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On what authority is cell phone use banned at Customs?

On what authority is cell phone use banned at Customs?

Old Jan 21, 11, 12:53 am
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On what authority is cell phone use banned at Customs?

In the airport waiting areas for both US and Canadian Customs there are signs purporting to prohibit the use of cell phones while in line. Recently I observed a US Customs guy yelling at pax waiting in a lengthy line who were using cell phones. On what authority is this prohibition made?
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Old Jan 21, 11, 1:44 am
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US & Canadian governments, similar rules I've seen in IMMIGRATION queues in many countries around the world
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Old Jan 21, 11, 2:08 am
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Originally Posted by alanR View Post
US & Canadian governments, similar rules I've seen in IMMIGRATION queues in many countries around the world
The OP was asking about Customs, not Immigration. OTOH I assume your error was to correct the question to read 'On what authority is cell phone use banned at immigration?".

I'd like to know the answer to both questions.
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Old Jan 21, 11, 2:09 am
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Maybe they are afraid that we'll take down notes about the customs hall
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Old Jan 21, 11, 2:33 am
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Perhaps they don't want the passengers having contact with anyone on the outside until they clear customs because they think that passengers will use their cell phones to commit illegal activity.
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Old Jan 21, 11, 2:45 am
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Firstly, I have NEVER seen such a notice anywhere but the USA. But, yes, I also would like to know under what authority these signs have been posted. I also doubt they would stand up to challenge -- seems blatantly unconstitutional to attempt to limit someone's speech like that.
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Old Jan 21, 11, 2:46 am
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There are big signs in the immigration area in US airports banning the use of phones and the staff there seem to monitor this pretty carefully. However, last time I went through IAD we spent 90 minutes waiting in line and they seemed a little more tolerant.
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Old Jan 21, 11, 3:17 am
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many airports have signs banning the use of cell phones in 'senstivie' areas which include both immigration and customs.

There are many reasons for this, but all are essentially for law enforcement purposes.

As a law enforcement officer you don't want a potential suspect tipping off that they have been caught, or that someone else has been caught doing an illegal activity. You also don't want cameras (on phone that are equipped with such) to take photos of sensitive information which may appear on computer screens. These can include crimial files which come up on early warning systems.

Countries banning cell phone use in the arrivals and customs hall include Australia, China, the UK and the USA just off the top of my head...
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Old Jan 21, 11, 3:26 am
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Originally Posted by polonius View Post
seems blatantly unconstitutional to attempt to limit someone's speech like that.
Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech refer to what you may say, not where you may say it.

Thus you have the right to stand in a public park and announce that American is the worst nation which ever existed but you do not have the right to walk into a public hearing of a Senate committee and start yelling how it is the most wonderful nation in the world.
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Old Jan 21, 11, 3:33 am
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Originally Posted by Sopwith View Post
In the airport waiting areas for both US and Canadian Customs there are signs purporting to prohibit the use of cell phones while in line. Recently I observed a US Customs guy yelling at pax waiting in a lengthy line who were using cell phones. On what authority is this prohibition made?
Originally Posted by ralfp View Post
The OP was asking about Customs, not Immigration. OTOH I assume your error was to correct the question to read 'On what authority is cell phone use banned at immigration?".

I'd like to know the answer to both questions.
Originally Posted by polonius View Post
Firstly, I have NEVER seen such a notice anywhere but the USA. But, yes, I also would like to know under what authority these signs have been posted. I also doubt they would stand up to challenge -- seems blatantly unconstitutional to attempt to limit someone's speech like that.

Why don't y'all just go ahead and make the calls you so desperately want to make in Customs Hall?

Have fun.
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Old Jan 21, 11, 3:57 am
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Originally Posted by LessO2 View Post
Why don't y'all just go ahead and make the calls you so desperately want to make in Customs Hall?

Have fun.
EXACTLY!!!

You are probably right and may even prove your point but the bottom line is that you will probably be enduring "Secondary Inspections" for the next 20 years...........but in the interest of being on the higher ground please let us know how that works out for you
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Old Jan 21, 11, 4:51 am
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I have seen these in the Canadian Immigration/Customs building at the Peace Bridge border crossing. However, as I was being processed and I needed an answer to a question that was available by someone at the office, they said it was fine to use the phone. I used it a second time, with permission, to notify my contacts in Canada that I was delayed in Immigration. As I was working directly with an agent at the time and calls were related to the situation, it did not seem to be a problem. Casual use is probably not permitted, but YMMV.
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Old Jan 21, 11, 4:58 am
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Originally Posted by Dovster View Post
Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech refer to what you may say, not where you may say it.
Are the parts of US airports used by ordinary passengers considered "Constitution-free" zones?
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Old Jan 21, 11, 5:10 am
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Originally Posted by LessO2 View Post
Why don't y'all just go ahead and make the calls you so desperately want to make in Customs Hall?

Have fun.
Well, your response doesn't really answer OP's original question and mine won't either, but I'll take on your response as a reason why it might be nice to be able to use a phone: If it's going to take THREE OR MORE FREAKING HOURS to get through immigration and customs (can't seem to do one without the other in the U.S.), I want to contact my airline to rebook myself on another flight and to text the same to my ride home from my final destination ASAP. Not three hours later when it's too late and I'm now stuck overnight and wasted my ride's time, all because of gov't inefficiency and an inability to lighten up on the rules on occasion when it's the gov'ts own darn fault. Have fun, indeed.

If Immigration and/or Customs can't process flights efficiently, then allow the pax to use a cell phone or a smart phone web browser until X point in the line. No, I can't see using a phone when you are close to being processed on either side, but if you are 2 hours back from seeing any agent, immigration or customs, then what the heck is the problem???

So, does anyone actually know why the rule is in place? And secondarily, why does it appear to annoy at least a couple of you that people are either asking why it exists?
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Old Jan 21, 11, 5:41 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Are the parts of US airports used by ordinary passengers considered "Constitution-free" zones?
Is the US Senate considered a "Constitution-free" zone? Start taking a position on any side of any issue while sitting in the gallery and see how long it takes for you to be escorted out -- and, if you are adamant enough, to be arrested.
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