eliminate.
However, none of the proposed changes are a done deal. The government still has to bring the legislation before Parliament for a vote, and is expected to face stiff opposition from privacy advocates concerned about the risks of sharing Canadians' personal information with another country's security infrastructure.
With a report by CTV’s Glen McGregor