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

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  • Apr 30th, 2017 2:15 am
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Deal Addict
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Jan 3, 2014
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alpha2omega wrote:
Apr 15th, 2016 2:06 pm
I was more speaking to going out than in, but are you sure about that? I was under the impression they couldn't deny you entry as a citizen but I've heard otherwise since then.
Canadian citizens have a right of entry into Canada, however that extends only to the right to entry after going through appropriate immigration and customs checks. In other words, you can't just arrive at Vancouver airport, refuse to submit to inspection then expect to be able to walk outside and catch the Skytrain home. While you have a right to live, work etc in Canada, you still have to cleared to cross the border.
I'm wondering because what's stopping anyone from saying they are a citizen and trying to enter the country? If they have the "right" CBSA shouldn't be able to stop them, even if they don't have ID.
It's your responsibility to prove your eligibility to enter Canada. You wouldn't be able to board a plane without a passport, so that pretty much eliminates entry at an airport without proof of citizenship. Of course, at one of the land crossings you could just rock on up, but if you can't prove your citizenship, the border guards are quite within their right to refuse entry until you can provide such proof.
My simple understanding of the border has always been it's like an exclusion zone, or limbo where you don't exist as a person because you don't belong anywhere. Once you get past then you're either a visitor or resident.
That's a reasonable summary, not accurate and quite simplistic (which you pretty much said) but it's reasonable. The best example of this is the Peace Arch border crossing in Surrey. There's about 300m where you're between the two border points, with a rocky beach on one side and a park on the other. Essentially you can walk wherever you want within that area, but you can guarantee that you're being watched and if you were to go outside the boundaries of this little "neutral zone" they'd pounce on you pretty darn quickly.
Sure they need "cause" to search you at the border
Actually, the fact you're crossing the border is all the cause they need. They don't need any level of suspicion to search you or your property.
You are not in the US until you are out of Customs and that goes with any country I am aware of.
Actually, once you cross the physical border you are in the country and subject to arrest, search or seizure. You don't have to go through the Customs checkpoint, that's essentially simply when you're free to go wherever you want within the country.
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Apr 18, 2008
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Vancouver
Nowadays a cellphone is comparable to a personal computer. I have my email linked to my phone, pictures, dropbox with all my important files linked to my phone. I can't believe cbsa can just casually look through your phone without a search warrant. Now I have my phone on higher security. There are some apps you can use for protecting your privacy. Not going to name which one. Do your own research.
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Sep 20, 2008
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Kanata
alpha2omega wrote:
Apr 15th, 2016 10:30 pm
This is very true, although I would disagree that they are legally granted the powers. You really give them the power when you choose to cross borders. Their "powers" only exist in that little booth and fenced in yard they inhabit. I know I'm probably splitting hairs telling you this but I think it's an interesting distinction other posters just don't understand and one that gets a lot of people detained at the border. But yah, apples and oranges for sure.
There powers are given through the customs and immigration act. Which is a legal act, given by the federal government. Thy powers are "activated" when you attempt to enter the country, and in some case leave the country I believe.
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tangerinebarbiegirl wrote:
Apr 14th, 2016 9:21 am
its the wild wild west when it comes to the CBSA. They can do anything they want, and if you protest get ready for a cavity search and further harassment and intimidation from them. Plus notes will be put on your file and shared with US border guys.

So expect bullying, intimidation and harassment each and every time you cross the border both ways.
If you act like you do on the forums in real life it's no wonder you encounter problems. Are you internationally trolling?
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Mar 19, 2011
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Dark Phoenix wrote:
Apr 16th, 2016 6:31 am
There powers are given through the customs and immigration act. Which is a legal act, given by the federal government. Thy powers are "activated" when you attempt to enter the country, and in some case leave the country I believe.
Of course, but you have to find it interesting that their so called "powers" are well beyond that of mortal police, but only effective if you choose to go to them. In the right place you can be within feet of them and they can't do bupkis.
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Smither wrote:
Apr 16th, 2016 5:54 am
Nowadays a cellphone is comparable to a personal computer. I have my email linked to my phone, pictures, dropbox with all my important files linked to my phone. I can't believe cbsa can just casually look through your phone without a search warrant. Now I have my phone on higher security. There are some apps you can use for protecting your privacy. Not going to name which one. Do your own research.
Since they've always had the "power" to put a finger in your butt and disassemble your car at their leisure, it doesn't come as much of a surprise to many of us. Just sayin'
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alpha2omega wrote:
Apr 16th, 2016 5:57 pm
Of course, but you have to find it interesting that their so called "powers" are well beyond that of mortal police, but only effective if you choose to go to them. In the right place you can be within feet of them and they can't do bupkis.
Its all about jurisdiction.
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alpha2omega wrote:
Apr 15th, 2016 10:21 am
Have you even watched the CBSA and similar shows on Cable these days? It's more like 99% of people are lying to them like they are idiots. I can't believe their composure at times. I want to reach through the screen and slap people declaring they don't have any goods only to find a suit case full of frozen chicken and cigarettes.
I KNOW! The idiocity is amazing. It's ridiculous how people lie about coming here to work and then the officers find their full text/email convo about work on their phone, then again if they were at least of average intelligence they might have a shot at a decent job back home instead of trying to work under the table abroad. C'mon, you could afford to travel all this way but you couldn't be bothered to destroy or at least hide your incriminating communications that will get you sent back? It's not like they don't know it's illegal either, since they always lie to the officer's face. The computer/phone searches are pretty low-tech too, just amazing how many people get busted that way.
"I possess a device, in my pocket, capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers"
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Smither wrote:
Nov 20th, 2014 10:37 pm
It seems like people don't have much rights at the border. Apparently, at the border, the agents don't need any ground to search your stuff, unlike when you encounter a cop. And according to the case, it's at border agent's discretion whether they want to strip search you. They could even perform body cavity search at their discretion. I was advised not to bring cellphone and laptop crossing the border if I don't want them to be searched. Any thoughts? Is it a myth debunked that we actually have to provide cellphone & laptop password to border agents?
You do have rights. But keep in mind there is a duration police officers, and border agents can hold you without pressing any charges. Unless you can prove in a court of law it was for an unlawful reason, you are SOL. Don't expect your proof to be the border agents own testimony. They have the right against self incrimination too... Given that they can confiscate everything on you, even the cloths off your back if they have reason to believe it is necessary, your only reliable evidence will be the testimony of the people traveling with you.

Most likely if you refuse to give the password they will simply confiscate the device. I don't know when, how, or if you get the device back, but you can guarantee it will be inconvenient. If they don't like your attitude or are highly suspicious then they'll hold you long enough to try and get a warrant. That is why they are allowed to hold you without charges, they can't exactly have people running off why they try and get a court order.

As everyone has said, if you don't want it searched, don't bring it... You can always stop in some place with a good wifi connection and download the data you need again after crossing the border.
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There are numerous ways to protect yourself when crossing the border. There are many reasons you'd want to do this, e.g., if you are a lawyer, or if you have important proprietary business information, or if you just don't want the government to have free reign. Basically, the ideal way is to host all of your information on a cloud that is hosted externally from the computer. The days of having all of your data stored on a computer are over, it's silly... for many reasons... including if you lost your laptop someone would have all your info. The best thing you can do if you are crossing the border is to make sure your phone and laptop are completely wiped of anything and log out of all your accounts and clouds. Remove all passwords from the devices before you cross. This prevents any conflict. If a border guard wants to look at your stuff, they can go right ahead. They have no right to ask you for a password to your cloud accounts or email accounts.
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Apr 18, 2008
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There are apps that can make your apps, like whatsapp, invisible. You can choose which app to make invisible. When you dial your password on the phone keypad, you can bring up the controller and access the app.
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Jan 7, 2002
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These articles were written primarily for US readers after Trump's executive order that people who enter the US must give up their passwords and PINs if asked by border officials. Still many of the tips apply to everyone who crosses borders and wants to keep their private information private.

How to legally cross a US (or other) border without surrendering your data and passwords

A GUIDE TO GETTING PAST CUSTOMS WITH YOUR DIGITAL PRIVACY INTACT
veni, vidi, Visa
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Dec 6, 2008
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The CBSA uses the Customs Act to justify searching digital devices such as phones, laptops and phones. The act states that all goods are subject to search. When this act was conceived goods were luggage and bags that contained minimal amounts of personal information.

Fast forward to now when we carry volumes of personal information the question of privacy becomes more prevalent. Unlike luggage keys which customs has copies of personal devices are locked with complex codes. The truth is in many cases if they cannot convince you to open them access can be quite difficult.

The CBSA uses their interpretation of the act to justify the intrusion of privacy. The facts have never been challenged to the Supreme Court. Until someone says stop and challenges this the there will be this double standard and the CBSA will continue to do what they want.

Police on the other hand are required to provide cause to allow such personal search. Out west the police went to court to require an accused sex abuser to open their phone when it came to light the only proof was contained on the phone. There is no law requiring you to provide that access.
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I don't have any illegal stuff on my phone/laptop = I don't give a rat's ass if someone is a little curious as to see what I have. I'm all about my rights but I'd rather pick my battles. This isn't one of them.

However, I don't look down upon those who want to pick the battle.
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bylo wrote:
Feb 14th, 2017 10:01 pm
These articles were written primarily for US readers after Trump's executive order that people who enter the US must give up their passwords and PINs if asked by border officials. Still many of the tips apply to everyone who crosses borders and wants to keep their private information private.

How to legally cross a US (or other) border without surrendering your data and passwords

A GUIDE TO GETTING PAST CUSTOMS WITH YOUR DIGITAL PRIVACY INTACT
I did something like that after I was stopped when coming back from the Philippines and an agent wanted to see my phone. Fortunately he only peered at it for a minute in front of me and gave it back. They also had a special program to look at the content of my laptop, and another agent told me it was made in a way to provide a snapshot of pictures present on my computer, be they deleted or not.

Obviously I had nothing illegal or bad on my phone or my laptop, but I'm not able to take the risk of someone making an image of my entire digital history to datamine at leisure and do God knows what after.

I encrypt my phone, factory reset it before taking the plane, and relogin with another Google Play account, on which I download some of my vacation pictures, a handful of apps, an Outlook email app logged in to an alternate email account on which I am surprised to random newsletters. I bring a laptop with an encrypted hard drive, install another copy of Windows on it, along with a few games, Libreoffice, put some documents and downloads in the downloads folder. Or you can bring a laptop like that, and only use with with something like Linux Mint from a live USB key, and then throw the key in the trash before taking the plane.

Problem solved. There is no way to extract any personal data at all from any devices after this is done.
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