Monday, November 29th, 2010
Dana Gabriel, BeYourOwnLeader
November 29, 2010
Canada is under pressure from U.S. officials to further comply with American security rules which in some cases, threatens its sovereignty and the privacy of its citizens. As a result of the war on terrorism, the U.S. government now has more power to restrict air travel and is not only dictating North American, but also international security measures.
Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act would require Canadian airline carriers that fly over the U.S. to provide the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with passenger information. This includes name, date of birth, gender, as well as passport and itinerary details when applicable. Airlines landing in the U.S. already have to supply this information, but allowing personal data to be shared on passengers who are only flying through American airspace essentially shreds existing Canadian protection and privacy laws. Bill C-42 complies with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Security Flight Program which would take effect globally at the beginning of next year. Most Canadian commercial flights pass over the U.S. while en route to Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe which in many cases would give the DHS the final say on who is allowed to travel to and from Canada.
Under Canada’s Passenger Protect Program, “airlines must compare passenger’s names against a list that is controlled and managed by Transport Canada before a boarding pass is issued.” Secure Flight transfers that authority from airlines to the DHS. TSA will be responsible for pre-screening passengers and their personal information against federal government watch lists. According to the Secure Flight Final Rule document issued in 2008, “If necessary, the TSA analyst will check other classified and unclassified governmental terrorist, law enforcement, and intelligence databases, including databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, National Counter Terrorism Center, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.” With many well documented issues surrounding the accuracy of security watch lists, U.S. mistakes could further prevent more Canadians from flying to foreign destinations. There are also concerns that data collected on Canadian citizens will be readily accessible to a broad range of U.S. agencies and just what might be done with the information.