Regulations for Automated Biometric-based Information Sharing with Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has a longstanding cooperative partnership with counterpart organizations in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Privacy Impact Assessment report examined privacy risks related to enabling regulations for automated, biometric-based information exchange with Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The regulations in question can be found in Division 3 of Part 19.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, beginning at Section 315.36. (Regulations for a similar capability with the United States were already established in 2015.)

The PIA report noted potential privacy risks related to disclosure, over-collection and informed consent, for which mitigation strategies were identified and implemented.

In particular, the system used for biometric exchange will automatically generate a ‘no match’ when a query hits against the record of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. For refugee cases, a response will be sent on permanent residents, if applicable.

Information collection via queries is also limited to that which is necessary, relevant and proportionate to achieving the purposes of the regulations and cannot occur “just in case”.

Disclosure notices inform clients that personal information, including immigration information related to biometric records, may be shared with foreign governments with whom Canada has an agreement or arrangement. Agreements and arrangements are also available to the public via the Department’s website.

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