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What happens when a Canadian border agent asks to search your phone?

Agents on both sides of the border can go through your photos, contacts, apps and other information stored on your devices. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Cody Anderson was one of millions of Americans who cast his vote on election day last November.

But unlike most Americans, he decided to watch the results come in from the other side of the border — “a little cheap joke,” he recalled, what with the number of Americans claiming they would move to Canada if Donald Trump won.

The Canadian border agents in Manitoba who greeted him after his drive from Nebraska were suspicious. An agent asked to see his phone and Anderson gave her his PIN.

‘I did catch a glimpse of him looking through my text messages.’– Brandon Wu

“That decision was a bit [hasty] because I didn’t want to turn around and drive another 10 hours to get all the way home,” Anderson wrote in an online exchange with CBC News.

He doesn’t know what was examined on his phone, but in the end, the border agent let him in.

“She stamped my passport and I forget her exact remark after that but it was something that sounded like she thought I was trying to move in,” Anderson said.

For all the recent tales of U.S. border agents scrutinizing travellers’ phones and laptops, Anderson’s story is a reminder that, yes, Canadian border agents can and will search electronics, too.

And just like Canadians entering the U.S., foreign travellers have little choice but to comply, lest they risk the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) not letting them in.

“I was mad that they went through my phone,” said Anderson, who described himself as “privacy advocate,” but he tried to rationalize the experience nonetheless.

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