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Flipper Zero banned in Canada, so I bought one

Why the Canadian federal government is trying to ban an educational wireless hacking device

Published at: 2024-02-22

I didn't know anything about the Flipper Zero

The first I heard about the Flipper Zero was a post on HackerNews on Feb 8, 2024 pointing to this web page by the Canadian government:

Federal action on combatting auto theft

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada will work with Canadian companies, and the automotive industry, to develop new solutions to protect vehicles against theft and to assist with recovery of stolen vehicles. ISED will pursue all avenues to ban devices used to steal vehicles by copying the wireless signals for remote keyless entry, such as the Flipper Zero, which would allow for the removal of those devices from the Canadian marketplace through collaboration with law enforcement agencies.

The Flipper Zero is a "portable multi-tool for pentesters and geeks in a toy-like body. It loves hacking digital stuff, such as radio protocols, access control systems, hardware, and more. It's fully open-source and customizable, so you can extend it in whatever way you like."

Looks like a fun toy, and it's super cute with the Dolphin logo: flipper-zero

I immediately placed an order and luckily it arrived before it got seemingly delisted from the official reseller in Canada,

The Streisand effect

The Streisand effect refers to when an attempt to ban or erase something backfires and brings more attention to it. In this case, I'm certain plenty of hobbyists and tinkerers bought this device, or had their attention brought to it, as a direct result of hearing of the ban, as I did.

I have plenty of other projects to work on, so it wasn't strictly necessary to pick up a new toy. But, again, look how cute it is:


Dodgy reasons to ban

The site contains a petition and many well-reasoned arguments.

Car theft is a big issue in Canada. The Flipper Zero, while a cool device, is a toy. Serious car manufacturers should not be making vehicles that can be stolen with a toy. Why would the government target an educational tool instead of manufacturer negligence or uncontrolled crime? They're either toothless or clueless.