The government bill introduced in the Senate, Bill S-7, amends the Customs Act to clarify the circumstances under which border officers can search personal digital devices like cellphones and laptops. It would create a new standard of “reasonable general concern” for cellphone searches at the border, which civil liberties groups have said is too permissive.
On Monday, senators on the national security and defence committee passed an amendment proposed by Sen. Mobina Jaffer to replace that proposed new standard with “reasonable grounds to suspect,” the most permissible standard that currently exists in law, which is still more restrictive than the government’s proposed new threshold.
Jaffar said she had her own personal experience of being racially profiled where she had to be pulled in for another round of questioning. Only after she was showed her green passport, then she was let go. She said in the National Post, that this issue began after the Sept. 11 attacks and 21 years later, “racial profiling has not stopped.”
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says, "The Bill was made necessary by a key judgement in the Alberta Court of Appeal. In 2020, the decision in R. v. Canfield held that the examination of the content of a personal digital device (e.g. a cell phone or a laptop) under the Customs Act is unconstitutional, because the relevant section of the legislation imposed no limits on the device search. The Court suspended the declaration of invalidity for a year in order to give Parliament time to amend the legislation and introduce a threshold."
According to The Government of Canada website: