ARCHIVED - 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games
Don’t sacrifice privacy in Olympic Games security measures, privacy commissioners urge
Privacy Commissioners of Canada and British Columbia have developed a set of principles to guide security officials charged with ensuring that the upcoming 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games are safe for everybody involved.
As the first international ‘mega-event’ to take place in Canada in this post-9/11 era, the Vancouver Winter Games next February and March will pose unprecedented security challenges.
But while keeping athletes and their entourages, visitors, staff and volunteers safe will be of paramount importance, it is crucial that security officials uphold another core Canadian value: Respect for the privacy of individuals and the integrity of their personal information – before, during and after the Games.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, in conjunction with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia, recently launched a special website that explores the preservation of privacy in the context of Olympic security. The site contains links to a range of fact sheets, research, speeches and other sources of information on this very important issue.
“The key will be to integrate privacy and security,” says Chantal Bernier, the Assistant Privacy Commissioner responsible for the public-sector Privacy Act. “These two concepts are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they are mutually reinforcing. And that is the message we are working to convey to security officials at the Olympics.”
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, in conjunction with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia, has been communicating with the Integrated Security Unit responsible for Olympic security, to ensure that surveillance and other security measures do not unduly infringe on the rights of people participating or attending the events.
The privacy concerns of nearby residents are also a concern. For instance, in addition to the 900 closed-circuit TV cameras expected to be deployed at Olympic venues, another 50 to 70 cameras will be set up in urban areas outside the Games perimeter.
Other security measures include background checks of the estimated 100,000 people accredited to access secure zones; electronic intrusion-detection equipment around Olympic venues; and checkpoints to screen people and vehicles that are authorized to enter the Games venues.
The federal and B.C. Privacy Commissioners have drawn up a framework for integrating privacy protections into these measures.
“Our major goals are to promote privacy rights before, during and after the Games; to ensure that security measures infringing on privacy are reasonable and proportionate to the risk, and to hold authorities accountable for putting in place measures that will protect both our security and our privacy rights,” says Assistant Commissioner Bernier.
We have also urged organizers and security officials to remove surveillance systems from public areas after the Games, and to ensure that collected data are erased, destroyed and/or made anonymous, in conformity with federal and provincial laws.