Judge Puts the Brakes on Phone Searches at U.S. Borders

By Accura News on 13 November 2019
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IMG_2487 (1)A federal judge in Boston ruled Tuesday that U.S. Customers and Border Patrol agents cannot search devices carried by international travelers at ports of entry without suspecting them of a crime.  The ruling puts a limit on what has become a growing practice today.

The court’s decision followed a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union that challenged the government’s long-standing authority to search such devices without a warrant.

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper said in her ruling that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution provided protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and that it required authorities to have a reasonable and individualized suspicion of criminal activity.

The exception to U.S. law that allows customs agents to search travelers’ belongings without a warrant “is not limitless and must still be reasonable,” she wrote in her ruling. Agents must demonstrate suspicion that a particular arriving traveler’s digital devices contain contraband before conducting a search that would tap into troves of personal photos and data including legal documents and social-media posts, Judge Casper said.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)