Man says passport copied on iPad gained him entry into U.S.
January 4th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Man says passport copied on iPad gained him entry into U.S.

[Updated at 5 p.m. ET Friday] U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the "assertion that a traveler was admitted into the U.S. using solely a scanned image of his passport on an iPad is categorically false."

The Canadian man who made the claim had a driver's license and a birth certificate, "which the [U.S. border officer] used to determine identity and citizenship in order to admit the traveler into the country," CBP said in a statement released this week.

Scanned images are not accepted forms of identification, the CBP said.

[Initial post, 4:01 p.m. ET Wednesday] Forgot your passport? There’s an iPad for that.

At least in the singular case of a Montreal photographer who left home without the important document on his way to the United States. Martin Reisch said he was able to show a scanned copy of his passport to an American border guard and was given entry into the U.S., according to news reports.

To be sure, the incident was not without trepidation. "There was a slight hesitation; he didn't really seem like he was impressed," Reisch told CBC News. But the guard soon gave him back his iPad, and he was on his way to Vermont.

But isn't this a technological breakthrough? Could this be the Apple-white dawn of a new age of digital facsimile?What would Steve Jobs have thought?

“He’d probably say: ‘Here’s something to work on for the future.’ Maybe have some kind of digital certification or encryption to let people travel like this,” Reisch told The Montreal Gazette.

The only problem? A scanned or photocopied passport is not usually accepted.

According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, Canadian citizens entering the U.S. are required to present either a passport; a valid photo ID;  NEXUS or FAST cards, which are frequent traveler programs between the two countries; or a certificate verifying a person's Indian status.

Brian Masse, a member of the Canadian Parliament, told the Gazette that a scanned copy "is not a secure document. That could be altered, and could also lead to some precedents that would jeopardize (border) security."

Reisch told the paper, “I hope the biggest thing to come out of this is that it becomes a catalyst to change the rules.”

What do you think? Is it time for a digital ID?

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Filed under: Canada • U.S. • World
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. tokyo joe

    with the acceptance of a digital ID we are getting closer to have a mark in our hand or forehead as predicted by the Bible in the book of Revelation... Get ready we are closer to that than we think....

    January 5, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      the koran says otherwise.....
      actually if u need a book to aid u to our future pick up some STAR TREK NOVELS as they have more believable and correct thigns in them than some thing dudes high on opiates wrote to control the masses

      January 5, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarek

      Live long and prosper, and may Spock save your soul

      January 5, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Where's my chip? I need my chip.

      January 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. unretired05

    I hope it's a catalyst to enforce the rules.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rob

    End of the world? I've been hearing predictions about that since the 1970's when I was a little kid. It's just a story, and a very very old one at that. Getting back on subject, we should continue to follow current protocol until the Department of State modifies it. I'm very careful not to leave home without my passport when travelling.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. C

    End of world seems overly dramatic. I think it's just another step towards eliminating paper. Of course, with that comes adding more hardware garbage disposal. Seems like a good thing to me.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. Whynot

    I don't see much of a problem here. The guard can check the Passport Serial number and name against his database – business as usual. The only plausible problem here is the possibility that the man's passport was seized recently and he was attempting to flee. BUT, I would hope that with that court sanctioned (or other legal) action, there would be a database list or a flag that would go up when entering the individuals passport serial number.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    Once again, CNN late to the dance. The guy is lying. US Border Services have already said they used 2 pieces of ID – his birth certificate and license. They do not accept digital copies at the border. Anyone who thinks so is misinformed.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. JimBob

    I'd like to see us able to implant an RFID chip in our wrists that allows us to identify ourselves and pay for items on our credit or debit cards at McDonalds and WaWa.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Winston Smith

      And so would BIG BROTHER. You are a clueless sheep if you honestly believe implanting a personal ID/tracking device into your person is a good thing...

      January 5, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. Michael

    This event simply represents the wrong way to bring about change. This officer should be reassigned to the Afghan-Iraq border, where rules most likely don't mean much. With his simplistic approach, the security of both Canada and the US was potentially compromised. With all the press this received, it's no wonder that there will be additional attempts to use an iPad or other tablet in lieu of a real passport.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      You mean Iran?

      January 5, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      EXACTLY this arrogant border guards has NO ONE to answer too and NO ONE oversees what they are doing....

      January 5, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Kas

    If the person was not a white Canadian, then the entry was not possible.. I emphasize on the "white"

    January 5, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • You have got to be kidding

      Another race issue? Give me a break.

      January 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Roscoe Chait

    Why don't we have a bar code with our ID tattooed on the back of our heads and be done with it already. We're heading in that direction anyway. Maybe this is a way we can make some money, too–have an advertisement placed in the bar code. "I am Joe Smith and I like Coors beer." Could work.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. bspurloc

    this is a severe security breach..... Border Guards need to stick to the laws and stop being arrogant idiots. anyone who thinks they are not has never dealt with any. I especially loved watching a border guard on the canada line YELLING at a French Canadian to walk in the walking lines after he got into the building. The dude didnt know english which was quite obvious but the dude kept yelling at him he had no idea why so he goes back outside to look for something on the ground... THEN the arrogant idiot finally realized this dude has no idea why your being a pr ick to him.

    January 5, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |

    So let's take it to the next level-I'll scan my Passport Card to my laptop, download THAT image to my cell phone, and use the cell phone image at the border. Think it will work? I will also offer a DNA swab collection! And a hair root follicle! One of those has to work!

    January 5, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |

    Thank you CNN for posting our advertisement. The check is in the mail.

    January 5, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. DC

    I went to get my car registration renewed and I couldn't find my current insurance card. I had the insurance guy e-mail me a copy and I showed it to them on my I-phone. I really didn't think they would accept it but they did!

    January 5, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. mostdope92

    so terriost can make a fake passport and enter our country to kill US citizens. Nice job Apple!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
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