Can border agents compel you to unlock your iPhone? A new case in Canada is testing out the law, with potentially serious repercussions. On Monday, a Quebec man named Alain Philippon refused to give the unlock code to his BlackBerry at the Canadian border, and was detained on charges of hindering border agents in the performance of their duties. This is the first time a Canadian citizen has been charged for declining to unlock a phone, and the case is expected to break new legal ground. Philippon said he didn't provide the code because he considers the information on his phone to be "personal." He was released on bail pending a trial in May.
The case deals with issues of encryption and personal privacy that have been debated across a number of legal systems. In America, privacy advocates have successfully argued that forced decryption violates a suspect's Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, and the Supreme Court ruled last year that domestic searches of a suspect's cell phone require a warrant. In December, the Canadian Supreme Court issued a contrary ruling, allowing for narrow searches of phones when information is freely available. Still, it's unclear where the law will come down in Philippon's case.
3/6 4:07pm ET: An earlier version of this piece described Philippon's phone as an iPhone, rather than a BlackBerry. The Verge regrets the error.
4:33pm ET: Updated with more information on Canadian legal precedent.