Privacy watchdog wants Ont. police to stop sharing suicide attempts with U.S.

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TORONTO - Ontario's privacy watchdog wants Toronto police to stop the routine disclosure of attempted suicides to an RCMP database that is shared with U.S. border officials.

Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian says she was prompted to start an investigation after hearing about Ontario residents being denied entry to the United States on the basis of their mental health history.

Cavoukian says she was unnerved by the humiliation and embarrassment felt by the people who were told by American border guards that they couldn't enter the U.S. because of a suicide attempt.

Her office ruled out the possibility the information was being disclosed by the Ministry of Health and focused on the personal information collected by police after someone attempts suicide.

Cavoukian says the information is then loaded into the Canadian Police Information Centre database, which is available to U.S. border guards through a co-operation agreement between the RCMP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

She says there is no legal requirement that suicide attempts be entered into the CPIC database although it is the policy of the Toronto Police Service.

Cavoukian says other forces her office contacted in Ottawa, Hamilton, Waterloo and the OPP, all exercise "some degree of discretion" and upload some suicide attempts to the database but not all.

Organizations: RCMP, Canadian Police Information Centre, Ministry of Health Federal Bureau of Investigation Toronto Police Service

Geographic location: United States, TORONTO, Ontario Ottawa Waterloo

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