A Canadian man was refused entry into the United States because of his hook-up-app profile. US Customs and Border Patrol allegedly read the Vancouver man’s gay hookup app Scruff, and they suspected that the was a sex a worker because of messages that they read. According to reports, the man André’s profile said that he was “looking for loads,” and officers assumed he was getting paid for sex.
The 30-year-old was visiting the US to see his boyfriend in October and was hoping for swift entry since Canada has pre-clearance to the US at the airport. He was soon brought in for secondary inspection and an officer legally searched his phone and computer by obtaining his passwords.
“I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, so I gave them the password and then I sat there for at least an hour or two. I missed my flight,” André says. “He came back and just started grilling me. ‘Is this your email?’ and it was an e-mail attached to a Craigslist account for sex ads. He asked me, ‘Is this your account on Scruff? Is this you on BBRT?’ I was like, ‘Yes, this is me.’”
“I could tell just by his nature that he had no intentions of letting me through. They were just going to keep asking me questions looking for something,” he says. “So I asked for the interrogation to stop. I asked if I go back to Canada am I barred for life? He said no, so I accepted that offer,” according to ProudFM.
Obviously upset, he returned to Canada with the hope of visiting the US again. Arriving at the airport for his next trip to New Orleans, he brought pay stubs, bank statements, letters from employer, a lease, and a phone contract, but was again selected for secondary inspection. Using data saved (including his passwords), they searched his phone and found no trace of hookup apps. Officers apparently felt that this was suspicious enough to not let him in again.
“They went through my computer. They were looking through Word documents,” André says. “I had nude photos of myself on my phone, and they were questioning who this person was. It was really humiliating and embarrassing.”
“They said, ‘Next time you come through, don’t have a cleared phone,’ and that was it. I wasn’t let through. He said I’m a suspected escort. You can’t really argue with them because you’re trapped,” he says.
According to PrideFM: “There are several websites that offer advice to protect the privacy of your data at the border, but ultimately, if US Customs officers want your data, they will either get it or keep you out of the country. You can limit the risk to your privacy by not traveling with your devices or deleting apps, messages and photos from your devices, and logging out of social media sites before you travel.”