Canadian Government Installing Mics to Eavesdrop on Airport Conversations

The Canadian federal government has started installing microphones and cameras in passengers areas at the Ottawa airport to listen in on conversations and identify potential security threats.

There will be signs posted around the airport referring people to a privacy notice on the website for the Canadian Border Services Agency and a phone number for a help line that will provide information on how these recordings are being used and stored. No word on who will actually staff the help line, given the cuts most departments are seeing.

The CBSA assured Canadians that the equipment being set up right now is not currently recording but it will be “at a later date.”

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner is currently reviewing the CBSA’s privacy assessment concerning monitoring at ‘customs controlled areas,’ but told Postmedia reporter Ian MacLeod that if the CBSA wants to introduce audio-video monitoring, they will need to see a full privacy impact report.

Any recommendations the Privacy Commissioner might make in response to such a report would be non-binding, but such a report might draw the Canadian public’s attention to issues.

The union that represents CBSA employees at the Ottawa International Airport has raised concerns that worker conversations might be recorded and things they say could be unfairly used against them.

There has been no reporting of what customs agents will be actively listening for or what type of conversation could lead to action. Will they be listening for specific keywords? Will there be CBSA staff in charge of sitting in a room and listening to conversations 24 hours a day?

It seems unlikely.

This new technology is most likely more preventative than anything, making people aware that anything they say could be used against them at a later date.

The CBSA says the aim is to deter smugglers and organized crime.

Once again the privacy of the many is deemed little cost compared to the crimes of the few.

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Photo Credit: redjar


Magdalena C.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thank you!

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M5 years ago

Are we going to end up with no privacy at all?? In my opinion the crime element and terrorists would not be talking at all.
Thanks for posting Amy.

Juliet Defarge
judith sanders5 years ago

Ridiculous. Look at the events of past bomb and hijack attempts. The terrorists didn't hang around discussing what they were about to do. In most cases they acted alone. If any signals are given, these would be disguised as ordinary speech. How would a listener know that "I need another cup of coffee" was a cue?

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V5 years ago

Next there will be troops on the street corners, just to keep us safe of course. Here, in Canada and in every industralized nation.

Henry Alfred Kissinger
(B, CFR, TC)

“Today, Americans would be outraged if UN troops entered Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow, they will be grateful! This would especially be true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated that threatened our very existence. Is is then that all people of the world will please to deliver them from this evil. The one thing man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to then by a World Government.”

Kissinger at the World Affairs Council Press Conference, Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel , April 19th 1994: “The New World Order cannot happen without U.S. participation, as we are the most significant single component. Yes, there will be a New World Order, and it will force the United States to change it’s perceptions.”

Shan D.
Shan D5 years ago

@Jane R.: On the contrary. Some months back when Vic Toews first said people who prefer privacy are child pornographers, some people started a "Tell Vic Everything" site (on Twitter, I think). People bombarded it with the minute, extremely boring, mundane details of their lives. The idea was to make the point that most peoples' lives are very ordinary and that this invasion of privacy is (in addition to being a reprehensible breach of our Charter Rights) really not worth the money they plan to spend doing it.

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

Better not talk about how good sex was with your date or husband the night before, to anyone at the airport! This is nothing more than eavesdropping and an invasion of privacy.

Duane B.
.5 years ago

If they're listening ... they're probably reading too! Careful!! ;-)

Michelle F.
Michelle F.5 years ago

That's it, I'm road tripping everywhere from now on.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P5 years ago

this government is horrible :s

Pamela Tracy
Pamela Tracy5 years ago

Well.....I think they have already been listening for years..they are just covering their you know whats...and I think that a lot of citizens will say things just to get a rise out of the govt listening...........ha ...... it is sad that the govt listeners use normal speech to make a person look bad anyway....we cant even fart in our own homes in the USA or go to the bathroom without some listener listening to us...just a bunch of sickos in govt out of control. Actually maybe they will catch someone this time...