Canadian Man Charged with Obstructing Border Officials by Refusing to Give Smartphone Password

A Canadian man has been charged with obstructing border officials by refusing to give them the passcode to access his BlackBerry.

Alain Philippon would not give his smartphone password to Canada Border Services Agency earlier this week. The incident occurred during a customs search Monday night at Halifax Stanfield International Airport upon his return from Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.

The 38-year-old resident of Quebec has been released on bail. It’s not been divulged why he was selected for a smartphone search.

The minimum charge Philippon faces is a $1,000 fine. The maximum penalty is a fine of $25,000 and up to a year in jail.

Under the Customs Act, officers are allowed to inspect “goods,” which Rob Currie, director of the Law and Technology Institute at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, told CBC News “certainly extends to your cellphone” and “pretty much anything you have.”

Philippon is scheduled to return to court on May 12. It’s expected that his case will set a precedent in Canadian law whether border officials can demand a password to unlock a smartphone.