Reality-show exploitation of immigrant raid draws complaint to Privacy Commissioner

Posted by admin on Mar 21st, 2013

Reality-show exploitation of immigrant raid draws complaint to Privacy Commissioner
By: Nicholas Keung Immigration reporter, Published on Thu Mar 21 2013

The decision by federal officials, including Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, to allow an immigration raid to be filmed for a reality TV series has drawn public outrage — and now a formal complaint to the federal Privacy Commissioner. The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association lodged the complaint Thursday against the Canada Border Services Agency, on behalf of Oscar Mata Duran, one of the eight arrested migrant workers, for breaching his privacy rights under Canadian laws.

“Federal agents should not come crashing into people’s workplaces and homes with commercial TV crews filming their actions like some sort of action movie,” Josh Paterson, executive direction of BCCLA, told a Vancouver news conference.

“The federal government must respect the rights of every person it deals with, regardless of their immigration status.”

The TV series Border Security — a show about the day-to-day work of border agents — airs on National Geographic Channel and is produced by Vancouver-based Force Four Entertainment.

According to the complaint, Mata Duran was asked to sign a consent form about an hour after he was interrogated in front of TV cameras last week, allegedly without a full explanation of what he was signing or how the video footage would be used.

The complaint said Mata Duran cannot be considered to have freely given his consent under those circumstances.

It was later revealed that Toews had approved the filming.

“The privacy of individuals is protected at all times; however, it is important to remember that illegal immigrants cost law-abiding Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars each year and thousands of jobs,” Toews told parliamentarians during Question Period this week.

The government’s defence of the action provoked further public outrage.

“It is abhorrent that the federal government has adopted a private company to turn deportation into entertainment,” said Harsha Walia, of No One Is Illegal. “This U.S.-style raid and U.S.-style reality show only serves to promote fear.”

A petition to cancel Border Security, launched on the website, had collected more than 20,000 signatures as of Thursday.

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