U.S. Government Searches of Travelers’ Phones and Computers Up Sharply

January 6th, 2018

Via: cnet:

US Customs and Border Patrol searched more phones and laptops at the border in 2017 — 30,200 devices total.

The agency released those numbers Friday along with updated guidelines on how to conduct the searches, which have become a hot button issue under the administration of President Donald Trump. A lawsuit from the ACLU claims the searches violate constitutional rights to privacy, but the government says border searches are exempted from these protections for the sake of national security.

“In this digital age, border searches of electronic devices are essential to enforcing the law at the US border and to protecting the American people,” John Wagner, a deputy executive assistant commissioner at Customs and Border Patrol, said in a statement.

Travelers can be subjected to the searches whether or not they’re US citizens. Border Patrol agents have conducted the searches since before Trump’s election. The number of searches increased by about 59 percent from 2016 to 2017, the year Trump took office.

The searches can reveal everything on a traveler’s phone, tablet or computer, from vacation photos to potentially sensitive documents like business records or health information. In July, the US Department of Homeland Security said its authority to search electronic devices didn’t extend to information stored in the cloud that a device might be able to access. Customs and Border Patrol is run under the auspices of Homeland Security.

One Response to “U.S. Government Searches of Travelers’ Phones and Computers Up Sharply”

  1. Dennis Says:

    “In July, the US Department of Homeland Security said its authority to search electronic devices didn’t extend to information stored in the cloud”

    Because the NSA’s already got that one covered…?

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