March 23, 2012

Don't Bring Comics to Canada

Basically, you're crazy if you take a laptop across the Canadian border.

The standards are so broad that almost any kind of document, electronic or printed, text or image, could potentially put you at catastrophic risk.

And it doesn't matter whether whatever you have on your laptop is, in fact, perfectly legal and above-board, even by these standards. The mere suspicion of border guards (who even at their best are hardly legal experts) can be enough to launch a two-year ordeal and ruinous expense, even when the charges are ultimately dismissed.

And as bad as this kid had it, he did have support from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and a competent legal team working for him. You might not, and probably won't, be that lucky.

Posted by Dr. Frank at March 23, 2012 02:13 PM

That's insane. I cross the border often (I'm from PA but moved to Toronto, so I visit family a lot) and much of the time they don't even check my ID, nevertheless my car or belongings. He must have scored a random search. But really... comics? I didn't realize the definition was so vague.

Posted by: Stacie at March 23, 2012 03:00 PM

Yes, he was unlucky to be one of the ones scrutinized. It may have been random, or there may have been some "profiling" involved, e.g. young, male, first time visitor.

I used to travel to and from Canada fairly often with my band, in the days before everyone carried "devices." We were stopped and searched and interrogated every single time. What they said they were looking for back then was drugs and (kind of comically) "switchblades" -- you know, the kind of stuff rock bands are known for carrying. But then, as now, it was really a pretext for a fishing expedition. It was always a hassle, but at least we knew what was proscribed and that we didn't have any of it. Now that the contraband is information, it's pretty much impossible to know for sure, especially when it all turns on the subjective judgement of an ill-trained border guard. I'm sure this guy thought he was completely in the clear. Oops.

Be careful, Stacie.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at March 23, 2012 03:21 PM

Do you know if this extends to smart phones/tablets? Because the distinction between them in terms of actual content is sort of negligible.

Posted by: Nathan Pensky at March 24, 2012 12:22 AM

I'm sure they do include all electronic devices, as well as just about anything else they can find. I don't know specifics about the Canadian procedures but I have read reports of US border agents at airports summarily copying the contents of iPhones onto flash drives, to be perused at their leisure later.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at March 24, 2012 03:55 AM

That democracy thing was cool. Nice while it lasted.

Posted by: Anoushiravan at March 24, 2012 04:59 AM
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