Canadian, US Governments to Monitor Your Exits

Airport security line By Josh Hallett from Winter Haven, FL, USA (Atlanta Security Line) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

by Josh Hallett / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Have you heard of the Entry/Exit initiative? You had better get familiar with this new initiative of both the Canadian and the US governments. Because it will almost certainly affect your life. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I ever plan on travelling to the USA?
  • Do I ever plan on taking a flight to the USA, whether as a final destination, or as a transit destination?
  • Do I ever plan to travel outside of Canada at some point in the future?

If, like most Canadians and residents of Canada, the answer to any of the above questions is ‘yes,’ then you should know what this initiative proposes.

 

What is Currently Shared

What Does the CBSA Know About You?

Here are some facts you may not have known:

  • As of right now, the Canadian and US governments share the entry records of, on average, over 15,000 non-citizens every single day, who enter Canada from the USA, or vice versa.
  • Biographic entry information is the official term. It includes the following information:
    • First name, middle name(s), last name;
    • Date of birth;
    • Citizenship or Nationality;
    • Sex;
    • Travel Document type and document number;
    • Name of country that issued the travel document;
    • Date and time of entry;
    • Port of entry (i.e. border crossing).
  • This information is collected at land ports of entry, and does not (for now – see below) cover air travel.
  • It is currently collected for only the following types of travellers:
    • Third-Country Nationals (neither Canadian nor American citizens);
    • Permanent Residents of Canada;
    • Lawful Permanent Residents of the USA.

But this is only a first step in collecting information on you every time you travel to and from Canada. The next step (which is the basis of this new initiative) is to also collect so-called exit information. As of now, your entry record into one country serves as the exit record for the country you travelled from. So, for example, a Canadian Permanent Resident’s entry record at a land border crossing at Detroit, USA, would also serve as their exit record for Windsor, Canada.

 

What Will Be Shared

Big Data By Thierry Gregorius (Cartoon: Big Data) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

by Thierry Gregorious / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

  • All travellers – including citizens of both Canada and the USA – will have their entry and exit information recorded.
  • This will occur both at land borders and at airports for air travel as well.
  • Biographic entry information will be exchanged for ALL travellers at land borders. This means that US and Canadian citizens would also have their biographic entry information shared by Canadian and US authorities.
  • The exit records for ALL air travellers would be collected by means of the airlines’ electronic passenger manifests (the passenger list). These would be sent directly by the air carriers to the Canadian government.
  • The exit records of air travellers would NOT be shared with the US government, according to the proposed Entry/Exit initiative.
  • Biographic exit information  would contain similar information to the biographic entry information:
    • First name, middle name(s), last name;
    • Date of Birth;
    • Citizenship or Nationality;
    • Sex;
    • Travel document type and travel document number;
    • Name of country that issued the document;
    • Date and time of departure;
    • Location of departure;
    • Flight information.
  • They claim that all collection and sharing of personal information will continue to be done in accordance with Canada’s and the US’s policies and privacy laws.

 

Why is This Happening?

The main goal is increased efficiency and security along Canada and the US’s shared border. This will allow Canadian authorities to achieve the following:

  • Be able to track and respond to high-risk travellers attempting to leave Canada. This includes:
    • Registered Sex Offenders;
    • Fugitives of Justice;
    • Drug Smugglers;
    • Human Smugglers;
    • Exporters of illegal goods.
  • Respond quickly to Amber Alerts and help find runaways and kidnapped children.
  • Identify visa overstays and provide authorities with an accurate picture of a given individual’s travel history.
  • Avoid wasted resources and time investigating or issuing immigration warrants on individuals who have already left Canada.
  • Verify residency requirements for citizenship or permanent resident applicants.
  • Verify travel dates to assess:

As you can see, the effects of this information gathering and sharing program will be widespread. You may find yourself denied an unemployment benefit or some other government benefit depending upon how much time you spend outside of Canada. And the government will know about how, when, and where you traveled to; whether you want them to or not.

 

Are There Safeguards in Place?

Privacy By Tom Murphy (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

by Tom Murphy / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

There are several ways that your private information will be protected:

  • Exit information (when you leave Canada by car or plane) would be disclosed only subject to Canadian law, including:
    • The Privacy Act;
    • The Customs Act;
  • Information-sharing arrangements between the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) - and any other agency/department in Canada or the USA - have to be in place before any actual exit or entry information is shared.
  • All Canadian federal partners (law enforcement agencies, government departments/agencies etc.) will have to submit reports to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) to identify and manage potential privacy risks.

 

When is This Happening?

The Entry/Exit initiative is at the proposal stage, and will need to be approved by Parliament through Canada’s legislative – or law-making – process to become law. That process will involve consultations by the government with various groups, including individual Canadians and industry stakeholders, so if this makes you angry, you should try to attend one or more of these meetings.

What this all means is that the Canadian authorities will now know:

  • Where and when you entered Canada;
  • Where and when you exited Canada;
  • Whether you are a permanent resident, a citizen, or a temporary resident.

It will be a brave new world. Get used to it.

Find Out What the Government Knows About You


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