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

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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'm no cop, but if you're carrying an active cell that you don't know the password to, wouldn't that in itself be reasonable grounds/suspicion?
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dokechi wrote:
Mar 6th, 2015 9:23 pm
I'm no cop, but if you're carrying an active cell that you don't know the password to, wouldn't that in itself be reasonable grounds/suspicion?
Speaking as a former BSO, it is certainly an indicator and may heighten the level of the examination.
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^ That doesn't say it's law, it says it's untested. Yes they went ahead with charges, but a judge may very well slap them on the hand for doing that. My hunch is that they don't really want it tested in a high court, because if it's not upheld, that will set legal precedent.
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They've went forward with charges.. They want it tested. This will more likely move all the way to the supreme court. As unlikely as some may believe many (actually all) law enforcement agencies want to work within the confines of the law. And regardless "smart" criminals aren't leaving info on their phones anyways. If they are, they deserve to get caught.
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Poutinesauce wrote:
Mar 7th, 2015 8:33 am
We should all be thankful toward Alain, because he fought back those border agents won't be able to get away with this anymore.
The case hasn't even gone to court yet, so I have no clue why you think he's won some big victory for the rest of us.
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Syne wrote:
Mar 7th, 2015 1:07 am
^ That doesn't say it's law, it says it's untested. Yes they went ahead with charges, but a judge may very well slap them on the hand for doing that. My hunch is that they don't really want it tested in a high court, because if it's not upheld, that will set legal precedent.
A lower court may side with the traveller, however I'm pretty confident that the Supreme Court of Canada would overturn and side with the CBSA. If you look at previous Customs case law the SCoC tends to recognize the need for greater vigilance over one's right to privacy as granted under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and has overturned verdicts from a lower court.

As said earlier though, I'm happy this is happening, the courts need to decide how the CBSA goes about making password demands.

I firmly believe they won't be prohibited from demanding passwords but their may need to be a process behind it, whether that be a review by a senior officer or the person is put under detention (similar to the process used for a personal (strip) search).
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The CBSA might even put a red flag on OP, which would mean more inspection and harassment every time he crosses the border. If they could search a person's vehicle upside down, they have every right to inspection all the goods you carry be it toys, or any other electronic device.
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Jun 3, 2013
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There is no doubt that the CBSA will win this unfortunately. They have the right to inspect your items. Can you tell them they can't search your car because you lost the keys and the door is locked. No chance.

All I say is make sure you are with them as they inspect your items. Some screwed up agent throws a gun in your car or fake photos onto your phone. Then what? Be there as they do.

But I think there should be a warrant for a phone or laptop. I have lots of personal info - finances, passwords, email, photos, etc. They do not need to search for this information.
cwb27 wrote:
Mar 7th, 2015 10:46 am
A lower court may side with the traveller, however I'm pretty confident that the Supreme Court of Canada would overturn and side with the CBSA. If you look at previous Customs case law the SCoC tends to recognize the need for greater vigilance over one's right to privacy as granted under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and has overturned verdicts from a lower court.

As said earlier though, I'm happy this is happening, the courts need to decide how the CBSA goes about making password demands.

I firmly believe they won't be prohibited from demanding passwords but their may need to be a process behind it, whether that be a review by a senior officer or the person is put under detention (similar to the process used for a personal (strip) search).
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Chopras wrote:
Mar 7th, 2015 11:21 am
There is no doubt that the CBSA will win this unfortunately. They have the right to inspect your items. Can you tell them they can't search your car because you lost the keys and the door is locked. No chance.

All I say is make sure you are with them as they inspect your items. Some screwed up agent throws a gun in your car or fake photos onto your phone. Then what? Be there as they do.

But I think there should be a warrant for a phone or laptop. I have lots of personal info - finances, passwords, email, photos, etc. They do not need to search for this information.
Blame the people who have criminal finances, communicate via Email for illegal activity, or have pornographic images of children on their phones.

Personally when I cross an international boundary, I expect to be searched and as such don't have anything with me that I don't want to be seen by a BSO should that occur. My attitude is if people don't want something to be inspected by a BSO, then don't take it with you, or don't cross the international boundary. Problem solved.
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Chopras wrote:
Mar 7th, 2015 11:21 am
Can you tell them they can't search your car because you lost the keys and the door is locked. No chance.
They can't compel you to produce the key. They can however force the door open and they will always succeed.

But in the case of a smartphone if they don't compel you to divulge the key, they can only try to guess/crack it. If you used strong passwords and encryption they may not succeed.

That's what will go before the courts, i.e. can they compel you, on pain of hefty fines and maybe jail, to divulge the key?
All I say is make sure you are with them as they inspect your items. Some screwed up agent throws a gun in your car or fake photos onto your phone. Then what? Be there as they do.
As I understand it they can clone your hard disk or other storage, return the device and send you on your way. It could be days or weeks before they look at the data and determine that you've got contraband. Good luck maintaining a chain of custody.
But I think there should be a warrant for a phone or laptop. I have lots of personal info - finances, passwords, email, photos, etc. They do not need to search for this information.
Read upthread. The Supremes have ruled against you about the warrant. This broad power that CBSA now has applies even to lawyers who want to claim client-solicitor privilege. See e.g. No privilege at the border. This also provides a good summary of related issues.

The current story is only about whether CBSA has the right to compel you to divulge your password.
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Even though I have nothing to hide it doesn't mean it's ok for people to just search through it without my consent. Do you want your neighbours going through your financial statements and health records because you are an honest person. I don't.

We have rights for a reason. You can't just assume everyone is a criminal and only criminals want to keep things private. I travel for work and need a cell phone. So don't bring it with me because I don't want it inspected?

Isn't it better that BSO and indivuals have clear guidelines to what is acceptable in a search and what is not. If the law says give them your cell phone password - then I will reconsider. Maybe delete everything before I travel and load it back when I return.
ALLCAPS wrote:
Mar 7th, 2015 11:25 am
Blame the people who have criminal finances, communicate via Email for illegal activity, or have pornographic images of children on their phones.

Personally when I cross an international boundary, I expect to be searched and as such don't have anything with me that I don't want to be seen by a BSO should that occur. My attitude is if people don't want something to be inspected by a BSO, then don't take it with you, or don't cross the international boundary. Problem solved.
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ALLCAPS wrote:
Mar 7th, 2015 11:25 am
Blame the people who have criminal finances, communicate via Email for illegal activity, or have pornographic images of children on their phones.

Personally when I cross an international boundary, I expect to be searched and as such don't have anything with me that I don't want to be seen by a BSO should that occur. My attitude is if people don't want something to be inspected by a BSO, then don't take it with you, or don't cross the international boundary. Problem solved.
That worked 10 years ago, but these days, my phone is tied to every aspect of my life. Internet banking, online storage of photos (every photo I've taken in the last 3 years is in Google Photos), any e-mail I've sent or received, my facebook account, text messages, etc. The CBSA officers aren't just inspecting my phone, they are literally searching every aspect of my life, because it can all be accessed through my phone. My internet banking requires a password, are they going to demand that next? What about my facebook account, even if I disable automatic login via my phone, are they going to demand access to that too? What about if I password protect my e-mail, do I have to give them that password too?

The laws are outdated. Before smart phones were invented, CBSA officers had no right to search your e-mails and banking. Suddenly just because my phone is tied to that stuff, they have the right to search it? I'm not carrying my e-mails or bank statements over the border with me, those things are secured on a server elsewhere, and I see no reason why CBSA should have unrestricted access to that stuff. The idea behind these laws was to prevent the smuggling of goods through the border. The laws haven't been updated to reflect smart phones, and it's about time it happened.

Sadly, I doubt much will change, even if the SCC does hear the case. The whole thing is nothing but a fishing expedition by CBSA officers

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