Skip to content

NEWS: Federal government may be violating Privacy Act with TV show ‘Border Security’

The Vancouver Sun reports, The B.C. Civil Liberties Association … is raising fresh concerns about (‘Border Security’), a reality TV show that chronicles the work of Canadian border officers, arguing the federal government’s continued participation in the program violates privacy laws and should be stopped.”

The article notes, “Crews from the show … have been at airports and border crossings gathering footage of members of the public without their consent. …The association’s executive director Josh Paterson said, …’Simply being at the border cannot mean that you automatically consent to being filmed or potentially included in CBSA’s reality TV show. This is unacceptable — and, in our view, illegal.’ Specifically, Paterson said the practice appears to violate rules in the Privacy Act that prohibit government agencies from collecting or using information in ways that fall outside their legal mandates — in this case, enforcing border laws. Paterson’s group is asking anyone who has encountered TV crews while crossing the border to contact the association, which plans to file a complaint with the federal privacy commissioner.”

Harsha Walia of No One Is Illegal Vancouver has commented, “This TV show has been criticized by over 25,000 individuals, hundreds of cultural professionals, and almost one hundred international and national human rights, legal, advocacy and community organizations. Since this show appears to be filming people without their free and informed consent, it is now time for all of us to proactively protect our individual privacy rights and to collectively assert that we will not participate in this media production subsidized by the federal government that exploits stories of personal humiliation at the hands of law enforcement.”

The two groups have also launched a “I Do Not Consent!” campaign. They note, “Anyone who has ever crossed the border and anyone who plans on crossing the border should sign this form. …If we all legally refuse to be on their show, who can they film?” To fill out the form, go to http://bccla.org/notfortv/refusal/.

In mid-March, the Council of Canadians added its voice to the many expressing concern about the television show, as noted in the article, “after border officers brought along a film crew as they raided a Vancouver-area construction site and arrested a number of workers suspected of entering the country illegally”. In late-April we joined with numerous groups – including the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, No One Is Illegal-Vancouver, the Canadian Labour Congress and Amnesty International – to write Public Safety minister Vic Toews, the president of the Canadian Border Services Agency, and executives from Force Four Entertainment and Shaw Media, to express “collective concern about Border Security: Canada’s Front Line”.

Maude Barlow has stated, “The Harper government and the production company should not be collaborating on a disgusting for-profit show that has turned deportation into entertainment. Is this really where the federal government is spending taxpayer resources and what broadcasters are choosing as programming?” According to a Postmedia News report, the CBSA spent about $60,000 on the first season of ‘Border Security’ to cover the salary and travel expenses for their staff to escort film crews and oversee filming, while the second season is expected to cost taxpayers about $160,000.

For more, please read:
B.C. Civil liberties group calls for people filmed at border
BCCLA to challenge Canadian authorities over reality TV filming at border
Coalition of Organizations Release Letter Regarding Border Security TV Show
Petition to cancel the reality show Border Security