from the can't-get-past-your-past dept.
A Canadian woman was issued a lifetime ban from entering the U.S. after officials searched her unlocked smartphone, found an email to her doctor about a fentanyl overdose she survived, and asked her questions about her past drug use:
A British Columbia woman was issued a lifetime ban at the US border after officials found an email with her doctor about a fentanyl overdose she survived a year ago.
Chelsea, 28, whose last name is being withheld due to fears that it could affect future employment, answered a series of questions about drug use while attempting to cross the Washington-British Columbia border. She said her phone, which didn't have a password, was searched for about two hours. During questioning after her phone was searched, she admitted to using illegal drugs before, including cocaine.
At the US border, the searching of electronic devices, including smartphones, is allowed as part of inspection. Warrantless searches on phones are also allowed at the Canadian border—a practice defense lawyers are trying to end.
"It was super violating—I couldn't believe they went into my sent emails folder and found something from a year ago that was addressed to my doctor," Chelsea said. "It was really humiliating, and it felt terrible having to bring that up."
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently released a one-page security assessment of the U.S.-Canadian border that identified drug smuggling (including cocaine and fentanyl) as well as "unidentified [Canadian] homegrown violent extremists" as security challenges:
The drugs that are commonly transported into Canada from the United States are cocaine and methamphetamine. Ecstasy, fentanyl and marijuana are smuggled into the U.S. from Canada.
[...] "This report identifies several areas where we can improve border security — especially in combating drug trafficking and preventing potential acts of terrorism," Katko, R-Camillus, said. "Stopping the influx of drugs coming into our country through the northern border is of particular concern, given the heroin and opioid epidemic plaguing central New York."