Suspend no-fly list, say privacy watchdogs

Posted by admin on Jun 28th, 2007

Toronto Star, 28 June 2007
Allan Woods

OTTAWA – Canada’s privacy commissioners are urging the government to suspend its controversial no-fly list and make major changes to ensure the protection of sensitive personal information. At a meeting of federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners, the group warned that the list could impinge upon individuals’ freedom of association and movement, and that Transport Canada has given no assurances that the names and details on the list will not be shared with foreign governments.

“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,” the watchdogs said in a statement. “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.”

A resolution adopted at a meeting in Fredericton says that the list, launched June 18, was created and is essentially being run in the dark, without any clear legislative framework and with no clear rules about how an individual can end up on the list.

The resolution describes the collection, use and disclosure of personal information as “excessive” and “sensitive.”

In the absence of the program’s suspension, the privacy commissioners call for a parliamentary review of the program, regular reports to Parliament, the creation of an oversight body that is independent of the government.

Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon has tried to ease concerns about the no-fly list, saying that the “vast majority” of Canadians will not notice any difference when travelling through Canadian airports. Studies released before the program was launched said “hundreds of individuals representing a serious threat to Canada’s security” would be affected.

“I can assure passengers that they’ll be okay. The people who are going to be on this list are convicted terrorists, people who have made threats against both airlines and aircraft, and people who have threatened air safety,” Cannon told the Star earlier this month.

Known as Passenger Protect, the list applies to anyone over the age of 12 boarding international and domestic flights. If a passenger’s name matches one of the names stored in the database, they will be required to produce identification proving they are not the person who has been identified as a threat.

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