Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has been quoted as stating: “Canada’s new passport is not just a ticket to new places, new cultures, and new experiences, It tells the world who we are. a Nation built on freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.” On Friday, while unveiling the designs for the new Canadian passport.
How accurate is that statement?
Here is a excerpt from a huffingtonpost.ca article. That really leaves one wondering. Is this system adhering to Canada’s heritage of “freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law”?
“The Office of the Privacy Commissioner raised questions about the security level of the chip, the privacy implications of using radio-frequency identification technology and potential future uses of the data chip.
Passport Canada explored the feasibility of adding a second biometric, such as fingerprints or iris scans, but decided in the end not to include more information on the chip than what is found on page 2 of the current passport.
The system, however, is set up to use facial recognition software if desired. One briefing note states: “US and Canada have no immediate plans for automated border entry systems using facial images in ePassports.” But if both countries wanted to, they could easily implement such a network. Passport Canada’s facial-recognition database has more than 20 million records that include old photos of passport applicants that it uses to match new applicants and those seeking renewals.
Andrew Clement, a professor at the faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, is particularly concerned by Passport Canada’s growing database.
He believes Passport Canada should have both consulted the public on the type of biometric information it wanted to collect and publicly stated what future use it might have for the data.
“The database could be used for other purposes if there aren’t sufficient restraints on it,” Clement said in an interview. He noted that the Crown-owned Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) offered the Vancouver police the use of its facial recognition technology and database to find people involved in the Stanley Cup hockey riot in 2011.
The temptation over time to use the database as a way of identifying people from photographs could just be too great, he said.
“It is opening the door to a range of possible biometrics. They are creating an online biometric database which needs very strong safeguards, and they are proceeding without due oversight,” Clement said.
Several other Canadian agencies collect biometric information: the RCMP runs the Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services; the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has the NEXUS program for frequent travellers to the United States; CBSA also has a 5CC information sharing program; and, with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, it operates a Temporary Resident Biometrics Project. Provincial motor vehicle operator licensing units also have large facial-recognition databases.”
Massive facial recognition databases with little to no oversight on how they are being used. Does this sound like we are adhering to the rule of law? No input from the people on what information the RFID chips and biometrics will utilize. Does that sound democratic? Would a truly free country keep biometric databases on its people?
If you are contemplating any one of these questions, this next piece of the puzzle is going to make your head spin!
The Beyond the Border: A Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness agreement, signed in 2011 between Canada and America. Calls for greater amounts of information sharing between the countries. In short, the Department of Homeland Security can also access these databases. That’s right, a foreign government can access the facial recognition databases of Canadians. And of course there is little to no oversight here either.
This is a perfect example of how we are slowly witnessing not only the creation of massive government monitoring (spy) networks, but also the further merging of the two nations.