Potential break in privacy laws for Canada

According to reports, the US Transportation Security Administration (USTSA) is demanding from Canada to breach its privacy laws for persons travelling over US airspace.

This information is of significance to persons wishing to visit the Caribbean region (or persons from that region flying to Canada) because, Canada has a privacy law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which is a federal law and which applies to Canadian companies. Under that law, it is currently prohibited to share personal information of parties.

Essentially, the USTSA demands that airlines provide the name, gender and date of birth of persons travelling over US airspace. It is irrelevant that airlines do not land in the US, insofar as they are travelling over US airspace, the personal information of travellers must be provided. This information is then vetted against the US security watch list. Any person who is on that list could either be subjected to extensive searches or be barred from the flight.

If Canadian companies are to comply with the USTSA’s demands, they could be forced to breach Canadian privacy law. Canadian companies are therefore requesting that the Canadian government come up with a permanent solution preventing access of privacy information to USTSA.

Concern ought to be raised over potential use of a person’s personal information for reasons other than aviation — particularly as the USTSA makes it clear that landing of the aircraft on US soil is irrelevant.

According to a report “The Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group has argued that sprawling American watch lists could ensnare many Canadians – or activists, immigrants and refugees who want to fly to Canada from Latin America but must travel through American airspace to do so”.


Marcia B Moulon-Atherley, Attorney at Law and Avocat à la Cour

Law Office of Marcia B. Moulon


Copyright Marcia B. Moulon-Atherley, Esq, 2010-2015.  All Rights Reserved.