U.S. Border Patrol Can Take Away Your iPhone
Those of you in the U.S. planning to travel internationally in the near future may want to be careful. The Bush administration recently overturned a 22-year-old policy, granting the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency the ability to confiscate and search any small portable electronic devices, including iPhones and iPod touches, without probable cause.
The policies previously in place were enacted by President Ronald Reagan’s administration in 1986, in response to lawsuits by U.S. citizens who were questioned and searched. Now that those policies have been overturned, however, Homeland Security has the right to search and seize anything they believe may have incriminating or illegal documents on them, including iPhones. If an agent suspected you had something illegal on your iPhone, they could take it and look at it, possibly for days, and if they found anything illegal on it then you could be prosecuted.
Thankfully the “Travelers’ Privacy Protection Act” bill was recently introduced that would limit agent’s ability to invade travelers’ privacy. The bill was introduced by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). In the house, Adam Smith (D-WA) introduced H.R. 7118.
“Congress cannot allow DHS and CBP to turn our borders into Constitution-free zones,” added Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “Americans have the constitutional right to privacy, and that includes the sensitive and personal information we keep on electronic devices.”