US court: routine searches of mobile devices at border unconstitutional


The suspected independent search of mobile devices by US border officials violates the US Constitution. This has been decided by the Federal District Court of Massachusetts and has largely justified the plaintiffs, who were supported by the civil rights organizations ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The case "Alasaad vs. Nielsen" (Case 17-cv-11730-DJC) had been brought to justice on behalf of 11 travelers "whose smartphones and laptops were searched at US entry points without any individual suspicion," the ACLU said , Their rights from the 4th amendment to the constitution were violated, the court said.

The procedure involved tens of thousands of practices per year by US border guards, including airport inspections, to inspect incoming and outgoing electronic mobile devices, often using forensic tools to retrieve all collectable digital storage data. In mid-2018, an application by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to dismiss the action as unfounded. The border guards would now have to lead an individual suspicion of illegal activities to carry out searches, explains the ACLU, The US government can still appeal against the verdict.

The US border police had argued before the court, among other things, that in 2017, only 0.007 percent of the hundreds of millions of travelers had been searched the IT equipment. However, the court did not accept that and stated that the actual number was underestimated. According to ACLU, there were 33,000 such searches in 2018, four times as many as in 2014. For example, the smartphone of one of the plaintiffs was searched, even though it contained extra secure communication with a lawyer. The civil rights activists also refer to a case in which a prospective student was denied entrybecause on his devices criticism of the US governments were found by his friends.

The ACLU now welcomes the ruling as a significant update to the constitutionally guaranteed rights of millions of travelers entering the United States each year. By ending the government's "suspected fishing expeditions", the court affirms that borders are not a legal vacuum and that "we will not lose our privacy rights when we travel". It would be a great day for travelers who could now cross the US's external borders without fear of the US government, without suspicion, completing the "extremely sensitive information" that we carry with us in our electronic devices the EFF.


. (TagsToTranslate) Privacy (t) search (t) border controls (t) smartphones (t) United States