Do Border Officials Really Have the Right to Demand Our Passwords?

 A Canadian man was charged for not giving up his phone password to border agents at the airport.

Thirty-eight-year-old Alain Philippon refused to reveal his cellphone password to Canada Border Services on Monday night at Halifax Stanfield International Airport during a customs search.

The result?

He’s now been charged under section 153.1 (b) of the Customs Act for preventing border officers from performing their role under the act.


We mean, it’s not like we’re a free country, or anything.

The offence comes with a minimum fine of $1,000, with a maximum fine of $25,000 and the possibility of a year in jail. Philippon – who has been released on bail and set to return to court in May – has said that he intends to fight the charge, calling the information on his phone “personal.”

It sounds like a bad domestic dispute to us, to be honest.

In their defense, border services representatives have said that their officers are trained in investigating and questioning practices and that the Customs Act allows them to search all goods, including cellphones and laptops.

But should the power to inspect things we bring into the country extended to the content of our cellphone? And if so, can we not type the damn password ourselves?

Police need a search warrant to search someone’s personal computer – just saying.

The case flags a new legal question in Canada, as it has not been tested in courts whether border officials can force you to reveal your password before inspecting your device.

We’ll have to wait to see how this one unfolds.


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