Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Watchdog: Canada-US security agreement threatens privacy

If you want to experience roads further away than just south of the border in the comfort of your own automobile, as you might expect there’s quite a bit to consider, but it may just be easier than you think.

MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS

The perimeter security deal puts the personal information of Canadian s at risk because in some cases it allows the United States to pass that data to other countries without permission, says the federal privacy watchdog.

A newly published agreement on how information will be handled under the Canada-U.S. security pact means personal details about Canadians could be sent to a country with a poor human rights record, said Chantal Bernier, assistant privacy commissioner.

The principle on sharing information — included in a 12-point Canada-U.S. privacy charter made public Thursday — falls short of the standard recommended by the federal commission of inquiry that examined the Maher Arar torture case, Bernier said. "We were hoping for greater control for Canada on the personal information it holds."

Story continues below advertisement

Bernier said the principles contain some fundamental building blocks of good privacy practice, but expressed concern that the principles are non-binding.

The deal was reached last year to help smooth the passage of travellers and cargo across the border while beefing up continental security.

Its most contentious element could be a plan to exchange entry information collected from all persons at the border.

The principles say Canada or the United States may transfer information received from the other to a third country in accordance with international agreements and arrangements.

In the absence of such "international agreements and arrangements," the U.S. must inform Canada prior to the transfer, or "as soon as reasonably possible" afterward in urgent circumstances in such cases.

Report an error Licensing Options
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨