Canada's privacy commissioner 'very concerned' about U.S. border phone searches
Daniel Therrien says Canadians shouldn't cross into U.S. if unwilling to have devices searched
Canada's privacy czar says Canadians should be "very concerned" about their cellphones, computers and other electronic devices being searched by U.S. border agents.
Daniel Therrien told a House of Commons committee Monday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can look at mobile devices and even demand passwords under American law.
The privacy commissioner cited statistics indicating U.S. border searches of mobile phones had increased between 2015 and 2016.
He said the devices contain a lot of sensitive information and people should be very concerned.
New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen asked if that means no Canadian should cross the border with a phone, laptop or tablet unless they are comfortable with a U.S. border official inspecting the contents.
Therrien said yes.
Consultations and discussions
Cullen said one of his constituents in northern British Columbia was denied entry to the U.S. on health-related grounds because information on the person's phone indicated a prescription for heart medication.
When asked on Tuesday, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said they're constantly talking to their U.S. counterparts about border rules.
"I hear most definitely the concerns of the privacy commissioner with respect to certain U.S. procedures. I also notice in the same report he was far more positive about Canadian procedures and the work of the CBSA," Goodale said during question period.
"This is an area where technology is emerging and changing all the time, and obviously it's an area where we'll have consultations and discussions with our American counterparts to ensure the treatment of Canadians at the border is fair, professional, consistent and respectful of [their] rights."
With files from CBC News