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Canada, U.S. sign visa info sharing agreement

Info on those who want to visit, study or work in Canada could be shared

OTTAWA – A newly signed agreement says the United States will be allowed to share biometric information about visa applicants to Canada with third countries.

It means the fingerprints and photo of someone who hopes to visit, study or work in Canada could be passed to Washington, which in turn might share them with another country to help verify the person’s identity.

The federal privacy commissioner’s office has raised concerns that such personal information provided by Canada could end up in countries that have a poor human rights record, endangering the applicant or their family.

At a ceremony to sign the information-sharing agreement, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and U.S. ambassador David Jacobson stressed that the information would be handled with due regard for privacy.

The initiative, which affects nationals of 29 countries seeking visas, is part of a perimeter security deal reached last year between Canada and the United States.

The idea is to strengthen continental security while speeding the passage of goods and people across the 49th parallel.

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