03/09/2015 08:13 EDT | Updated 05/09/2015 05:59 EDT

Privacy lawyer warns against flying with 'intimate information'

A privacy expert in Halifax says you might want to clean out your smartphone before you cross the border.

When you're returning to Canada from vacation or a business trip, your smartphone is open to inspection, just like a suitcase. 

That surprised Quebec's Alain Philippon last week who got charged for refusing to give up his Blackberry password at the airport in Halifax.

David Fraser, a privacy lawyer with McInnes Cooper, said consider deleting anything private from your device before you fly.

"There’s a huge amount of intimate information you might not want to share with anybody. It might be completely lawful, but you don’t want to show it to people," he said.

Fraser says the quality and quantity of information stored on smartphones has changed dramatically in recent years.

It’s unclear if border officers can check banking and email apps, which themselves are password protected.

"I don't think they do, but it's one of those issues that will be argued over for the next little while," Fraser said.

Fraser says if you deal with private records professionally, it's best to wipe your devices clean before you hit customs.

"Under Nova Scotia law, if you’re a public servant, or a contractor for a public body, you can’t allow personal information outside of Canada," he said. "You should be very mindful of what you’re travelling with."