Did a Canadian Man Really Use His iPad To Enter the U.S. Without a Physical Passport?  

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 4 2012 4:22 PM

Did a Canadian Man Really Use His iPad To Enter the U.S. Without a Physical Passport?  

57151963
PITTSBURG, NH - MARCH 21: U.S. Border Patrol Agent Mike Clark walks to his vehicle on patrol along the Canadian border near the border crossing point March 21, 2006 at Pittsburg, New Hampshire. As American politicians continue to debate immigration reform Border Patrol agents work the northern border to prevent illegal entry. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A story circulating widely today says that a Canadian man who forgot his passport was able to enter the United States by showing his driver’s license, plus a scanned copy of his passport on his iPad. Martin Reisch, a 33-year-old freelance photographer from Montreal, told news outlets that a U.S. border patrol officer, who seemed “slightly annoyed,” decided to let him through, despite the lack of a hard passport, after spending a few minutes examining the scanned passport displayed on the iPad. Reisch used the opportunity to push for adoption of digital passports: "I see the future as 100 percent being able to cross with your identity on a digital device — it's just a matter of time,” he told the Associated Press.

But now U.S. Customs is calling the entire story bogus. In a statement, a spokeswoman 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. In this case, the individual had both a driver's license and birth certificate, which the CBP officer used to determine identity and citizenship in order to admit the traveler into the country.”

Advertisement

Meanwhile, Reisch has taken to Twitter to deny U.S. Customs’ denial, tweeting to one person, “uh actually i don't even know where my birth certificate is dude... but i definately didn't use it.”

The prospect of a secure digital passport is an interesting one. Who among us has not had at least a moment’s panic at the thought of having mislaid such an important document? But its adoption will have to take place through the slow, deliberate process involving both technology (to keep counterfeiters, terrorists, and other evildoers at bay) and international policy talks. This isn’t one-man mission territory.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.