BORDERS NOT FOR REALITY TV: BCCLA to challenge Canadian authorities over reality TV filming at border

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  • BCCLA launches on-line form for travelers to refuse consent for reality TV filming when crossing the border
  • Watchdog makes public call for travelers whose privacy rights have been violated; intends to file complaint

VANCOUVER – The BC Civil Liberties Association has issued a public call-out to travelers whose privacy rights have been violated by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the border. CBSA has been filming people who cross the border as part of its participation in the for-profit reality TV show “Border Security”, produced by Force Four Entertainment and broadcast by Shaw Media. At the border, signs have been posted saying that travelers are deemed to give their permission to be filmed simply because they are present at the border crossing.

“People have the right to cross the border by land, sea, or air without guest starring in a reality TV show. CBSA can’t assume that people consent to being filmed for TV just because they cross the border. We have created an on-line form where travelers can legally refuse their consent to be filmed for this TV series,” said Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “We are also asking people to let us know if they have been filmed for this reality show without their free and informed consent. We think that’s against the law, and we will file a privacy complaint if an appropriate complainant steps forward. CBSA should focus on doing its job, not promoting itself on TV at the expense of people’s privacy rights.”

The BCCLA is hosting two online forms at One form will allow individuals who have crossed the border or who are planning a trip outside Canada to legally refuse permission to be filmed by CBSA or its private film crew partners, including Force Four Entertainment, Shaw Media, National Geographic and BST Media. A second form will allow travelers who may have had their privacy rights violated by CBSA to submit their stories. BCCLA intends to file a privacy complaint if an appropriate complainant comes forward.

The signs posted at the border tell travelers they may be filmed for the CBSA’s reality TV series while they are processed for admission to Canada. An original version stated: “your entrance to this area will serve as your voluntary agreement to include your appearance, image and likeness on screen as part of the “Border Security” television series.” A new version of the sign implies that travelers may be filmed for TV without their permission, but that their image could be altered if they do not wish to be identifiable in the series. The signs also tell individuals that they must object if they wish to avoid being filmed: “If you see the crew filming in your area and do not wish to be filmed, please notify a crew member and we will accommodate you“. Many travelers may have been filmed without their consent while these signs were posted.

The BCCLA is joining with a number of other concerned groups including No One Is Illegal Vancouver, and members of the campaign, in circulating these forms to the public. The effort follows on the heels of a privacy complaint filed by the BCCLA in March over a reality TV crew accompanying the CBSA on a raid in search of undocumented workers.

Harsha Walia of No One Is Illegal Vancouver 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.”

Media Contact

Josh Paterson, Executive Director, BCCLA, 604-630-9752

Harsha Walia, No One Is Illegal Vancouver, 778-885-0040

BCCLA is not affiliated with and does not necessarily endorse the views of any other organization but is happy to stand together with others in common cause on this important issue.


Refusal of Consent Form & Complaint Form


Further Resources

Cancel Border Security Coalition – Information on the broader campaign to stop the CBSA from producing this reality TV show that violates people’s rights.