Ottawa Temporarily Suspends Airport Eavesdropping Following Severe Public Backlash

Recently Techvibes reported on plans by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to monitor and record the conversations at Canadian airports.

To recap, the $500,000 project would eavesdrop on people in the name of “border integrity, infrastructure and asset security, and health and safety,” according to a CBSA statement.

Ottawa officials know they’ve entered murky waters with respect to personal privacy, and new public scrutiny have forced the government to pause the project.

And while the earlier statement to the Ottawa Citizen explained that the recording equipment is not operational, it would seem that this is not entirely true. 

Apparently, some overzealous CBSA agents at the Stanfield International Airport in Enfield, NS secretly recorded the conversations of unsuspecting travellers.

Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, has stopped the project until a study on privacy implications can be conducted.  It is surprising that such a survey was not conducted until after the $500,000 of equipment was bought and installed.

It should be noted that the recorded conversations only took place in the Stanfield International Airport, and only in the secondary screening room between CBSA agents and travellers requiring a secondary screening. Mr. Toews has stated that he “shares the concerns of Canadians regarding the privacy impact of audio recordings, even when it occurs in a restricted area in an airport.”