More than 27,000 cell phones, iPads searched by Canada Border Services over 2 year period

January 22, 2020

The Canada Border Services Agency revealed that in a two-year period, border officials searched more than 27,000 travelers’ cellphones and iPads, the highest figure disclosed to date.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, between November 20, 2017 to December 31, 2019, CBSA searched 27,405 digital devices. The Customs Act requires owners to surrender their passwords and keys to encrypted data to border officials, or risk having their property confiscated by inspectors.

CBSA did not reveal how many cellphones it had confiscated, nor did the agency identify the airports or crossings with the highest number of searches or confiscations. Access To Information documents obtained by Blacklock’s in 2018 demonstrated that 57% occurred at British Columbia border crossings followed by Ontario (18 percent), the Prairies (12 percent), Québec (11 percent) and Atlantic Canada land crossings (one percent).

The Agency said most searches, sixty percent, did not result in any further investigation.

These increased searches and confiscations have raised the ire of Conservative MPs, like Bob Zimmer, who told reporters. “We are recommending the government modernize the Customs Act to ensure personal information on electronic devices is protected and should only be examined with reasonable grounds.”