This may hint at my advancing years, but I distinctly recall being in awe, at least a couple of decades ago, at the ambitious scope of an international effort of cross-espionage called ECHELON that had already been in operation for some 30 years. It was an undertaking of massive proportions where 5 countries (the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) agreed to monitor Eastern Bloc communications while protecting their respective citizens against surreptitious domestic surveillance. So – get this – each member country demonstrated respect for the privacy of its own people by allowing the others to spy on them, and they each had to reciprocate in kind before ostensibly pooling the data. This heart warming standard of care is perhaps owed to the fact that the pesky notion of privacy had been freshly introduced in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and preceded ECHELON by about a decade.
The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has installed equipment designed to record video and audio in Canadian airports (and possibly other ports of entry). This initiative appears to be based on the 2009 amendment to the Customs Act which allows for the creation of "Customs Controlled Areas" (CCA) to "combat organized crime and internal conspiracies". However, a CCA is only defined as an area where border services officers (BSOs) have the authority to examine goods and to question and search people. So is the bit about audio and video recording just an expensive effort to deter miscreant activity or is it a failure to respect the privacy rights of travelers that will only result in lengthy court challenges and a general distrust of Ottawa's future initiatives?
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