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Academic advisor

Academic advisor

J.K. of Calgary writes:
I travel frequently outside of Canada to conduct research and attend conferences. Can Canadian border officers search my phone and computer?

David Robinson answers:
Yes. The Canada Border Services Agency performs selective warrantless searches of phones, tablets and laptops, just as it searches luggage. Officers may demand passwords, and will seize your electronics if you refuse. US border agents and others engage in the same or more stringent practices. This has serious implications for academic freedom and research confidentiality. When crossing the border, you have to assume there is no electronic device privacy. Everything, including texts, emails, documents, photographs, contacts and search histories, may be scrutinized. If you are concerned about your privacy, before you cross the border consider clearing app histories and caches, and disconnecting or powering off your devices. If possible, leave your devices behind or bring “clean” electronics stripped of all data that can be connected to remote servers. You may also want to make selective deletions of sensitive material, as travelling with empty devices may prompt suspicion at the border and elicit further investigation.

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