Statement of Privacy Principles
The Statement of Privacy Principles fleshes out the provision, receipt and use of personal information that has been exchanged between the two nations. The Statement functions as a guide for all information sharing arrangements and initiatives described in the Beyond the Border Plan.
The Statement is made up of the following key ideas that further develop the Beyond the Border Action Plan:
Recognizing greater information sharing between the two countries is vital to protecting the security of citizens.
Recognizing that Canada and the US are committed to protecting privacy in all Beyond the Border arrangements and initiatives.
Noting that implementation of these Principles may be tailored to the specific context of particular Beyond the Border arrangements and initiatives, but always in a manner consistent with the Principles.
Recognizing that exceptions from principles may be required for law enforcement and national security purposes. These will be limited in number, made known to both Canada and the US and the public, and consistent with domestic law.
Recognizing that personal information is to be provided, received and used only in accordance with domestic and international law applicable to the US and Canada.
According to Chantal Bernier, assistant privacy commissioner of Canada, “A newly published agreement on how information will be handled under the Canada-US security pact means personal details about Canadians could be sent to a country with a poor human rights record.”
Bernier went on to say that the principle on information sharing falls short of the standard recommended by the federal commission of inquiry charged with examining the Maher Arar torture case. She said, “We were hoping for greater control for Canada on the personal information it holds.”
While the Beyond the Border principles contain some fundamental building blocks of good privacy practices, these principles are ultimately non-binding. However, they include:
The right to see and verify the personal information governments hold
The right to seek correction or redress
Safeguards to ensure that data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands
“Considering that privacy is a fundamental human right, one would expect that a statement of privacy principles would be binding,” Bernier pointed out. “So the fact that it’s not begs the question of the purpose of the statement.