Stop Canada From Recording Public Conversations in Airports

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Target: Jennifer Stoddart, Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Goal: Stop the impending use of invasive surveillance equipment in airports and border crossings.

Audio/video monitoring technology is currently installed in Canadian airports and border crossings. Installation is complete in many airports already, and video surveillance is taking place. Security cameras have become commonplace, but audio recording is a frightening step, which has many people worried. According to Chris Kealey, spokesman of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), audio recording equipment is already in place, but it is not yet being used.

A federal initiative aiding the CBSA in investigating organized crime and smuggling, which sometimes takes place in large airports, may be the motivation behind the audio surveillance. However, audio recording devices will not be limited to customs-controlled areas in which border service officers have expanded powers to question and search travelers and airport employees. They will be operational throughout the airport, recording everyone’s conversations. This is a clear invasion of privacy for everyone involved. The CBSA union also worries that employee conversations may be included in their official records. The union was not told about the audio surveillance, but rather found out via reporter inquiries.

The Canadian Treasury Board requires a privacy impact assessment prior to the implementation of any new or modified program regarding personal information. This assessment is submitted for review to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. The office is in the process of reviewing a privacy assessment for audio surveillance in customs controlled areas, but has not yet received an assessment for audio surveillance elsewhere in airports and border crossings, despite the fact that most are already installed, if not yet functioning. These bureaucratic mechanisms Canada has in place for protecting privacy mean nothing if the CBSA does not follow protocol.

Audio surveillance will collect conversations as evidence, which could be used for any purpose. There will be signs posted giving people notice that their conversations may be recorded, but notice of an invasion of privacy does not make the invasion okay. Sign the below petition to urge Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart to prevent the implementation of audio surveillance in Canadian airports and border crossings.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Commissioner Stoddart,

The Canadian Border Services Agency has installed audio surveillance equipment in airports and border crossings, assuring the public that as of yet, it remains nonfunctional. The intent is to aid the CBSA in investigating organized crime and smuggling that takes place in airports, but captured conversations will inevitably exceed this scope.

The CBSA’s union was not informed, and worries that employee conversations may influence their official employee records. Beyond that, the privacy of ordinary travelers, both Canadian and foreign, will be invaded.

The visual notices informing travelers that their conversations will be recorded will not ameliorate the violation of privacy. I understand that the goals the CBSA has in mind with this technology are important, but they do not outweigh privacy. Please do all in your power to prevent the CBSA from recording conversations in airports and border crossings with audio surveillance equipment.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Sign the Petition

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39 Signatures

  • Hermann Kastner
  • Eric von Borstel
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • Holly Hall
  • Jutta Taraniuk
  • Melanie waleski
  • Ricki Newman
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  • Kara Graul
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