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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Santa security beefed up as Christmas nears. Civil liberties group opposed to “intrusive” surveillance of travellers

As Christmas gets closer, the Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has put the finishing touches on plans to track and escort Santa Claus when he visits Canada by naming four CF-18 fighter pilots as his official escorts.

The Department of National Defence announced today that Major Kirk Soroka and Captain Dan Walters of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, and Captain Benoît Bouchard and Captain Matthew Maurice of 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, will take on the responsibility of “welcoming Santa” when he arrives in Canada on his annual Christmas Eve journey, and “escorting him safely” through Canadian airspace.

Special NORAD SantaCams, positioned around the world, will take photos and video of Santa and his sleigh as he journeys around the world. The SantaCams instantly download the photo and video imagery so that it may be viewed by children worldwide on the NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, on December 24. All of this information will be available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Chinese.

Critics of the plan say a coordinated global surveillance strategy to track Santa not only violates his civil rights but could present a privacy threat to all Canadians.

"Perversely, the Canadian government is using Christmas as an excuse for developing an even more intrusive system of traveller surveillance that now includes routine background checks and security rankings for every single traveller. Not only is Canada preparing to violate the civil rights of Santa Claus, a beloved international figure, but we appear to be spending millions to create the technological infrastructure to follow the U.S. into an unprecedented system of mass traveller surveillance," said British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) president Jason Gratl.

There are unconfirmed reports that senior security advisors within NORAD wanted Santa added to the “No-Fly” list for suspicious travel to terrorist hot spots including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Syria, but settled on the compromise to put Santa under military surveillance after his “international gift delivery” story checked out.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on December 11, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-12-11 3:06:12 PM

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