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New Border Screening Program in Canada Tags Select Passengers for Extra Scrutiny

A new border security system flags passengers who meet undisclosed demographic criteria for more thorough screening upon arrival in Canada.

The adoption of a security protocol already used in the U.S. is causing controversy in Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) participation in the type of automated targeting system pioneered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is drawing the ire of civil rights groups. The new screening system was adopted as part of a pact with the U.S. known as the Beyond the Border Initiative.

CTV News reports that CBSA has flagged more than 2,300 arriving passengers for extra scrutiny at arrival. The purportedly automated targeting system uses advanced data mining techniques to help identify passengers who might pose a security risk and the program then flags those passengers for extra screening at the border. The criteria used by the program is a closely guarded secret, but the data considered is said to include travel history, country of origin and other demographic information.

Civil rights organizations, including the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), have questioned whether the automated system is a needed security measure or is instead a case of Canadian officials bowing to U.S. demands. The targeting program has also raised concerns from government officials. Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien released an official report that called for safeguards to be put in place to ensure that the system is not being used to justify racial profiling. “It could allow the operator to, for example, search for all males aged between the ages of 18-20 who are Egyptian nationals and who have visited both Paris and New York,” the commissioner wrote in his annual report to Parliament.

In a written response to CTV, a CBSA spokesman insisted that the program is not used to profile passengers based on religious or ethnic backgrounds but instead relies on “a generic set of indicators.”

[Photo: The Canadian Press]

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2 Comments
L
lindros2 January 18, 2016

All for the 51st state of America.

C
Centurion January 16, 2016

Extra security for people who come and go from certain destinations. YES to common sense