40% percent of device examinations by customs-related offence


40% percent of device examinations by customs-related offence


Feb. 1, 2020

Global Korean Post


The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)  published statistics on the examination of digital devices. From November 20, 2017 until December 31, 2019, some 27,405 travellers of a total of 207,8 million travellers who were processed at ports of entry had their digital devices examined. In fact, statistics demonstrate that 0.013% of all travellers during that timeframe, or, 13 in every 100,000 travellers underwent an examination of their digital devices. Underscoring the importance and effectiveness of those device examinations, approximately 40% percent of device examinations resulted in a customs-related offence.

The CBSA is committed to respecting privacy rights while protecting the safety and security of the Canadian border. Examination of digital devices are performed occasionally with the clear goal of administering or enforcing the CBSA’s mandate and program legislation that governs the cross-border movement of people and goods.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s (OPC) investigation into examinations of digital devices conducted during this timeframe, found that in two instances, there was a breach of the Privacy Act.

The CBSA recognizes that digital devices can contain sensitive personal information and that protecting privacy is of great importance. At the same time, its resultant rate demonstrates that information on digital devices can be 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.

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.

While the CBSA has always had a policy on examination of goods, to provide greater certainty, the Agency launched, in December 2019, a dedicated policy on digital device examinations, including a more developed, detailed, mandatory training program for all new and existing officers. The Agency also developed and published new information to provide guidance to travellers.

The CBSA recognises the importance of transparency and maximizing the release of open data and, in line with its commitment to the OPC, the Agency will be publishing statistics on the number of examinations of digital devices on its external website on a regular basis.