Cablegate: Whti - Ontario's Proposed Enhanced Driver's License Spurs


DE RUEHON #0233 2001959
R 181959Z JUL 08



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: WHTI - Ontario's Proposed Enhanced Driver's License Spurs
Some Local Privacy Concerns

Ref: (A) 07 Toronto 81

Sensitive But Unclassified - Please Protect Accordingly.

1. (U) On July 16, The University of Toronto and Ontario's
Information and Privacy Commission held a public forum on Ontario's
proposed enhanced driver's licenses (EDLs). The forum, which drew
approximately 70 people, featured guest speakers from the Canadian
Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Ontario Ministries of
Transportation, Government Services, and Information and Privacy.
The event was organized to provide the public with information about
the voluntary EDL program, which Ontario hopes can be used as an
alternative to a passport when traveling from Canada to the United
States by land or water. As could be expected, some of the same
privacy concerns were voiced that have been voiced elsewhere
regarding these and other identity documents.

2. (U) Ontario's EDL plan has been in development since early 2007
(ref A) and was initially intended to improve the security of
Ontario's driver's licenses. Ontario has since focused on also
using EDLs to meet the land and water documentary requirements of
the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). The EDL bill is
currently assigned to committee, and is expected to be heard for a
second reading by the Ontario legislature in the fall. Proponents
of the bill argue the EDLs will be beneficial in providing greater
ease to cross-border travel, while reducing congestion. If
approved, Ontario's EDL will not be available until at least 2010.

3. (U) The EDL plan, as originally conceived, would require the
Canadian federal government to provide Ontario with citizenship
information of bearers of EDLs. Speaking at the July 16 event,
however, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's Information and Privacy
Commissioner, said that the Canadian federal government has refused
to provide this information, and instead asked Ontario to create its
own database. Cavoukian said that the creation of this additional
database was unnecessary, and could be a security risk. The EDLs
will also use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags located
inside the cards that will be readable by antennas from a distance
of 10 meters. Cavoukian stated that the RFID tags would be secure,
and that concerns that they could be read by unauthorized persons
were misplaced.

4. (U) A representative from the Council of Canadians, which is a
frequent critic of closer U.S.-Canadian ties, was predictably
opposed to the EDL program. He argued that use of the EDLs would
infringe on Canadians' privacy, would not alleviate terrorism
concerns, and would create additional privacy issues for Canadian

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Privacy concerns about the information in the
EDLs are unlikely to derail the initiative. However, if Ontario is
really unable to obtain Canadian federal government cooperation,
Ontario's ability to work with Homeland Security to obtain approval
for the EDLs to be used as border crossing cards could be delayed
indefinitely. END COMMENT.


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