Canada’s official privacy watchdogs have formed a united front to call for suspension of the Canadian government’s new no-fly list until it can be overhauled to ensure strong privacy protections for Canadians.
FIPA is urging all concerned citizens to join in by emailing the Prime Minister (See last paragraph).
The federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners issued a joint resolution on Thursday June 28 outlining reforms urgently required for Passenger Protect, the new program designed to keep security threats off airplanes.
The resolution is available on the website of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
The Commissioners released the following statement in a joint news release
“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.
“We are particularly troubled that Canadians will not have legally enforceable rights of appeal, to independent adjudication or to compensation for out-of-pocket expenses or other damages. Commissioners and ombudsmen are unanimously of the view that the use of such lists in the interests of airline security should only occur in a manner consistent with Canadian values in the area of privacy protection.
“It is alarming that Transport Canada will not assure Canadians that the names of people on it 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.
“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. There have been many cases with the U.S. no-fly list where false positives have meant that even children and well-known public figures such as Senator Edward Kennedy have been questioned or denied boarding.
Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon has said that the names of as many as 2,000 people who have secretly been declared security threats by government officials have been placed on the list. They will be denied boarding passes if they try to get on an airplane in Canada.
“Being placed on the list has serious repercussions for people. This is particularly worrisome since Canada’s federal public-sector Privacy Act is in critical need of reform and offers no adequate protection or remedies to address the privacy risks that inappropriate use of the no-fly list creates.
“Until the government substantially overhauls Passenger Protect in order to address significant risks of the no-fly list to the privacy and other rights of Canadians, the program should be suspended. Alternatively, Parliament should ensure that the program functions under strict ministerial scrutiny with regular public reports to Parliament until a comprehensive public parliamentary review is completed and reforms are made.”
FIPA encourages concerned citizens to email Prime Minister Stephen Harper at email@example.com, telling him that they suppoort the federal, provincial, and territorial privacy commissioners, that the No-Fly list should be suspended, and that a parliamentary committee should hold public hearings on this matter.