Federal agents can search your phone at the US border — here’s how to protect your personal information

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
By Paul Martin

Rebecca Harrington
BusinessInsider.com
3/14/2017

When you’re entering the United States, whether at an airport or a border crossing, federal agents have broad authority to search citizens and visitors alike.

And that can include flipping through your phone, computer, and any other electronic devices you have with you.

As the US Customs and Border Protection outlines in a tearsheet it provides to people at the border, federal agents can seize and search your phone, and even make a copy of it to have forensic experts analyze its contents off-site.

Department of Homeland Security data reviewed by NBC News found that agents looked through almost 25,000 phones in 2016 alone, a huge spike. In 25 cases NBC analyzed by talking to people who had their phones searched at the border and verifying the instances with experts, 23 of the victims were Muslim.

How can they do that?
The Supreme Court decided in 1976 and 2004 that people have fewer claims to their Fourth Amendment privacy rights granted by the Constitution when entering the country, because the government has to protect its borders.

While the court has ruled that police can’t search peoples’ phones inside the country without a warrant because they contain troves of personal information, it hasn’t yet decided on a case about phone searches at the border.

“Searches of people at the border is an area where there’s a wide gap between what we think people’s rights are and what their facts are on the ground,” Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Business Insider. “Various courts haven’t had an opportunity to weigh in on these issues yet, so CBP is operating with a lot of claimed authority and a lot of latitude.”

The Rest…HERE

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