Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Have You Heard the One About the Trucker Whose Laptop Was Searched at the Canadian Border?

Laptop searches by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have made the news.  Searches by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are quietly occurring. William Leask, an Ontario truck driver, was convicted in Canada in March 2008 for importing child pornography from the U.S..  The pornography was on his laptop, which was searched at the border by the CBSA.

The CBSA found the illegal material on Mr. Leask's computer by chance. They had no reason to believe the laptop contained anything illicit. To them it was simply a "container," no different from a cardboard box or briefcase, and was therefore subject to a routine search.

Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ann Cavoukian takes a different approach.  She claims there should be limitations on when personal electronic devices can be searched because it is not only their owners' privacy that is at risk, but the privacy of everyone who has communicated with them.

There are many other arguments that should be raised in opposition to such invasions of privacy in the name of security.  Please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak (416-307-4168) if your laptop, PDA, Blackberry, cell phone or other device is searched by Canadian border officials without reasonable and probable grounds to believe that you have breached Canada's laws.  If you require assistance in asking a judge to determine whether the CBSA is going on a fishing expedition through your confidential information, please ask for help.

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