US Border Security More Likely To Look At Your Phone And Demand Passwords…. Yikes!

According to a CTV News report, Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien told a House of Commons committee yesterday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can look at mobile devices and even demand passwords under new American law:

Therrien cited statistics indicating U.S. border searches of mobile phones had increased between 2015 and 2016.

“These devices contain a lot of sensitive information,” Therrien said. “We should be very concerned.”

And it seems that when US border officials look at your phone, they can deny you entry based on what is found on it. And it doesn’t have to be related to you being a bad guy. Take for example what New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen had to say:


Cullen said one of his constituents was denied entry to the U.S. on health-related grounds because information on the person’s phone indicated a prescription for heart medication.

Now to be fair, Canadian border officials can do this as well. But….. :

Canadian law also allows border officers to inspect cell phones, since they are treated as goods, Therrien told the Commons committee on access to information, privacy and ethics.

But he noted Canada’s border agency has a policy of limiting searches to cases where an officer has grounds to do so — for instance, because a phone might contain information about contraband items.

So travelers, you now know that if you’re going to the US, you can expect that there’s a higher probability that your phone might be searched. Thus if you don’t want things to go sideways, you should likely take precautions prior to departure.


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