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Ottawa Airport Wired For Sound

Security Officials Able To Listen In On Passengers', Other Conversations

International passengers arriving at the Ottawa Airport will soon be subject not only to video surveillance, but also to enhanced audio monitoring of their conversations. The Canada Border Services Agency has nearly completed an upgrade of the video monitoring system in some areas of the Ottawa Airport, including the primary inspection area for arriving international passengers. And the upgrades include new microphones designed to pick up individual conversations in the area.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that the installation of as many as 88 new high-definition video cameras will be completed this summer. CBSA spokesman Chris Kealey said in a written statement that while the audio equipment will be installed, "it is important to note that ... no audio is recorded at this time. It will become functional at a later date."

In a separate statement, the agency said that the plan is to have conversations recorded.

The CBSA says it will post signs in areas where conversations may be recorded directing passengers to a "privacy notice" on the agency's website. The union representing the CBSA employees who work in that area has already expressed concerns about workplace conversations being recorded and becoming part of an employee's record.

The CBSA already has audio and video recording programs in place at other unidentified sites at airports and border crossings. The agency says the technology can potentially be used in an effort to fight organized crime and smuggling rings at major Canadian airports.

FMI: www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/menu-eng.html

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