• Preparing Your Canadian Smartphone for a U.S. Border Crossing



    This story popped up in my news feed last night, so I'm passing it on as a PSA. The Montreal Blog has posted a list of 5 things that Canadians should delete off their phones before attempting to cross the U.S. border:

    1. Illegally downloaded music;
    2. prescription information;
    3. photos of marijuana;
    4. marijuana apps;
    5. distasteful memes and other potentially incriminating photos.

    (For our American friends reading this, recreational weed use will be legal in this country come October...)

    I guess the biggest problem that I have with this list is the very presumption that my phone will be searched. The only time I've ever had to surrender my electronics was to a Canada Border Services Agent on my return from a visit to Thailand. In hindsight, and as a middle-aged white dude travelling alone even I can see how that would look sketchy af.

    Pirated content is a no-brainer, and the tip about prescriptions is based on a one-off incident described here. I don't question the right that the United States has to protect its borders; on the other hand, these tips read to me as if they were written by someone's fretful mother. Not once have I ever had my phone searched at the U.S. border, nor have I ever been asked for any social media passwords.

    Have you?

    Source: MTL Blog

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    This article was originally published in forum thread: Preparing Your Canadian Smartphone for a U.S. Border Crossing started by acurrie View original post
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Ipberg's Avatar
      Ipberg -
      Before crossing the border I'd back up all media content off my phone to cloud services and then delete it from the phone. Also I'd delete the social apps that I don't want border security to demand that you log into if it comes to that. But I'd also snap some photos or take some videos of a pet, your street and/or clouds so that there's something relatively uninteresting on the photo roll because a completely empty photo roll nowadays seems suspicious.

      In addition, I'd clear the browser's history and clear the My Activity history from Google. But I wouldn't disable either. An empty browser history and blank My Activity history is kind of suspicious. Instead, I'd browse to a popular portal like MSN or CNN and click on a few entertainment or sports news topics and perform searches of a few un-controversial topics like sports scores and the weather conditions of my destination.
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      Thanks for the response... A sad sign of the times, but looks you've got action plan in place.
    1. acurrie's Avatar
      acurrie -
      Fwiw, some perspective on this matter from Snopes:

      WHAT'S TRUE
      In January 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a new directive regarding border search of electronic devices that allows agents to demand the password to open travelers' cellphones without probable cause.

      WHAT'S FALSE
      This directive was not new in June 2018, it does not require or provide that the cellphone of every Canadian entering the U.S. be searched, and mandatory cellphone searches have so far occurred relatively rarely.
      Hope this puts everyone at ease for the holiday weekend.
    1. mch's Avatar
      mch -
      The safest thing is to have a phone for travel without much content on it. Even if you delete content, it likely could be recovered.
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