Posts Tagged Ottawa Citizen
Listening equipment ‘will record conversations’ at Canadian airports: CBSA
BY IAN MACLEOD, POSTMEDIA NEWS JUNE 16, 2012
Sophisticated cameras and microphones will put passengers at the Ottawa airport under greater scrutiny than ever before.
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto , The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA – Airports and border crossings across Canada are being wired with high-definition cameras and microphones that can eavesdrop on travellers’ conversations, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.
A CBSA statement said that audio-video monitoring and recording is already in place at unidentified CBSA sites at airports and border points of entry as part of an effort to enhance “border integrity, infrastructure and asset security and health and safety.”
As part of the work, the agency is introducing audio-monitoring equipment as well.
“It is important to note that even though audio technology is installed, no audio is recorded at this time. It will become functional at a later date,” CBSA spokesman Chris Kealey said in a written statement.
But whenever that occurs, the technology, “will record conversations,” the agency said in a separate statement in response to questions from the Ottawa Citizen.
At Ottawa’s airport, signs will be posted referring passersby to a “privacy notice” that will be posted on the CBSA website once the equipment is activated, and to a separate help line explaining how the recordings will be used, stored, disclosed and retained.
Already, though, the union representing about 45 CBSA employees at the airport is concerned personal workplace conversations and remarks could be captured and become part of employees’ official record, Jean-Pierre Fortin, national president of the Custom and Immigration Union, said Friday. He added that the union only learned of the audio-recording development this week, after reporters began making inquiries.
The recording equipment may also be linked to a federal initiative to help CBSA combat organized crime and internal smuggling conspiracies at big Canadian airports.
A 2008 RCMP report said at least 58 crime groups were believed active at major airports, typically by corrupting airport employees or placing criminal associates in airport jobs to move narcotics and other contraband to and from planes.
The Customs Act was amended in 2009 to allow for the creation of “customs controlled areas” within airports, starting with those in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, followed by Ottawa and other international Canadian aerodromes.
A crucial aspect of the change are proposed regulations giving border services officers expanded powers to question, examine and search airport workers and travellers, both domestic and international, within the designated areas.
The controlled areas at Ottawa’s Macdonald-Cartier International Airport include the areas surrounding aircraft that have arrived in or are about to leave Canada; the primary inspection area where all travellers must report to a border services officer; the secondary inspection area where border services officers conduct further examinations of travellers and goods; as well as certain holding and departure areas at the airport.
The Treasury Board requires government departments to conduct a “privacy impact assessment” before establishing any new or substantially modified program or activity involving personal information. The assessment is then reviewed by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
The office this week said it is reviewing a CBSA privacy assessment for the customs controlled areas.
But, “we have not received a privacy impact assessment regarding audio-video monitoring at the Ottawa airport,” said spokeswoman Valerie Lawton. “If the CBSA were to introduce audio-video monitoring, our office would expect a full privacy impact assessment, which we would review and make (non-binding) recommendations as necessary to protect privacy.”
An official with the Ottawa International Airport Authority had no comment on the CBSA installations, saying the two organizations are distinct and separate.
- Canadian airports being wired with listening equipment that ‘will record conversations’: CBSA (vancouversun.com)
- Ottawa airport wired with microphones to record travellers’ conversations (blacklistednews.com)
- Listening equipment ‘will record conversations’ at Canadian airports: CBSA (canada.com)
- Ottawa Airport Wired with Microphones as Border Services Prepares to Record Travellers’ Conversations (sott.net)
- Ottawa Airport Wired with Microphones to Record Travelers’ Conversations (cryptogon.com)
- Ottawa Airport Violates Privacy Laws And Records Your Conversations (newsworldwide.wordpress.com)
- Undeclared Rolex watch costs Vancouver traveller $40,000 in fines (calgaryherald.com)
- The CBSA Investigates the Dumping and Subsidizing of Certain Steel Piling Pipe (sys-con.com)
- Seizure of Stun Guns Leads to Charges by the CBSA (sys-con.com)
- Halifax consulting firm members charged with aiding immigration fraud: CBSA (news.nationalpost.com)
Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
Some call it profiling. Some call it discrimination. Some call it stereotyping.
Some call it “Grandma, you can’t keep ripping off my metropolitan phonebook in order to see over the steering wheel!”
Whatever one’s gut reaction to the issue of older drivers, the aging of the vast Baby Boom generation demands that the subject be discussed, in order to achieve a balance between road safety and harmonious, productive “golden years.”
Cam Cardow / Ottawa Citizen (click to view more cartoons by Cam)
Sadly, society has found it difficult to conduct a meaningful dialogue about the potential dangers. Seniors’ knee-jerk reaction is to dwell on how much better they drive than teenagers. Thoughtful seniors will concede that there is a certain unfairness to challenging someone to a urination contest when you haven’t quite got your incontinency medication right.
The debate is clouded by the fact that all drivers are different and no age group has a monopoly on driving skills. Older drivers are superior in many aspects of the task, but studies have shown a frightening dimension to their road rage. (“Dadgummit, tomatoes just don’t taste like they did when I was growing up — and SOMEBODY is going to pay!!!”)
Studies show that seniors have a slower reaction time when faced with glaring headlights and other distractions. I don’t mean to question the researchers, but many of the elderly are still adept at snap decisions. (“So this is your new girlfriend. She has tattoos. That means she’s a prostitute!”)
The ability to continue driving is important to the DIGNITY of seniors. They can regale their passengers with dignified stories of “Did I ever tell you what my friends and I did at WOODSTOCK? We were still laughing about that when we bought our first polyester leisure suits and platform shoes. Breaker, breaker, good buddy. Are you still listening back there?”
According to USA Today, more than 600,000 drivers age 70 and above voluntarily take themselves off the road each year. We need to help seniors recognize the tell-tale signs that they need to shift to a less independent lifestyle. If you drive while talking on the phone — the LAND-LINE phone—it’s probably time to hang up the keys. If you dutifully look both ways at an intersection — because you never know when the Pony Express could come by — it’s probably time to hang up the keys. If you pull to the shoulder of the road out of respect for a funeral procession, and don’t start up again until you hear the wagon driver chanting, “Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!” — it’s probably time to hang up the keys.
The situation demands a wide arsenal, including periodic testing of ALL drivers who have brushes with the law, respectfully customized restricted licenses, a streamlined process for reporting concerns and heightened publicity for AARP driver education programs.
One of the greatest dreads of adult children is the time that they must ask their parents to surrender their car keys. Of course this process is made much easier if the parent flaunts a Winnebago plastered with bumper stickers such as “I’m Spending My Children’s Inheritance.” (“It’s safer if you give up driving, Dad. And you never know when the batteries in the TV remote will start a fire. And I’ve heard some disturbing things about the potential danger of recliners…”)
- Older Drivers: Should They Be Tested? (Guest Voice) (themoderatevoice.com)
- Car Insurance Co. Promotes Senior Driver Safety Conversations (news.onlineautoinsurance.com)
- Britain’s roads are ‘third safest’ (confused.com)
- Tenn. Seniors Receive Auto Insurance Discounts for Class Completion (news.onlineautoinsurance.com)
- Safe Driving Course Can Save Seniors on Auto Insurance (news.onlineautoinsurance.com)
- Toyota Developing Car To Sense Your Mood (alan.com)
- Older drivers: Getting behind the headlines (ageukblog.org.uk)
- Bridgestone tyres wins top award for safety technology (etyres.co.uk)
- When does one become too old to drive a car? (mindfulmod.com)
- Wave of elderly drivers prompts tough choices – YOU DECIDE: Retest older drivers every year? (foxnews.com)
A simple question, a blizzard of emails, and a peek inside how Canada’s bureaucracy works
BY TOM SPEARS, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN
APRIL 17, 2012
OTTAWA — The Citizen asked the National Research Council a simple question back in March: What’s this joint study that you and NASA are doing on falling snow?
The federal department never agreed to an interview. It sent an email instead, with technical details on equipment but without much information on the nature of the project.
It never even explained the study’s topic.
Before sending even that modest response, however, it took a small army of staffers — 11 of them by our count — to decide how to answer, and dozens of emails back and forth to circulate the Citizen’s request, discuss its motivation, develop their response, and “massage” its text.
All this for a question about how snow falls.
NASA, meanwhile, answered everything in a single phone call. It took about 15 minutes.
Now papers released under an access to information request show the Byzantine world of how federal departments respond to even the simplest request for information with second-guessing and internal strategy, but few answers.
First, the study:
NASA wanted to get a better understanding of snowstorms. Conventional radar shows where snow is falling but has trouble measuring the quantity.
So NASA teamed up with Environment Canada, the NRC and several universities to fly through and over falling snow in southern Ontario this winter. It used specialized equipment to analyse falling snow in different weather conditions.
We phoned a NASA scientist who happily described the project. It’s a good story: an offbeat look at the mysteries that winter still holds.
But it’s also a Canadian story, so the Citizen wanted to know more about Canada’s role. Why should Americans get all the credit?
Environment Canada wouldn’t talk because their expert was out of the office. We held the story for a day, and early the next morning we phoned the other federal participant, NRC. It supplied one of the aircraft, loaded with scientific gear.
We asked for an interview. That’s when the media relations machinery kicked into gear.
• First, an analyst labels the article’s expected tone as “positive/informative” and suggests agreeing to an interview.
• But the director general of NRC’s communications and corporate relations branch kills that idea via email: “I am not convinced we need an interview. A few lines on our involvement are fine. Let me see them first.”
• The department emails the Citizen and promises an answer by 1 p.m.
• Senior officials approve release of a drawing showing where W- and X-band radar and other instruments are mounted on a Convair. This is a long way from the hoped-for interview, which would have asked questions along the lines of: Why do you want to study snow?
• The department mulls the wording of its message. For example: That the NRC “has been conducting airborne atmospheric research projects for more than 20 years in collaboration with universities, government, and other scientific organizations,” and that it participated in “NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement Cold Season Precipitation Experiment (GCPEx) snow study over Ontario, Canada.” Funding came from the Canadian Space Agency.
There’s additional material on wide areas of research activities for the aircraft. A staffer promises to “trim these down a bit and send to the journo.”
• After 2 p.m., and still no interview. A staffer suggests that the Citizen story will be “for laymen.” As such, he suggests this explanatory material: “NRC was to collect and analyse unique ground and airborne in-situ and radar datasets that will be used to characterize the radar signatures of glaciated and mixed-phase clouds.”
• The department shortens its “lines” to say very little. The nine-sentence message now adds up the number of flights, number of instruments, and number of government partners. Curiously, there’s no explanation of what aspect of snow they were studying.
As staff debate two potential written responses, the marketing manager for the NRC’s Institute for Aerospace Research wonders whether they shouldn’t just talk to the reporter. “The story then becomes more about us (and our Canadian partners) rather than NASA.”
• The newly released papers don’t show a response to his suggestion, but no interview is ever granted. The media lines go out, now shortened to seven snow-free sentences and an aircraft drawing, and well after the Citizen’s story is substantially written.
The finished article mentions NRC’s involvement as a courtesy, but can say little beyond that. NASA has talked with enthusiasm about the joy of studying snow and its mysteries. NRC has sent an email describing the number of pieces of equipment on an airplane.
A plaintive little note circulates within NRC the next day: “NRC is mentioned only in the last para (i.e. paragraph of the article), but with no mention of our science contribution.”
That’s all right, a staffer commented, because the newspaper never really wanted information on NRC anyway.
- Canadaian bureaucracy and a joint study with NASA (canada.com)
- Canadian Bureacracy Can’t Answer Simple Question: What’s This Study With NASA? (news.slashdot.org)
- A behind-the-scenes look at a federal scientist ‘muzzling’ incident (cbc.ca)
- How Blizzards Form (tech-faq.com)
- NASA’s latest manned mission is destination … central Ontario (news.nationalpost.com)
- House Panel Wants NASA to Plan Mars Sample Return (news.sciencemag.org)
- NASA to Fly Above Canada Snowstorms (livescience.com)
- NASA to Fly Above Canada Snowstorms (space.com)
- NASA to study Ontario’s falling snow from space (cbc.ca)
- NASA’s Snowstorm Mission Wraps Up (space.com)