The Government Can Search Your Bags AND Your Digital Files When You Cross The US Border

Photo: kiwithing via Flickr

People were upset when the TSA brought full-body scanners to airports, but now the government says it can turn on your computer and look through your files when you cross the U.S. border, Ars Technica reports.Border patrol agents can search travellers’ laptops without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, the Department of Homeland Security revealed last week in an executive summary of an internal report on the issue.

The Fourth Amendment usually forbids authorities from searching someone or their belongings without a warrant or a reasonable suspicion. But courts have long said the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply along the border.

The DHS first announced its policy on searching electronic devices at the border without suspicion of wrongdoing in 2008. Over the next two years, immigrations agents dug through the mobile phones, laptops, and digital cameras of more than 6,500 travellers crossing the U.S. border, according to an ACLU analysis of DHS data.

These searches also violate First Amendment rights to free speech, the ACLU argues. It has filed a Freedom of Information Request demanding to see the government’s full report and analysis on border searches of electronics, instead of just the executive summary.

Read more analysis at Ars Technica. >

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