Canada/U.S. Information Sharing Treaty Summary

Privacy Impact Assessment Summary – The Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada For the Sharing of Visa and Immigration Information, and the draft Arrangement between the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, and the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security of the United States of America concerning Biographic Visa and Immigration Information Sharing

On December 13, 2012 Canada signed a Treaty with the United States of America (U.S.) to enable systematic immigration information sharing between the two countries on third country nationals. The purpose of automating the sharing of immigration and visa information is to broaden both countries joint capability to: identify individuals who seek to enter the perimeter for mala fide purposes and prevent them from travelling to Canada or the U.S.; prevent individuals from assuming different identities between one country and the other; and identify those who have committed serious crimes or violated immigration laws in the other country, in order to enable more informed decisions on visas, admissibility or other immigration benefits.

The Treaty creates a legally binding instrument under international law to govern systematic immigration information sharing on all visa and permit applicants. Two separate implementing arrangements are currently contemplated under the Treaty.The first covers systematic biographic immigration information sharing to be implemented in late 2013, and the second will cover systematic biometric immigration information sharing to be implemented in fall 2014. An addendum Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) will be conducted on the systematic biometric information sharing arrangement prior to its implementation.

Safeguarding Personal Information

A detailed PIA was carried out in early 2013 to ensure that the Treaty and the draft biographic arrangement complied with privacy requirements, including the Privacy Act and related policies.

The Treaty contains legal obligations consistent with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Privacy Act, and the Canada- U.S. Joint Statement of Privacy Principles under the Beyond the Border Action Plan that will govern the sharing of limited personal information, both biographic and biometric (i.e., fingerprints). The Treaty also fully articulates provisions that provide for the protection of personal information consistent with both countries’ respective domestic laws. Specific measures that will be employed to protect privacy include:

  • Ensuring data fields exchanged are limited to the minimum required to ensure match accuracy;
  • Ensuring retention and disposal of information are addressed;
  • Destroying fingerprints once the query process has been completed, regardless of whether or not a match is located (i.e., no new fingerprint database is being created);
  • Ensuring that all fingerprints remain anonymous and cannot be linked to an individual unless a match is detected between countries;
  • Ensuring that individuals subject to immigration information sharing have access to their information and the ability to correct erroneous information;
  • Using encryption and other security tools to protect files that are shared;
  • Requiring robust mechanisms to track and audit immigration information sharing to ensure countries comply with data security and privacy requirements; and,
  • Completing a comprehensive Privacy Impact Assessment and consulting the appropriate organization in each country responsible for oversight of privacy matters.

The PIA Report identified a few privacy risks that will be mitigated or eliminated prior to the implementation of systematic sharing. These privacy risks generally deal with completing documentation such as: developing a Threat and Risk Analysis, documenting security procedures and procedures related to investigating and responding to client requests related to accuracy, redress, and corrections, and updating the relevant Personal Information Banks.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency intend to implement all of the recommendations identified in the PIA Report.  Some mitigation measures are already underway, and all will be complete by the time systematic biographic immigration information sharing begins in late 2013.


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