Privacy Commissioner Warns Ottawa's Proposed No-Fly List Could Breach Rights

OTTAWA (CP) -- Ottawa's plans to create a no-fly list of airline passengers who might be security threats could breach Canadians' rights to privacy and freedom of movement, warns a national watchdog.

Federal Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says that despite promises that she would be consulted on safeguards for a no-fly list, her office still hasn't been briefed on the new plans announced last week by the federal transport minister.

''The no-fly list announced last Friday represents a serious incursion into the rights of travellers in Canada, rights of privacy and rights of freedom of movement,'' Stoddart said in a statement Tuesday.

Last Friday, Transport Minister Jean Lapierre said Canada will create its own version of a no-fly list of people who pose ''an immediate threat to aviation security.''

The list, likely to contain about 1,000 names, will be developed in consultation with the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and should be ready next year, added Lapierre.

He insisted the new program, called Passenger Protect, would respect Canadians' rights under the Constitution but he wouldn't spell out just what criteria would be used to make up the list.

Critics immediately condemned the effort as too little, too late.

Washington, for example, has operated a no-fly list since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Stoddart said she'll press hard for any such list to include strong privacy protections, including the right for people to see and ask for corrections.

Over the last year, she said, her office has been raising questions and concerns about such a list with the federal Transport Department.

That's what Canadians want, she added.

Opinion polls by her agency suggest Canadians are worried that a growing ''culture of security in this country and abroad'' could endanger their privacy rights, she said.

But governments can protect both, added Stoddart.

''One value does not necessarily need to be sacrificed in the interest of the other.''

The federal privacy commissioner said she's already organizing her provincial counterparts to develop a national working group to assess privacy risks across Canada.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press