Pixabay

Here’s how to protect your data at the border

B.C. residents warned to turn off their phones at the border

A civil liberties watchdog is warning B.C. residents to turn off their phones and backup their data before heading back across the border into Canada.

In a report released Wednesday, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association outlined how border security agents can access your data, and even detain you if they believe you have information they need on your phone, tablet or computer.

According to the association, usual privacy regulation that prevents authorities from searching electronic devices doesn’t apply at the border.

“The Customs Act gives the Canadian Border Services Agency broad powers to search people and goods coming into the country, including the things that people bring with them,” the report notes.

“This includes the content – the files, photos and videos – on your digital devices.”

In order to search electronic devices, border guards just need:

  • reasonable grounds to believe that the person has not revealed their identity or has hidden on their personal documents that are relevant to their admissibility
  • reasonable grounds to believe that the person is involved with people smuggling, human trafficking, or document fraud

However, as border guards can only search the data on the device – and not in the cloud – the BCCLA recommends that people offload sensitive information and delete it from their device.

In order to search the cloud, the report notes, guards require a warrant from a judge.

But remember: if a guard can’t get access to your data, they may seize your phone, or make a backup of the data on it.

How to keep your data private:

Password-protect your device

Although the authorities can ask for a password, there is no legal certainty about whether or not a person must provide it. However, the BCCLA warns that border security agents have in the past detained and arrested people for not giving up a password. Make sure to use two-factor authentication, in case guards seize one device but not the other.

Leave your phone at home

If you don’t have a phone, officers can neither search it nor detain you for not giving up a password.

Delete data

If you don’t need it on your device right now, back it up to the cloud and delete it off your phone. Make sure to fully delete it, however – just deleted files can often end up in an easily-accessible recycling bin.

Turn off your device

Security experts often have ways to access the data on a phone even if you don’t give them your password, as long as your device is on.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Our History: A royal visit to Vernon

Princess Margaret and Lt.-Gov. Frank Mackenzie Ross took a ride through Vernon… Continue reading

Coldstream officials clear air about pool costs

Municipalities seeks to clarify who pays what to cover additional lifeguarding hours

Big contributions for Vernon’s Schubert Centre

Former member of the centre donated $10,000 while Regency Parkwood donated more than $2,000

Old Friends return to Okanagan Symphony stage

OSO marks 60th anniversary with Masterworks series in Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon

Coldstream school celebrates plastic-free Valentine’s Day

Grade 5 students challenge fellow learners throughout district to show Mother Earth some love

Laughing ladies and country artists sell out Vernon venue

Alan Doyle and I Am Woman, Hear Me Laff! back to back sold out

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs meet with provincial, federal ministers

Neither party speaking on the groundwork laid for tomorrow’s talks

Couple in crash on Highway 1 mistake Shuswap for Lower Mainland

Chase RCMP report Mercedes Benz collides with transport truck

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

MPs to examine privacy implications of facial-recognition technology used by RCMP

The MPs will look at how the technology affects the privacy, security and safety of children

Dates back to 2009: Calgary police lay charges in fraud involving semi-trucks

Three people from Calgary are facing charges that include fraud over $5,000

Revelstoke mother and daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Ministry grants SD67 extension to balance books, submit amended budget

The board of trustees voted Monday to acquire outside help to deal with budget concerns

Most Read