Supreme Court Weighs in on Warrantless Searches of Phones, Laptops at Border

A lawsuit has been brought before the Supreme Court by eight plaintiffs challenging warrantless searches of phones and other devices at the U.S. border, reports USA Today. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports it performed 40,913 so-called basic searches of electronic devices in 2019, a 22 percent increase from the prior fiscal year. Those searches involve an officer looking through a phone – reading emails, texts and calendar items – without the help of third-party software. Varying opinions by different appeals courts on border officials authority in these circumstances around the country means that an international passenger entering the United States at Boston Logan International Airport faces a different set of rules than if that same passenger touches down in Los Angeles.

The government told the high court in May that federal agencies “enforce a wide range of federal laws at the border” and said that the court’s past precedents permit the device searches while the Biden administration said that the plaintiffs have not established what happened when agents seized their phones. In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said searches have helped to detect terrorist activity and thwart international crimes. The American Civil Liberties Union, argues that phones, computers and other devices chock full of personal information should be subject to a higher standard than a passenger’s luggage.

via The Crime Report

June 22, 2021 at 11:06AM