BCCLA seeks travellers who were filmed by Border Security show without consent

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By Kate Webb/
Published on May 28, 2013


Photo Credit: Metro/Kate Webb. B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director Josh Paterson speaks to the media about the show Border Security on May 28, 2013.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) wants to hear from anyone who believes they have been filmed by reality TV show Border Security without their consent and wants to file a privacy complaint.

The BCCLA has already filed a complaint with the federal Privacy Commissioner about the filming of a raid on a Vancouver construction site in March that resulted in the deportation of undocumented workers, which has not yet been resolved.

Following public outcry, the production company, Force Four Entertainment, agreed not to use any of the footage from that raid on the show.

“Canada Border Services Agency and its partners have been filming travellers crossing the U.S. border by land and air,” said BCCLA executive director Josh Paterson on Tuesday, “whether Canadian citizens, visitors or potential refugee claimants, and they’ve been filming those people for public entertainment in the Border Security TV series.

“People have the right to cross the border without guest starring in a reality TV show.”

Paterson, a human rights lawyer, said under the federal Privacy Act government agencies such as the CBSA are only entitled to collect information, including images, when it is related to their lawfully mandated job.

Disclaimer signs at the airport and at border crossings instruct travellers to alert film crew members if they don’t wish to be filmed, but Paterson said that breeches their right on federal property to refuse consent without addressing a third-party.

The civil liberties group also launched an online form Tuesday giving travellers the option to refuse or revoke permission for their image to be used on the show. Paterson said 150 people signed it in the first hour alone.

The CBSA did not respond to requests for comment by Metro’s deadline, but Force Four Entertainment released a statement denying anyone’s rights have been violated.

“Without exception, everyone in the background is blurred and unidentifiable,” said company president Rob Bromley in an email.

“This has been true for every episode since the beginning of the series.”

But Paterson alleged the collection of information — the simple act of filming for a TV show without consent — is a violation of the Privacy Act, regardless of the way it is presented when it is broadcast.

“Blurring images later doesn’t fix the problem in our view,” he wrote in an email to Metro.

“Also from a practical perspective blurring doesn’t necessarily ensure your anonymity, particularly if those who know you view the show.”

Border Security continues to film at locations in B.C. and Ontario, including the Douglas border crossing, Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Pacific Highway Traffic crossing and Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

To date, nearly 25,000 people have signed a petition calling for the show’s cancellation, and 90 human rights groups, legal organizations and labour unions have signed a letter to federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews urging him to withdraw the CBSA’s participation in the show.

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