I’ve traveled to many different countries in my life and the only time I’ve ever had any trouble at all at a border crossing was flying into Canada for a conference one time. I was pulled out of the line and sent to a special side room where I was quizzed about the real reasons I was coming to Canada. They couldn’t believe I was speaking at a conference, because I didn’t have a paper invite, and had to dig through my emails to show them it in email (thankfully, I stored my emails locally and didn’t need internet access). When I tell that story it shocks some people, as Canada has always had a reputation as a fairly easy border to cross — especially for Americans.
But apparently the Canadians are stepping up their crazy antagonism at the border. The latest story involve Alain Philippon, a Canadian citizen who was returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic. Upon landing in Halifax he was ordered to cough up the password to his smartphone, and upon refusing, was charged with obstructing border officials:
A Quebec man charged with obstructing border officials by refusing to give up his smartphone password says he will fight the charge.
Philippon had arrived in Halifax on a flight from Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. He’s been charged under section 153.1 (b) of the Customs Act for hindering or preventing border officers from performing their role under the act.
According to the CBSA, the minimum fine for the offence is $1,000, with a maximum fine of $25,000 and the possibility of a year in jail.
In the US, there have been a number of cases concerning searches of computers and electronic devices at the border, with an unfortunately large number saying that you really don’t have privacy rights at the border. Of course, it’s not universal, as at least one important court has ruled otherwise. Up in Canada, however, there apparently hasn’t been much caselaw on this issue, so assuming Philippon fights this, it could make for a very interesting case.