Man Arrested for Not Giving Border Agents His Phone Passcode
Peter Donnell / 2 years ago
When Quebec resident Alain Philippon arrived at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Canada, he was stopped by border agents as he departed his flight from the Dominican Republic. When agents requested his phone passcode to search the device, he refused and was then “arrested under section 153.1 of the Customs Act for hindering.”
Question is, was he really hindering or was he simply protecting his own privacy. Did the agents have the right to search the device in the first place? For me personally, I have nothing to hide on my phone, but I’d still rather refuse it be searched for no apparent reason, much in the same way I don’t feel I should have to give out my pin number or email password.
A border agency spokeswoman told CNET: “The Customs Act (s99) authorizes officers to examine all goods and conveyances including electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptops.” She explained that the potential punishment for Philippon is a minimum fine of $1000 and a maximum fine of $25,000 and could include possible jail time.
Handing over your device is one thing, but giving someone your passwords is another issue. Where this sits with the law remains to be seen and Philippon will be in court on May 12th over the issue.
In the US, handing over your passcode could be deemed self-incrimination, something that the Fifth Amendment exists to protect you from. How something similar could apply to this case, could have lasting repercussions on how border agents handle their searches of our devices in the future.