See also Slashdot.A Quebec man charged with obstructing border officials by refusing to give up his smartphone password says he will fight the charge.The case has raised a new legal question in Canada, a law professor says.Alain Philippon, 38, of Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Que., refused to divulge his cellphone password to Canada Border Services Agency during a customs search Monday night at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.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.
There should be a high hurdle for having to turn over personal details like cell phone contents to the state. If a judge is convinced of the need for it, on having seen sufficient evidence, that's one thing. But just on the request of somebody in a customs uniform?
Fortunately, this stuff so far is confined to the asylum: Oz, the US, Canada and the UK.
Unfortunately, Customs NZ wants us to enter the asylum too.
If there's no way for Customs to get a warrant currently, then that should likely be looked at - although the hurdle here should be high too and Customs should be spanked if they too frequently make warrant requests that are turned down.
People in the Customs line are easily subject to intimidation, and a "Well, you can either unlock your phone, or you can wait here for hours and hours until we get a warrant" is coercive.
Is the whole world going mad?
From the Slashdot thread:
A friend, who is a lawyer, had confidential, lawyer-client privileged information on her laptop relating to a multi-million dollar business deal.Border guards demanded that she give them her password... They told her it was either not enter the country (and forfeit the deal) or give up her password. Her issue was that she was exposing privileged information to third parties who could, potentially, have illegally profited from the knowledge contained in that laptop.The potential for state-sponsored corporate espionage through this mechanism should not be dismissed.
At present, borders are dangerous legal limbo. This area needs deep oversight and clear paths for travellers to have recourse to constitutional rights.