'Take a second and think about all the stuff that’s on there': Manitobans react to U.S. Customs’ directive on device searches
Manitobans are reacting to a new directive from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that lays out how border agents can search your devices.
On its website, CBP writes:
“The need for border searches of electronic devices is driven by CBP’s mission to protect the American people and enforce the nation’s laws in this digital age.”
In the directive, the CBP explains that in a basic search, officers could examine devices “with or without suspicion” and “review and analyze information”.
Within an advanced search, agents could connect “external equipment” to the device, like a hard drive, and copy files if it’s deemed necessary for security.
Border officers can also ask travellers for their passcode, and refusing to comply could lead to a device being detained for a “reasonable period of time” so that CBP officials can perform a search.
Speaking with CTV News, Winnipeg based privacy lawyer Andrew J.D. Buck said it’s critical people heading to the United States inform themselves beforehand.
“No one wants to ruin the family vacation because they realize ‘oops I have things on my phone that I can’t have,’” said Buck.
“And really, take a second and think about all the stuff that’s on there: all the personal details or if you have business information.”
Buck also addressed what options travellers once had, to refuse to comply or simply turn around, but said a new Canadian law on border clearance, Bill C-23, would complicate the matter.
“It used to be that you could just turn around,” said Buck.
“The way it is now, the border agent when you enter the U.S. has the ability to detain you for a reasonable period of time. And that’s subject to interpretation. To ask you questions.”
Still, some Manitobans visiting the U.S. regularly didn’t seem phased.
Through her work of breeding and showing dogs, Rita Gingras visits the States multiple times per year.
She told CTV she wasn’t worried about the new directive.
“It’s not a given right. We have to prove that we are acceptable for entry into the States,” Gingras said.
“And I believe if that’s what they have to do, then I’ll go along with it.”
Glenn Lake, another Manitoban who visits the U.S. regularly, said he didn’t feel it should matter to travellers who had nothing to hide.
“If you don’t have anything to worry about, it might take you an extra five minutes, but it’s not a big deal.”
The Winnipeg Airports Authority told CTV it hasn’t noticed a slow in the security process because of the directive, and that it had not received any complaints for passengers about the procedure.