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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Eye scans at airport for U.S.-bound travellers 

I was contacted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation yesterday to comment on a new inititiave to speed cross-border travel between the US and Canada for "low risk" travellers. New technologies allow pre-screened passengers to skip through customs and immigrations after confirming their identity with an iris scan:

Eye scans at airport for U.S.-bound travellers:

"...The iris scans are voluntary, and no one is compelled to go through a process that critics say is invasive.

But Halifax privacy lawyer David Fraser says increasingly, people are deciding it's worth it.

'Survey after survey says that people are concerned about their privacy, but they really don't put their money where their mouth is,' he says.

'It's easy to tell a pollster that, but when it comes to trading privacy for convenience, people often chose convenience.' ..."

Labels: , , ,

11/30/2004 06:31:00 PM  :: (2 comments)  ::  Backlinks
How are iris scans invasive? Surely iris scanning raises fewer privacy implications than DNA sampling, fingerprinting, voiceprinting, facial recognition, etc., because iris scanning (unless I am missing something) cannot reasonably be used for surreptitious identification or surveillance.

In other words, you KNOW when your iris is being scanned. You don't necessarily know when someone takes a sample of your fingerprints or DNA for testing (like the characters on CSI or Law & Order who will retrieve a suspect's discarded cigarette butt or pop can).

Also, keep in mind that iris scanning is passive, and generally considered non-invasive physically. (Unlike a retinal scan, which involves directing a laser beam into the eye.)

The ideal, from a privacy perspective, would be the right to cross international borders anonymously, without answering anybody's questions, without being subject to search.

That isn't realistic. It is reasonable for countries to demand (at the very least) the name of any person wanting to enter the country. A passport or driver's licence is the usual way of verifying identity, but the problem is that there can be a lot of false positives in comparing a live individual, by sight, to a passport photograph. It is not difficult to fool a border guard by finding someone who looks like you and "borrowing" their passport. An iris scan is a more accurate identifier, without the privacy risks of DNA or fingerprinting.
Here are two links discussing iris recognition technology with reference to privacy implications:

Obviously these are not objective, they are from the web site of a company that makes iris scanning equipment. I would be very interested in seeing a rebuttal to the information on those pages.
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