Published on : Saturday, January 6, 2018
According to the new data, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have searched more than 29,200 arriving international travellers’ electronic devices marking a sharp increase of 59% than that searched in the previous year.
CBP official John Wagner said in a statement that in this digital age, border searches of electronic devices in essential to enforce the law at the US border and to protect the American people.
Mr. Wagner added that the agency “is committed to preserving the civil rights and civil liberties of those we encounter, including the small number of travellers whose devices are searched” and noted it had updated its search policies with a directive that vows to “protect the rights of individuals against unreasonable search and seizure”.
The electronic searches help to ‘detect evidence relating to terrorism and other national scurry matters human and bilk cash smuggling, contraband defend child pornography’ and also help to enforce the immigration law.
Some civil and privacy liberties advocates have however opposed to the searches stating them unlawful. In the last year, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued the government over the searches conducted on 11 passengers. According to them, the searches and the seizures of laptops and the mobile phones violated the Constitution.
In fact, one of the complaint stated that the effect of searches of mobile devices on individual privacy and expression can hardly be overstated. “Travellers’ electronic devices contain massive amounts of personal information, including messages to loved ones, private photographs of family members, opinions and expressive material, and sensitive medical, legal, and financial information,” stated the complaint.