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It Is Law That I Have To Tell CBSA Agents My Cellphone & Laptop Password?

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officer, my smartphone's password is F***_YOU, all upper case and an underscore.

It works, try it.
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cwb27 wrote:
Mar 5th, 2015 1:22 pm

When you cross the border into Canada you have a legal requirement to share your information.
interesting, where did you find this info?
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longitude wrote:
Mar 5th, 2015 3:41 pm
interesting, where did you find this info?
Off the top of my head the Customs Act of Canada states this in 2 ways:
- That you must answer all questions asked by a BSO truthfully.
- That BSOs may search all person, goods and conveyance entering Canada, had access to a CBSA controlled area or have entered Canada within a reasonable time. The courts have already established that electronic devices & documents qualify as "goods". Failing to handover a password can be interpreted as refusing to a search of your goods.
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cwb27 wrote:
Mar 5th, 2015 1:22 pm
When you cross the border into Canada you have a legal requirement to share your information. The courts will now decide if your passwords are included in that.
Presumably you mean information you're carrying with you, e.g. papers, or that are stored in a device you're carrying, e.g. a phone.

But what if you stored that information in an encrypted file out on the cloud with no copy stored on the device you're bringing into Canada? The information might already be in Canada (the server is located in Canada) or may not have entered the country (the server is located outside of Canada.) On what basis could CBSA compel you to divulge the decryption password in those sorts of situations?
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[quote="cwb27" post_id="21809715" time="1425584145" user_id="44850"]Yes, but what the courts will determine here is if a person can be found guilty of a Customs Act offense for failing to turn over their password. This is the first of its kind and will most likely set the precedent and become a key piece of CBSA case law.[/QUOTe]

You won't be found guilty because there's a means to get the information on you're phone. Imo
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cwb27 wrote:
Mar 5th, 2015 3:49 pm
Off the top of my head the Customs Act of Canada states this in 2 ways:
- That you must answer all questions asked by a BSO truthfully.
- That BSOs may search all person, goods and conveyance entering Canada, had access to a CBSA controlled area or have entered Canada within a reasonable time. The courts have already established that electronic devices & documents qualify as "goods". Failing to handover a password can be interpreted as refusing to a search of your goods.
ok, got it.

answering NO to a password request is very truthful... :)
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Alain Philippon phone password case: Powers of border agents and police differ [QUOTE]"If a police officer stops me on the street and says 'Empty out your bag' for no good reason [and] they don't allege I've committed an offence, that's patently illegal," said Benjamin Berger, an associate professor at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. "And yet I habitually do it when I take an airplane. Why? Because no one has forced me to go to the airport."...

"The principal difference between borders … and our day-to-day interactions with police is the voluntary engagement with a border," Berger said. "Because we have at some level chosen to attempt to cross a border, it's in a sense, us who has engaged our liberties, not the police having inserted themselves into our lives."[/QUOTE]
But that conflicts with Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that gives us "the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure."
[QUOTE]“When people are crossing the border, courts have long accepted that we have a reduced expectation of privacy," said Josh Paterson, executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association. "Custom agents are able to search our bags, are able to search our goods, see if we’re bringing things back over the limit if we have contraband, weaponry, these kinds of things "When it comes to searching smartphones, though, it’s really kind of a different thing, because this isn’t just a bag that is carrying some socks or some samples for your business. Smartphones are really a window to a great deal of personal information about you."

Currently, in Canada, the law doesn’t treat cellphones and smartphones at the border differently from other kinds of goods, Paterson said. "And we think that’s problematic."...

"There should be some strict standards set up around the kind of searches of smartphones and computers that CBSA officials are allowed to do at the border when they don’t have individualized suspicion about someone. Having the ability to just go on a searching spree through your personal records, through your financial records, through your emails, is problematic if they don’t have any reason to suspect that you're transporting contraband, that you're somehow otherwise involved in illegal activity."[/QUOTE]
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bylo wrote:
Mar 6th, 2015 11:21 am
Alain Philippon phone password case: Powers of border agents and police differ
But that conflicts with Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that gives us "the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure."
Yes, but the SCoC has ruled in several cases that that searches at border crossing are reasonable and justifiable. "You are choosing to cross an international border, you should expect to have less privacy" is generally what is said.

Truth be told, you can find just as much personal information about someone searching through their paperwork, looking at their photographs or viewing VHS tapes/DVDs.
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cwb27 wrote:
Mar 6th, 2015 11:40 am
Yes, but the SCoC has ruled in several cases that that searches at border crossing are reasonable and justifiable. "You are choosing to cross an international border, you should expect to have less privacy" is generally what is said.
"Less privacy" doesn't necessarily mean "zero privacy." I think what the law professors in the CBC article are calling for are some criteria and controls over what CBSA can search for, IOW something other than the returning citizen has zero rights and zero privacy at the border.

BTW any comment to the question I raised upthread in law-i-have-tell-cbsa-agents-my-cellphon ... st21810701 ?

Along the same lines, if a CBSA agent found a bookmark or app on my phone to an online banking site would they be able to compel me to provide the password to access it? Note again that the data is stored on the bank's server, not my phone.
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Lets say you happen to be a contractor for a government entity or some level of government, they give you a work issue phone and laptop. 100% sure the policy for them is to never give out your password.

Would the privacy arm (their clerks and their lawyers) come and defend you if they were to charge you? Or lets say you were working on a secret project that was part of national security and giving out that said password would have you charged under treason... how would that play out?
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bylo wrote:
Mar 6th, 2015 11:56 am
"Less privacy" doesn't necessarily mean "zero privacy." I think what the law professors in the CBC article are calling for are some criteria and controls over what CBSA can search for, IOW something other than the returning citizen has zero rights and zero privacy at the border.

BTW any comment to the question I raised upthread in law-i-have-tell-cbsa-agents-my-cellphon ... st21810701 ?

Along the same lines, if a CBSA agent found a bookmark or app on my phone to an online banking site would they be able to compel me to provide the password to access it? Note again that the data is stored on the bank's server, not my phone.
You're right, less doesn't mean zero, but it's going to be up to the courts to decide what less means in the case of handing over passwords. The courts have already decided what "less" means for persons, goods and conveyance.

I'm quite happy this is going before the courts, a clear answer needs to be given on making password demands and what the consequences are failing to comply.


In terms of your question in that post, you need to realize that every situation is handled differently. For example, if the officer suspects you're trying to smuggle goods into the country (i.e. by false declaration) or perhaps believe you are in possession/control of child pornography they may make demands for password to cloud accounts to search for evidence, but in both of these examples there would have to be clear indicators to escalate the search. I HIGHLY doubt demands for cloud storage account access would be during a random or simple declaration validation search. Now, this being said, during my CBSA days I saw on numerous occasions how a very innocuous referal could turn into a very serious situation (whether it be finding a firearm or suspect child porn).


Now for your bank account bookmark, again, it really depends on the situation.

Where the data is stored is really not in question, the question really centres more around what do you, the traveller, have & have access to at the time you are presenting yourself for inspection at a border crossing.
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tebore wrote:
Mar 6th, 2015 12:15 pm
Lets say you happen to be a contractor for a government entity or some level of government, they give you a work issue phone and laptop. 100% sure the policy for them is to never give out your password.

Would the privacy arm (their clerks and their lawyers) come and defend you if they were to charge you? Or lets say you were working on a secret project that was part of national security and giving out that said password would have you charged under treason... how would that play out?
Don't let your imagination get carried away here. CSIS/CSEC people & contractors are definitely not dumb enough to travel with this sort of stuff on their person (infact they are usually given lots of instruction on how to travel).

Lots of government employees also travel with a diplomatic passport WITH a diplomatic card so they and their diplomatic goods are not subject to search.

Pretty sure I remember a military shipment for JTF2 coming through onetime on a transport truck, it was a diplomatic load and could not be searched (not that it needed to be) but the paperwork had to be validated.
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cwb27 wrote:
Mar 6th, 2015 12:26 pm
Don't let your imagination get carried away here. CSIS/CSEC people & contractors are definitely not dumb enough to travel with this sort of stuff on their person (infact they are usually given lots of instruction on how to travel).

Lots of government employees also travel with a diplomatic passport WITH a diplomatic card so they and their diplomatic goods are not subject to search.

Pretty sure I remember a military shipment for JTF2 coming through onetime on a transport truck, it was a diplomatic load and could not be searched (not that it needed to be) but the paperwork had to be validated.
The last scenario I've never experience and was having some fun.
But I imagine yes these people would have immunity like you describe. But for the layman paper pusher gov official would the privacy department still go to bat for you? Say you went to a developer conference.
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cwb27 wrote:
Mar 5th, 2015 2:35 pm
Yes, but what the courts will determine here is if a person can be found guilty of a Customs Act offense for failing to turn over their password. This is the first of its kind and will most likely set the precedent and become a key piece of CBSA case law.
I think this is crazy. I have a ton of passwords to remember and am notorious for forgetting my Blackberry password my IT department will attest to that I am quite sure they laugh at me every time I come begging for help. I blank out on other passwords every once in awhile. To think I would be in trouble for forgetting my password, fine I'll put it in 10 times wrong and cause a data wipe. Have had that happen many, many times, doesn't bother me anymore.
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JACKIE26 wrote:
Mar 6th, 2015 5:55 pm
I think this is crazy. I have a ton of passwords to remember and am notorious for forgetting my Blackberry password my IT department will attest to that I am quite sure they laugh at me every time I come begging for help. I blank out on other passwords every once in awhile. To think I would be in trouble for forgetting my password, fine I'll put it in 10 times wrong and cause a data wipe. Have had that happen many, many times, doesn't bother me anymore.
I get what you're saying, but to be totally honest (and I'm not trying to sound like a jerk), but when you cross an international border you have a responsibility to be aware of all goods in your possession, this includes passwords.
I Declare - The official guide to your Customs exemptions and item restrictions when returning to Canada from abroad.

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