Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Darrell Mcdonald

US Customs And Border Protection Sets New Rules For Searching Electronic Devices

US Customs And Border Protection Sets New Rules For Searching Electronic Devices

They are also instructed to document passwords only for the purposes of opening a phone or other device, according to the directive.

Searches of electronic devices should be carried out in the presence of the individual whose devices is being scrutinized unless there are concerns regarding national security or officer safety, the directive states.

Border searches have been controversial for years, but the proliferation of tablets and smartphones and the increase in the amount of personal information people store on them has made the devices a juicy target for searches - but also raised questions about limits.

If an agent is presented with an electronic device that is locked with a passcode or any other security mechanism, they can ask the traveler to unlock the device. A basic search is a review of the content on the phone.

Any agent may also keep copies of the information contained on an electronic device for a "reasonable" period of time to conduct the search, which "should not exceed five days".

If someone refuses to unlock a device, the device can be detained by CBP.

More news: Debra Messing calls out E! for failing to pay employees equally

Despite the controversy, the CBP says that it only searches a very small percentage of devices compared to the number of travelers passing through every year (0.007% last year, for example).

Electronic device border searches have always been a controversial issue, one that has at times resulted in things like a NASA employee being forced to expose highly sensitive government data.

"It is positive that CBP's policy would at least require officers to have some level of suspicion before copying and using electronic methods to search a traveler's electronic device", Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel at the ACLU, said in a statement. But the practice has drawn fire from privacy advocates who argue the government shouldn't be able to search devices without warrants or probably cause.

Under the CBP policies, US custom officials are instructed to ask travelers to turn off their data transmission capability, such as putting a phone in airplane mode, before an officer looks at the phone, so that cloud data won't inadvertently be viewed. The agency's officers nabbed 14,131 pounds of meth coming into US ports in FY 2012, according to the news release.

In the month of August, agents searched the electronic devices of 3,133 travelers, according to CBP data.

CBP is authorized to search any device of any global traveler, no matter they are US citizens or not, as they leave or enter the United States, similar to a bag search.

Like this: