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'Protect yourself,' border security breaking the law won't get a quick fix: lawyer

Last Updated Jan 7, 2020 at 3:09 pm PDT

FILE: A Canadian Border Services agent stands watch at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. The Canada Border Services Agency will soon force all border security officers working with detained migrants to wear defensive gear, including batons, pepper spray and bulletproof vests, a policy that's drawing widespread concern over a perceived "criminalization" of asylum seekers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
Summary

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland explains this isn't surprising

He advises everyone to protect themselves when travelling across the border since the government can't

The CBSA has agreed to make several policy changes to better respect privacy

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The federal privacy commissioner’s finding on border security violating the law does not mean any immediate changes are on the way, according to a local lawyer.

On Tuesday, Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien found the Canadian Border Services Agency violated the law when examining devices at the border. This mainly included viewing travellers’ cellphones and laptops.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland explains this isn’t surprising.

“The report properly points out that technology is reigning supreme, into a kind of surveillance capitalism. Big business exploits technology. Gone between the cracks are individual privacy rights,” he tells NEWS 1130. “The difficulty is that technology develops, business exploits technology, the government falls far, far behind, and the legal system is at a place behind the government.”

He advises everyone to protect themselves when travelling across the border since the federal government can’t stay on top of all the searches.


“Bring unused computer devices, cellphones or laptops. Failure to do that, frankly, leaves no one to blame but yourself,” he says, adding the rules surrounding device searches is too complex for a quick fix.

“There is no secret sauce; magic recipe, when it comes to big government or border crossings. Those are kind of, information retrieval, free-of-consent zones.”

When it comes to finding a long-term solution, Kurland says he wants an ombudsperson to look into the complaints regarding border agents.

“One of the largest law enforcement bodies in all Canada — CBSA — still goes without the public interest of scrutiny,” he says.

The CBSA has agreed to make several policy changes to better respect privacy.

With files from the Canadian Press.