Canada’s border agency ended its reality TV program Border Security: Canada’s Front Line after Daniel Therrien, the federal privacy commissioner, found that the agency violated rights of a construction worker filmed during a raid in Vancouver in 2013 by not gaining “valid consent” to film the incident around his arrest.
During the agency raid of March 13, 2013 at a construction site, a man was found and questioned by an officer about his identity, immigration status and employment. He was later brought to an immigration detention facility where he says he was presented with a consent form that he did not read but signed out of confusion and fear.
Upon viewing the raw footage from the film crew, the privacy commissioner’s office concluded the entire interaction between the border officer and the man, Oscar Mata Duran, was captured on video before he was advised of the purpose of the filming and the border agency did not get “valid consent” from Duran to film.
In a 26-page report from Privacy Commissioner Therrien, it was concluded that due to the “coercive nature” of being detained by the border agency, those held “may not have a clear frame of mind to provide truly voluntary consent.”
Therrien informed the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which spearheaded a complaint on behalf of Duran, that the Canada Border Services Agency breached the Privacy Act by allowing production company Force Four to film the agency’s examination of the migrant labourer.
Therrien’s office recommended that the Canada Border Services Agency end participation on the show. The commissioner also urged the agency to carry out a formal privacy impact assessment before embarking on any significant future initiatives involving the use of personal information.
The show began airing on the National Geographic Channel in 2012 and ran for three seasons, showcasing encounters between border officers and the public. The unscripted series, based on an Australian series that has been airing since 2004, became National Geographic Channel’s No. 1 series, Barbara Williams, senior vice president, content, Shaw Media once said in a statement.