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.

Just Posted

Vancouver Giants blank Rockets

Langley-based G-men take over top spot in the west

Kodiaks begin best-of-seven series strong

The Kodiaks opened their quarter-final playoff series by defeating the Delta Ice Hawks on home ice.

Heritage proposal for Aldergrove fire hall at a ‘standstill’

The Alder Grove Heritage Society faces a delay in knowing the fate of the fire hall due to tenants slated to live in the building until 2020.

VIDEO: Langley hosting high-flying fun at annual gymnastics tournament

Action runs Friday through Sunday at the Langley Events Centre fieldhouse.

Langley Secondary students rehearse upcoming musical comedy

The Langley Secondary Musical Theatre Company presents Guys and Dolls on Feb. 22.

VIDEO: Langley hosting high-flying fun at annual gymnastics tournament

Action runs Friday through Sunday at the Langley Events Centre fieldhouse.

Vancouver crash leaves driver dead, 2 in hospital

Police are investigating what happened in 2-vehicle crash

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Stabbing at Lower Mainland banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Most Read