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Should border guards be entitled to smartphone passwords?

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A case out of Quebec could change privacy laws for all Canadians crossing the border. If it goes to trial, you could have your phone searched legally by the Canada Border Services Agency.

The man in Quebec in charged with obstruction after refusing to give his blackberry password to CBSA staff. They say he was hindering them from performing their role and SFU Professor Richard Smith is warning the case could set a precedent for privacy laws.

“Should this be thrown out then that would set the tone for future border searches and then the government would either have to change the law or they would have to abide by that issue directive to border services agents and so on,” he explains. “Canadians will have to decide if that’s what they want because we can of course make a change to our government and to our laws by arguing for that. That is how laws get made. In the meantime people should be careful about what they bring across.”

He says cellphones are not just another item being carried over the border because they contain an enormous amount of personal information such as banking and turning that over to a third party, even somebody at the border is a scary thought.