CBA on privacy of Canadians at airports and borders

  • September 28, 2017

The Canadian Bar Association appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

David Fraser (Privacy and Access Law) and Cyndee Todgham Cherniak (Commodity Tax, Customs and Trade) presented  the submission prepared by the CBA Privacy and Access Law, Immigration Law, and Commodity Tax, Customs and Trade Sections, as well as the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association (CCCA) and the Ethics Subcommittee of the Policy Committee of the Board, to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in their study of the Privacy of Canadians at Airports, Borders and Travelling in the United States.

In the submission, the CBA Sections acknowledge that information collection and sharing at the border is necessary to ensure the security of Canadians. However, collecting and sharing too much information, or information that is unreliable, can also lead to harmful consequences for Canadians. An appropriate balance must be achieved between national security and preserving our individual privacy rights and freedoms.

With this balance in mind, the CBA Sections provide comments on the collection of information at the border on entry and exit; solicitor-client privilege at the border; the disclosure of information collected at the border; as well as the importance of effective CBSA oversight and accountability mechanisms.

Solicitor-client privilege is fundamental to the proper functioning of the Canadian legal system. It must be respected at the Canadian border, at Canadian airports, and when Canadian lawyers and their clients travel to the US. The CBA Sections continue to recommend the creation of a working group to collaborate on the development of a comprehensive policy on solicitor-client privilege that is publicly available on the CBSA website. More detailed guidance should be available to CBSA officers and the public, including lawyers, to ensure safeguards are in place to avoid unauthorized access to documents protected by solicitor-client privilege.

Read the submission