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Border info sharing program raising privacy concerns

WBFO News file photo

The Toronto Star is reporting that by this summer, Washington and Ottawa will be sharing information on people traveling across the border. The report is raising privacy concerns.

The New Canada-U.S. border exchange program will kick in in time for the busy summer vacation period.

The sharing of information means any Canadian crossing to the border by land can have his information passed on to federal departments in Ottawa. The same would be true for Americans traveling back and forth to Canada.

According to the Toronto Star, the Canada Border Services Agency has confirmed the new practice, but says any information would be passed on based on strict rules.

Implementation of the new program has raised concerns about privacy and how the information will be used. Privacy advocates fear it could be a blank check for the government and could also be used to enforce immigration, residency and citizenship laws, possibly even for health care and taxation.  

However a spokeswoman for Canada's border services says information would only be used as an enforcement tool for border security and access to the data will be limited and on a need-to-know basis. The agency would not say which departments would have that access.

Up to now, data has been collected on third-country nationals, permanent residents, visitors, foreign students and people with work permits. But by the summer that will be extended to all Americans and Canadians traveling through land border crossings.