Privacy watchdogs want Ottawa to halt no-fly list
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, June 28, 2007 5:33PM EDT
Privacy commissioners from across the country say Ottawa's no-fly list program has serious flaws -- like its inability to distinguish between Canadians who share the same name.
"There are probably tens, maybe dozens of hundreds of Canadians who have the same name. So how do you probe that you are the right one?" federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart told CTV Atlantic.
As of June 18, 2007, the names of passengers at Canadian airports are being cross-checked with the no-fly list, which has been compiled by Transport Canada with the help of CSIS and the RCMP.
It's called the Passenger Protect Program.
The criteria for the list includes a person who is or has been involved in a terrorist group, a person who has been convicted of life-threatening crimes against aviation or a person who has been convicted of one or more serious offences who may attack an air carrier.
"It's not that we want to stand in the way of public safety and security. But to suggest that this methodology is going to advance public safety, that's the mistake," said Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian.
In response to the initiative, the information and privacy commissioners and ombudsmen issued a joint resolution Thursday, outlining reforms that they claim are urgently needed for Passenger Protect.
"The Passenger Protect Program involves the secretive use of personal information in a way that will profoundly impact privacy and other related human rights such as freedom of association and expression and the right to mobility," the group, who are meeting in Fredericton, said in a joint press release.
In the statement, the group called it "alarming" that Transport Canada has not provided assurances that the list will not be shared with other countries.
"We do not want, to see, through the failure to take adequate safeguards, other tragic situations arise where the security of Canadian citizens may be affected or compromised by security forces at home or abroad," said the statement.
"There is a very real risk people will be stopped from flying because they have been incorrectly listed or share the name of someone on the list."
The coalition also cited concerns that Canadians will not have "legally enforceable rights of appeal, to independent adjudication or to compensation for out-of-pocket expenses or other damages" under the program.
The group is calling on the government to suspend the program until all suggested reforms, including better monitoring processes, have been implemented.
Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon told The Globe and Mail last week that there are "roughly between 500 and maybe 2,000" on the list.
When compared to the U.S. no-fly list, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, "ours is much more limited in terms of the criteria," Cannon told the newspaper.
More than 100,000 people are on the U.S. no-fly list, including pre-schoolers, peace activists and -- for a time -- at least two Canadian MPs and U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy.
With a report by CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell