Your phone is not safe at the border.

Canada’s border agents can search your phone and laptop at borders and airports, including looking through your private photos, personal messages, and call history.

Sign the Petition
Know your Rights
Make a Complaint

These ‘digital strip searches’ are allowed because our laws are incredibly out of date. But politicians are refusing to update them for our digital age.

Fight back with us: demand updated laws, learn more about your rights, and make a complaint if your privacy has been violated at the border.

Sign the petition.

Politicians need to feel a lot of pressure if we’re going to convince them to finally fix these laws. The rules are so out of date that Canada’s own ethics committee has made strong recommendations to update them – but Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has so far refused to take action.

Send a message now to pile on the pressure.

Our phones and laptops contain our most personal, private information. But Canadian border agents treat these devices as though searching them is no different from searching a bag of t-shirts.1 Canadians have even been arrested for refusing to hand over the passwords to their phones.2

Our laws must be updated to reflect the sheer volume of personal photos, messages, and private files we carry on our digital devices. We deserve greater protection and special laws to govern how and when these are searched at the border.3 Sign now to stand up for digital privacy at the border.

THIS PETITION WILL GO TO:

The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister

The Canadian laws that govern searches of digital devices at our borders must be updated and strengthened to protect the privacy of people in Canada.

The rapid evolution of modern electronic devices means that they contain enormous amounts of personal information, which far exceeds what would have been possible to access when the Customs Act rules dealing with these devices were developed. Searches of electronic devices should have a dedicated legal basis that is distinct from searches of other types of goods. It is clear that a cell phone or laptop has specific privacy interests implicated when these devices are searched, and should not be treated as ‘mere goods’.

Additionally, there should be no searches of digital devices without reasonable grounds to believe that there is a customs and immigration contravention. Where searches are related to potential criminal infractions, they should follow criminal law standards, as well as trigger the appropriate protections of rights.

Finally, the constitutional rights of Canadians shouldn’t be a matter of undisclosed or discretionary CBSA policy – we need clear, transparent policies, and mechanisms for recourse. People in Canada need a legislated regime with built-in rights of challenge, as well as public transparency and reporting obligations. And they deserve privacy protected by up-to-date, modern laws that reflect the current realities of our digital age.

I am calling on your government to implement these changes and protect the most sensitive, personal information of people travelling across Canada’s borders.

Thank you.

THIS PETITION WILL GO TO:

The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister

The Canadian laws that govern searches of digital devices at our borders must be updated and strengthened to protect the privacy of people in Canada.

The rapid evolution of modern electronic devices means that they contain enormous amounts of personal information, which far exceeds what would have been possible to access when the Customs Act rules dealing with these devices were developed. Searches of electronic devices should have a dedicated legal basis that is distinct from searches of other types of goods. It is clear that a cell phone or laptop has specific privacy interests implicated when these devices are searched, and should not be treated as ‘mere goods’.

Additionally, there should be no searches of digital devices without reasonable grounds to believe that there is a customs and immigration contravention. Where searches are related to potential criminal infractions, they should follow criminal law standards, as well as trigger the appropriate protections of rights.

Finally, the constitutional rights of Canadians shouldn’t be a matter of undisclosed or discretionary CBSA policy – we need clear, transparent policies, and mechanisms for recourse. People in Canada need a legislated regime with built-in rights of challenge, as well as public transparency and reporting obligations. And they deserve privacy protected by up-to-date, modern laws that reflect the current realities of our digital age.

I am calling on your government to implement these changes and protect the most sensitive, personal information of people travelling across Canada’s borders.

Thank you.

Know your rights

Do you know if you’re required to give your phone password if asked by a border agent? Do you know how to protect personal information on your phone?

Our friends at BCCLA and CIPPIC have created a guide to help you know your rights: download it here.

The guide is available in English, French, Mandarin, Punjabi, Tagalog, Spanish, and Arabic.

View the guide
Make a complaint

Make a complaint

Has your privacy been invaded? You may wish to make a complaint to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner here.

Do you believe you were unfairly targeted for digital device searches by a Canada Border Services Agency officer on the basis of your race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, disability, genetic characteristics, or a conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended? You can file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission here.

Footnotes:

[1] Crossing the border this summer? Know that guards can search your electronic devices: Folio.ca
[2] Alain Philippon pleads guilty over smartphone password border dispute: CBC
[3] Protecting Canadians’ privacy at the U.S. Border: Report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics

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