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Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2017 09:19:49 -1000
Excerpt from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/22/us/politics/us-border-privacy-phone-searches.html
WASHINGTON -- They spoke of being humiliated and shaken. They described being made to feel like a criminal. And they maintained that their rights had been violated.
Grievances over lost privacy run through a trove of roughly 250 complaints
by people whose laptops and phones were searched without a warrant as they
crossed the United States border. Filed with the Department of Homeland
Security since 2011, mostly during the Obama administration, these stories add a personal dimension to a growing debate over rights, security and technology.
In January 2016, a Virginia woman wrote of experiencing a blatant abuse of privacy after she and her 19-year-old son were pulled aside for extra screening at Newark Liberty International Airport upon returning from Spain.
``They took his laptop and cellphone and proceeded to go through both after
getting the passwords from him,'' she wrote in her complaint, adding that
her phone was taken and browsed through ``without my consent,'' as well.
While the officers were cordial, she said, ``the line between security screening and blatant search and seizure without cause or explaining is not.''
American courts have long permitted government agents who protect the borders to search, without a warrant or any specific basis for suspicion, the possessions carried by people as they cross. But smartphones and other personal electronics contain vastly more private information than suitcases.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
have filed a lawsuit in Boston arguing that a warrant should be required to
search such devices at the border. Last week, the Trump administration
asked a judge to dismiss the case.
The lawsuit comes amid a surge in agents looking through -- and sometimes
copying data from -- cellphones and laptops. Midway through fiscal year
2017, Customs and Border Protection was on pace to search 30,000 travelers' electronics -- more than tripling the annual number by that agency since
2015, when it searched 8,503 people's devices.
The complaints were submitted to the Department of Homeland Security's
Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. In many cases, the people list a set of grievances in addition to feeling their privacy was violated, like being detained for hours and missing connecting flights. The Knight First
Amendment Institute at Columbia University obtained the filed complaints under the Freedom of Information Act and provided them to The New York
Times. [...] <https://knightcolumbia.org/>
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