Privacy complaint shuts down “Border Security”

Canada's Privacy Commissioner has advised Canada Border Services Agency to no longer participate in the unscripted program.
June 14, 2016

Force Four’s docuseries Border Security: Canada’s Front Line won’t return for a fourth season.

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien recommended that Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) end its participation in the program, which follows officers of the CBSA, after it found that the agency was not in compliance with the federal Privacy Act. According to the Commissioner’s report, the CBSA has agreed to do so.

In 2013, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) filed a complaint against the CBSA on behalf of Oscar Mata Duran, a construction worker who was filmed by Force Four that year when the site he was working on was raided by the CBSA.

While Mata Duran did sign a form consenting to be videotaped, the Commissioner found that, due to the circumstances in which the filming occurred, his consent was not full and informed, as required by the Act.

“What the privacy commissioner said was that the consent that CBSA was relying on to justify the disclosure of people’s private information was grossly insufficient,” Laura Track, counsel for the BCCLA said in an interview with realscreen sister publication Playback Daily. “People facing detention or facing the prospect of deportation are not likely to be in the best frame of mind to provide informed and free consent.”

Force Four Entertainment offered the following statement to Playback regarding the series’ end.

“Force Four Entertainment is currently reviewing the Findings of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner regarding the Canada Border Services Agency’s participation in the television series Border Security: Canada’s Front Line. Since the inception of the television series, we have been vigilant in ensuring that we not only comply with all applicable legal duties and obligations, but that we also uphold the highest moral and ethical standards in relation to the travelling public and the CBSA officers who have participated in the production of the 65 episodes of the series to date. While we are no longer in production on the series, Force Four Entertainment continues to be very proud of Border Security: Canada’s Front Line.”

Border Security: Canada’s Front Line aired on Global in Canada and the National Geographic Channel.

(From Playback Daily)

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.