Crossing Borders With Digital Devices

Lots of lawyers have been worried about having their digital devices inspected at the U.S. border in recent years, and more so under the current administration – but there are other countries that are not generally trusted either.

The New York City Bar Association has issued an ethics opinion telling lawyers they need to take special steps to protect confidential and privileged client information in such circumstances – possibly including using ‘burner’ phones or laptops (ones with no confidential info, and that the owner can burn or otherwise just throw away after coming back from the country in question).

The ABA Journal has an article on the topic too. I note that many of the comments are sceptical about the need to take such drastic measures.

What is the prevailing wisdom here? Are there formal opinions or rulings from anyone?

What is the practice? Do you worry when you go to the US? Europe? China?


  1. OBA’s Just Magazine has a current article on this issue by Molly Reynolds and Emma Loignon-Giroux:

  2. No sure why Canadian lawyers are particularly concerned about the US, the Canadian border is treated as a defacto charter free zone, and the CBSA routinely goes through peoples phones.