12 Feb 2008

Nexus : Save time but at what cost?


Last Saturday, the French newspaper La Presse published an article about the Nexus program. The article, written by Jean-Philippe Brunet from Ogilvy Renault, highlights the advantages of the program; in particular, its capacity to save travelers some time.

Nexus

The program is an agreement between Canada and the United States to share voluntarily given personal information to produce an identity card that makes the process of crossing the border less of a hassle.

To participate, you simply have to fill out a form that asks for all your addresses, your employment history from the last 5 years, $50 in administration fees and copies of your passport, your driver’s licence (front and back), and your birth certificate. Once the form is filled and signed, it is then evaluated by both countries that decide if you make it to the next (heavy duty) step – an interview where you will be fingerprinted and have your iris scanned. Pass this test and you’ll receive your Nexus Card that will enable you to “go home earlier and spend time with your family or catch up on your sleep”.

The Issue

In Canada, your personal information is yours and the government has to ask you permission to share that information with a third party. Not so in the U.S. In fact, the minute you sign that form, you are authorizing the U.S. government, under section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, to obtain any document or personal information under terrorist claims without your consent or knowledge and to share that information with whomever they chose. (The Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia has published a report on Privacy and the PATRIOT Act as well.)

It’s for you to decide: catch up on your sleep, or have peace of mind knowing your personal information is safe and not shared with anybody.


3 Responses

Chester Burton Brown Says:

The details of Maher Arar’s story have inspired a certain trepidation on my part with regard to sharing information with American authorities.

In the pre-9/11 world my trust for American agencies was higher, and I would have been more likely to think that in the unlikely event that there were a miscarriage of justice, due process would sort it all out in the end.

I no longer have that sort of confidence (or naivete, depending on your point of view).

Yours,
Chester Burton Brown
http://cheeseburgerbrown.com

A.E. Jastrebske Says:

I have my own version of an “Arar” story, based on now several repetitions of being declined entry at U.S. border crossings for reasons that remain obscure to me.
I am a disabled “senior”, who set up a snowbird base in the SW U.S. circa 2000. This was with the full knowledge of U.S. border crossing people and local customs in the area of my U.S. base. My background is professional, and I have no criminal history nor any association with anything that would relate to “terrorism” or any other actions contrary to U.S. interests.

However, following a “forced” return to Canada from Minneapolis-St. Paul airport on Oct. 2, 2006, for reasons that were and remain unclear, I now have not been permitted to return to my U.S. snowbird base by car, and have had major “secondary inspection” hassles with simple in-transit status on international flights on two occasions.

The U.S. climate purporting to be “land of the free”, etc. is NOT that at this point! There is a paranoia, partly whipped up by the media, of everyone who might come wanting to be an “illegal immigrant”, and hues and cries about “protecting our borders” despite the socio-political trends in opposite directions. e.g.the super-highway being built between Lorado on the Mexican border and somewhere within Manitoba, the continued talks between Bush, Calderon and Harper about facilitation of trade and “security” arrangements, the plans for the “amero” currency, etc.
The schizophrenic split between upper level discussions and day to day Customs Border “Protection” functioning is almost surreal to someone as myself who watched this development all within a short time frame of a few years.

My recommendation? DO NOT travel to the U.S. now unless really necessary, unless of course you like long “processing” and related hassles. Recession is being opening admitted now in many U.S. quarters. Maybe the decline in border trade and tourism for even a short while might prompt some rethinking of this post-McCartheism.

Seeking Another Alien Shore » Sign in blood, please Says:

[…] According to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, all you have to do is, …fill out a form that asks for all your addresses, your employment history from the last 5 years, $50 in administration fees and copies of your passport, your driver’s licence (front and back), and your birth certificate. Once the form is filled and signed, it is then evaluated by both countries that decide if you make it to the next (heavy duty) step – an interview where you will be fingerprinted and have your iris scanned. Pass this test and you’ll receive your Nexus Card… […]

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