Canada postpones airport audio snooping

OTTAWA, June 19 (UPI) -- Canada's Conservative government postponed plans Tuesday to electronically eavesdrop on conversations at airports based on ethics and rights concerns.

News of the plan by the Canada Border Services Agency to gather audio as well as video of travelers and airport staff at Ottawa's international airport led to repeated Opposition demands in Parliament for an accounting of the impact on rights, the Ottawa Citizen reported.


Both the federal privacy commissioner and her Ontario provincial counterpart have also criticized the plan for its potential for abuse.

In response, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews issued a statement Tuesday saying the plans were being frozen for now.

"We have heard concerns from Canadians regarding the privacy impact of this practice," spokeswoman Julie Carmichael wrote. "Minister Toews has directed the CBSA to halt audio monitoring until a privacy impact assessment can be submitted, and recommendations from the privacy commissioner can be reviewed by the government."

There are already microphones installed at the Ottawa airport, but they aren't being used, security officials said.

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