Quebec resident Alain Philippon to fight charge for not giving up phone password at airport

YouTube Alain Philippon, a Quebec man that had flown back to Canada’s Halifax International Airport after a trip to the Dominican Republic, was stopped and arrested by border agents after he refused to offer up his phone’s passcode. In a statement to CNET, a spokesperson for the Canadian Border Services Agency said Philippon was indeed “arrested under section 153.1 of the Customs Act for hindering,” and then cited that act, which “authorizes officers to examine all goods and conveyances including electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptops.” Philippon, 38, faces a minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum fine of $25,000 with possible jail time. The CBC notes that in Canada, Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says everyone has “the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.” And in the US, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police must get a warrant before they can inspect cell phones, as they carry a wealth of personal information. But this case in particular — not giving up your passcode to authorities — has never been litigated in Canada. Apple It’s not the same as handing over your phone; since a smartphone carries much more information than a typical “good,” offering one’s passcode could amount to self-incrimination, which is why the Fifth Amendment exists in the US, to protect people from incriminating themselves. Here’s what the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says on this issue: Courts have generally accepted that telling the government a password or encryption key is “testimony.” A police officer cannot force or threaten you into giving up your password or unlocking your electronic devices. However, a judge or a grand jury may be able to force you to decrypt your devices in some circumstances. Hanni Fakhoury, senior staff attorney at the EFF, told CNET that “the standards for search and seizure are relaxed” at the US borders, and agents don’t need a warrant, or even suspicion, to search your devices. But, in one important instance, the Ninth Court of Appeals says a “forensic examination” does require “reasonable suspicion” — it’s just unclear if offering one’s passcode qualifies as a “forensic examination.” Right now, Canadian laws don’t treat cellphones or smartphones any differently from other goods, so, they are subject to examination. But the power to demand one to offer up their password has “yet to be constitutionally tested,” the CBC notes. Philippon’s court hearing is scheduled for May 12. NOW WATCH: 7 amazing maps that show how important Canada is Please enable Javascript to watch this video Read more stories on Business Insider, Malaysian edition of the world’s fastest-growing business and technology news website.

A man was arrested for refusing to give his phone’s passcode to border agents

YouTube Alain Philippon, a Quebec man that had flown back to Canada’s Halifax International Airport after a trip to the Dominican Republic, was stopped and arrested by border agents after he refused to offer up his phone’s passcode. In a statement to CNET, a spokesperson for the Canadian Border Services Agency said Philippon was indeed “arrested under section 153.1 of the Customs Act for hindering,” and then cited that act, which “authorizes officers to examine all goods and conveyances including electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptops.” Philippon, 38, faces a minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum fine of $25,000 with possible jail time. The CBC notes that in Canada, Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says everyone has “the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.” And in the US, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police must get a warrant before they can inspect cell phones, as they carry a wealth of personal information. But this case in particular — not giving up your passcode to authorities — has never been litigated in Canada. Apple It’s not the same as handing over your phone; since a smartphone carries much more information than a typical “good,” offering one’s passcode could amount to self-incrimination, which is why the Fifth Amendment exists in the US, to protect people from incriminating themselves. Here’s what the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says on this issue: Courts have generally accepted that telling the government a password or encryption key is “testimony.” A police officer cannot force or threaten you into giving up your password or unlocking your electronic devices. However, a judge or a grand jury may be able to force you to decrypt your devices in some circumstances. Hanni Fakhoury, senior staff attorney at the EFF, told CNET that “the standards for search and seizure are relaxed” at the US borders, and agents don’t need a warrant, or even suspicion, to search your devices. But, in one important instance, the Ninth Court of Appeals says a “forensic examination” does require “reasonable suspicion” — it’s just unclear if offering one’s passcode qualifies as a “forensic examination.” Right now, Canadian laws don’t treat cellphones or smartphones any differently from other goods, so, they are subject to examination. But the power to demand one to offer up their password has “yet to be constitutionally tested,” the CBC notes. Philippon’s court hearing is scheduled for May 12. NOW WATCH: 7 amazing maps that show how important Canada is Please enable Javascript to watch this video Read more stories on Business Insider, Malaysian edition of the world’s fastest-growing business and technology news website.

A Quebec man charged with obstructing border officials by refusing to give up his smartphone password says he will fight the charge.

The case has raised a new legal question in Canada, a law professor says.

Alain Philippon, 38, of Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Que., refused to divulge his cellphone password to Canada Border Services Agency during a customs search Monday night at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

Philippon had arrived in Halifax on a flight from Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. He's been charged under section 153.1 (b) of the Customs Act for hindering or preventing border officers from performing their role under the act.

According to the CBSA, the minimum fine for the offence is $1,000, with a maximum fine of $25,000 and the possibility of a year in jail.

Philippon did not want to be interviewed but said he intends to fight the charge since he considers the information on his phone to be "personal."

The CBSA wouldn't say why Philippon was selected for a smartphone search.

In an email, a border services spokesperson wrote, "Officers are trained in examination, investigative and questioning techniques. To divulge our approach may render our techniques ineffective. Officers are trained to look for indicators of deception and use a risk management approach in determining which goods may warrant a closer look."​

Rob Currie, director of the Law and Technology Institute at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, said that under Canadian law, travellers crossing the Canadian border have a reduced expectation of privacy.

He said border officials have wide-ranging powers to search travellers and their belongings.

"Under the Customs Act, customs officers are allowed to inspect things that you have, that you're bringing into the country," he told CBC News. "The term used in the act is 'goods,' but that certainly extends to your cellphone, to your tablet, to your computer, pretty much anything you have."

Philippon has been released on bail, and will return to court in Dartmouth on May 12 for election and plea.

Not tested yet in court

Currie said the issue of whether a traveller must reveal a password to an electronic device at the border hasn’t been tested by a court.

"This is a question that has not been litigated in Canada, whether they can actually demand you to hand over your password to allow them to unlock the device," he said. "[It's] one thing for them to inspect it, another thing for them to compel you to help them."

Currie said the obstruction case hinges on that distinction.

"[It's] a very interesting one to watch."