CBSA to Start Tracking Number of Cellphone Searches


According to a new report from CBC News, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) will start tracking the number of cellphones its officers search at the border.

After the first six months of collecting data, the agency will release its first glimpse at the frequency of those searches. In a statement, vice-president of the agency’s programs branch Martin Bolduc said:

“Right now we’re not tracking separately how many cellphone searches we have done.”

The CBSA has long held the right to search electronic devices at the border without a warrant, just as it does with suitcases and bags. While there are only a few accounts of searches in Canada, several lawyers have called this practice unconstitutional.

In the United States, the frequency of cellphone searches at the border has been on the rise in recent years.


  • KBlazer07

    Guess you can say it’s unconstitutional and not cross the border OR hand over your phone. You always have a choice 🙂

  • Go over the boarder with burner devices (no personal data on them, etc)
    They can only search what you physically have.

  • violated

    This is a flat out lie. 🙂
    After returning home here from a week in the US, a Canadian customs agent demanded I enter my password so she could search my phone while I watched helplessly as she snooped through everything (notes, photo albums, text conversations, email accounts, call logs, etc.). Failure to comply would have led to detainment and obstruction of justice charges — That is not a choice and I was already home.

    I would prefer if the security agents paid for by the people wouldn’t treat the people as guilty until proven innocent. I shouldn’t need to take ‘burner devices’ on vacation to avoid being violated by my elected government upon coming home. This isn’t something that we should just shrug off as out of our control — our constitutional rights to privacy shouldn’t be stripped away just because we visited another country.

    I concede that there isn’t a leg to stand on regarding other countries demanding to search our devices when we attempt to visit as a foreigner but our elected government shouldn’t be allowed to search our devices without reason when we come home.

  • Joe

    This is true. Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do. You don’t have to enter your passcode, but if you don’t, you might be stuck there for awhile.

    If you let them creep through your recent texts, pictures, and anything else they want to see, your privacy will be violated but you’ll be home sooner in most cases.

    It’s an unfair choice, but it’s an unfortunate spinoff that comes with living next to the world’s largest military / police state.

  • Gerry Lee

    I’ll just bring my flip phone instead.

  • KBlazer07

    So it does suck, no argument there. The problem is, you let one bad apple in and suddenly 100 people are dead. Also, if I was up to no good, my phone would be clean going through customs, so not sure what they’re expecting to find. Everything can be stored in the cloud these days, so everything can be downloaded 5 minutes after you pass through customs. That being said, in my opinion, crossing border security is a privilege, not a right. I have a nexus pass, I have given both governments (US and Canada) access to my iris and fingerprint scans. In return, I get through customs in less than 2 minutes instead of hours. People are against this (however they’ll give the same data to Apple, Samsung, Disney, …) which I don’t understand. Always have choices:)

  • Agreed. Did they give you a reason for wanting to search your device?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    As more people bring burner phones over the border, the next step will be to demand your Facebook and email passwords for search on their PCs. Then the next step will be that they will already have your passwords. It’s a slippery slope.