cell phones at the border

OpenMedia r1

Paov, cell phone and laptop searches at the border have been back in the headlines since I was last in touch with you.

Toronto business lawyer Nick Wright was pulled aside by border agents at Pearson airport, who searched his luggage, then demanded the passwords to his phone and laptop. The agents gave... him no reason for suspicion or rationale for wanting to examine his devices. 1,2

Wright refused because both devices contained confidential information protected by solicitor-client privilege. The devices were seized, and now, over one month on, he has yet to have his devices returned.

His case highlights a long-standing problem with the rules that govern these types of searches: they were created decades ago to govern searches of physical items like suitcases, and are now being applied to the highly private information on modern digital devices.

Over 15,000 people have now signed a call for these laws to be updated. Will you add your name too?


Here’s how our laws need to be changed:

  • Searches of electronic devices should have a dedicated legal basis that is distinct from searches of other types of goods.
  • Searches of electronic devices should require reasonable grounds to believe that there is a contravention.
  • No more discretionary CBSA policies: we need clear, transparent policies, and mechanisms for recourse.

Our new website, borderprivacy.ca, has a complete guide to your rights as well as information about how to file a complaint. And most importantly, you can join the campaign with thousands of others to demand these long-overdue updates to our laws!

Thanks for everything you do,

Victoria with OpenMedia

[1] Canada Border Services seizes lawyer's phone, laptop for not sharing passwords:
[2] Canada Border Services Agency officers confiscate lawyer's phone and laptop after he refuses to give up passwords:
Georgia Straight


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