CCRA implements part two of passenger ID program

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Canada’s program to identify high-risk travellers is kicking into part two this summer.

Canada’s Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) program is designed to protect Canadians by helping to identify high-risk travellers before they reach Canada’s borders and airports, says a press release from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA).

While the API/PNR program will ultimately be implemented for all modes of transportation, it currently focuses only on air travel.

Under the new program, CCRA is authorized to collect and retain information on travellers and to keep it for customs purposes under section 107.1 of the Customs Act.

API is basic data that identifies a traveller and is collected at the time of check-in. This information is used to identify persons who pose a known risk, prior to their arrival in Canada. The API program was implemented in October 2002.

PNR data relate to the traveller’s reservation and travel itinerary contained in a carrier’s reservation system.

This information is used to identify passengers for further examination on arrival, and to conduct ongoing analysis of data for identification of potential future threats relating to the customs mandate. The PNR program will be implemented in phases beginning in the summer of 2003.

Similar programs are successfully being used by a number of other border inspection agencies worldwide, including those of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, says the CCRA press release.

The press release says the government is making every effort to protect Canadians’ privacy, while at the same time ensuring the integrity of our border protection mandate. To this end, the API/PNR program includes strict safeguards that govern how the CCRA collects, retains and shares API/PNR data. These safeguards aim to ensure that the information is used only where necessary to support the customs program and the protection of Canadians.

The main safeguards for the API/PNR are as follows:

* All information that is not required for customs purposes will be purged, including information on meals and health.
* PNR data will be retained for six years; however, use and access will vary by length or retention throughout the six-year period.
* For the first 72 hours, PNR information will be used by customs officers to assess risk.
* From 72 hours to two years, the information will be depersonalized and used by intelligence and targetting officers. The information can be re-identified with the traveller’s name only when necessary for customs purposes.
* During this two-year period, information will be shared with other agencies or departments for non-customs purposes if a warrant has been obtained.
* From two to six years, PNR information will only be kept on a depersonalized basis. Access will only be provided if authorized by the Commissioner of the CCRA and it will only be provided where there are reasons to suspect that the name or identifying data elements are necessary to identify high-risk persons who pose a risk to the security of Canada.
* During this final period, information can only be shared with agencies that have a national security or defence mandate.

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