The Trudeau government has been working with major Canadian airlines to formally bring in digital ID, facial recognition, and biometric travel documents to air travel by 2023.
According to an article from the Canada Gazette, the government’s outlet, “In accordance with PS’ Forward Regulatory Plan 2021–2023, the need to update the [Secure Air Travel Regulations] to offer more options to travellers and the industry to meet pre-aircraft boarding identity verification requirements through innovation was also considered during the stakeholder consultation exercises.”
“This includes digitized identification documents, digital identity documents and biometric travel documents. While four air carriers confirmed their intent to implement innovative identity management solutions in the short to medium term, no specific immediate change has been identified for the SATR.”
The government clarifies what they mean by digital identity documents and biometric travel documents towards the bottom of the article:
“For the purpose of this proposal, digitized, digital and biometric documents refer to digital copies of physical identification documents that are scanned or updated, digital identification documents issued by a government authority, and electronic identification documents that use biometric identifiers (such as facial recognition) respectively.”
The proposal has come under the guise of protecting Canada from terrorists by enhancing the Passenger Protect Program (PPP).
According to the government, Canadians could potentially be assigned a Canada Travel Number (CTN) connected to all their personal information that is cross-referenced with Secure Air Travel Act (SATA) lists to determine whether someone poses a national security risk.
They add that establishing a CTN will “prevent delays.”
To confirm a traveller is really the one attached to their CTN digital ID, the government proposes using biometric data collection, including facial recognition, as a possible pre-screening requirement.
The government also proposes further centralizing air travel data by having all data collected by airlines sent directly to the Government of Canada through the Canada Border Service Agency to review.