Border agency’s digital device searches broke the law, privacy watchdog says

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OTTAWA — The federal privacy czar says Canada’s border agency violated the law by carrying out overly invasive searches of personal digital devices, in one case viewing a traveller’s social media and online banking information.

Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien looked into complaints against the Canada Border Services Agency concerning the examination of devices — namely cell phones, tablets and laptop computers — at ports of entry.

He finds the border agency contravened federal law and notes significant shortcomings in the agency’s overall practices related to digital devices.

Therrien makes recommendations to the agency and calls for reform of the legal framework governing searches of devices at the border.

The border agency has agreed to make several policy changes to better respect privacy.

The findings are included in the privacy commissioner’s annual report, recently presented to Parliament.

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