Public concerns put an end to RCMP reality TV in the Yukon

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VANCOUVER – The BC Civil Liberties Association reacted to the news today that the Yukon RCMP have decided not to create a reality TV show about their operations.

Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, stated:

“We are very pleased that the RCMP has heard the public’s concerns and has decided to leave this bad idea on the cutting room floor. This policing-as-entertainment TV show threatened significant violations of individual privacy rights by the RCMP. Cancelling it was the sensible thing to do and we applaud the force for making the right decision.

Right now the federal privacy commissioner is investigating a different law enforcement agency – the Canada Border Services Agency – for making a very similar show here in B.C. That show has potentially violated the privacy rights of many individuals – whether or not people signed consent forms.  Whether at the border or in the Yukon, law enforcement officers are entrusted with significant power and authority. When people are caught up in dealings with them, they often cannot provide proper legal consent to participate in these shows because of the duress that they might feel. It is not the same as when individuals might appear in the background or foreground of a media story or other filming, because it is the police who are behind the filming.

It’s fine for police agencies to educate the public about their operations, but this shouldn’t take the form of COPS-style TV shows. Similarly, it’s just fine for police to record their interactions with people – with proper safeguards over the data that is collected – but that footage can’t be used to produce public entertainment.”

To date more than 1400 people have signed the BCCLA’s forms indicating that they refuse to consent to being filmed for reality TV when crossing the border. Canadians are consistently raising their voices to say “policing is not for entertainment”.


See our work on the CBSA show Border Security