The US Gov Can Download the Entire Contents of Your Computer at Border Crossings

Thursday, April 9, 2015
By Paul Martin
April 8, 2015

Hundreds of thousands of travelers cross US borders every day. And none of them—save the precious few with diplomatic immunity—have any right to privacy, according to Department of Homeland Security documents recently obtained by MuckRock.

The US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Privacy Impact Assessment for the Border Searches of Electronic Devices outlines the finer points of border officials’ authority to search the electronic devices of citizens and non-citizens alike crossing the US border. What becomes clear is that this authority has been broadly interpreted to mean that any device brought into or out of the country is subject to the highest level of scrutiny, even when there is no explicit probable cause.

Based upon little more than the opinion of a single US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer, any device can be searched and its contents read. With approval from a supervisor, the device can be seized, its contents copied in full, or both.

How easy is it for officials to seize your data?

With the exception of foreign and domestic officials with diplomatic immunity, everyone who legally crosses a US border undergoes a primary inspection. This is a familiar routine for most travelers: A CBP official checks your documents, glances between you and your passport photo, and perhaps asks whether you’re travelling to the United States for business or pleasure.

The Rest…HERE

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