Statement by Canada Border Services Agency on the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Report on the Examination of Travellers’ Digital Devices at the Border
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) acknowledges the report of the Privacy Commissioner regarding the Examination of Travellers’ Digital Devices at the Border, and recognizes the important role played by the OPC in ensuring that privacy rights are upheld.
Border services officers deal with sensitive information on a daily basis. As a result, officers receive training on the individual’s right to privacy and their responsibilities regarding the collection, use, disclosure and confidentiality of sensitive information.
The CBSA recognizes that digital devices can contain sensitive personal information and that protecting privacy is of great importance. At the same time, there can also be information on digital devices that is key for the Agency to fulfill its mission to ensure the security and prosperity of Canada by managing the access of people and goods into Canada.
Digital device examinations are not conducted as a matter of course. In fact, approximately 13 in every 100, 000 travellers in the last two years have undergone this process. Underscoring the importance and effectiveness of those device examinations, 39.4 percent of all devices examined resulted in a customs-related offence.
The Agency has already addressed six of the policy recommendations included in the OPC’s report of findings, and is enacting a number of actions to ensure strong border protection and respect for travellers’ privacy. While the CBSA has always had a policy on examination of goods, to provide greater certainty, a dedicated policy on digital device examinations was launched, including a more developed, detailed, mandatory training program for all new and existing officers.
The CBSA is reviewing the proposed legislative amendments provided by the OPC.
The CBSA is committed to greater transparency and oversight measures—including a full audit—that will better inform Canadians on what to expect with regard to digital devices at the border and ensure that the newly expanded policy is followed by officers.
The Agency is committed to respecting the privacy of all travellers to Canada while fulfilling its mandate of protecting the Canadian border.
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