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Nexus : Save time but at what cost?

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Last Saturday, the French newspaper La Presse published an article about the Nexus program. The article, written by Jean-Philippe Brunet from Ogilvy Renault, highlights the advantages of the program; in particular, its capacity to save travelers some time.


The program is an agreement between Canada and the United States to share voluntarily given personal information to produce an identity card that makes the process of crossing the border less of a hassle.

To participate, you simply have to fill out a form that asks for all your addresses, your employment history from the last 5 years, $50 in administration fees and copies of your passport, your driver’s licence (front and back), and your birth certificate. Once the form is filled and signed, it is then evaluated by both countries that decide if you make it to the next (heavy duty) step – an interview where you will be fingerprinted and have your iris scanned. Pass this test and you’ll receive your Nexus Card that will enable you to “go home earlier and spend time with your family or catch up on your sleep”.

The Issue

In Canada, your personal information is yours and the government has to ask you permission to share that information with a third party. Not so in the U.S. In fact, the minute you sign that form, you are authorizing the U.S. government, under section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, to obtain any document or personal information under terrorist claims without your consent or knowledge and to share that information with whomever they chose. (The Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia has published a report on Privacy and the PATRIOT Act as well.)

It’s for you to decide: catch up on your sleep, or have peace of mind knowing your personal information is safe and not shared with anybody.

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