Bipartisan bill would end warrantless border searches of US persons' data

Under the Protecting Data at the Border Act, devices "belonging to or in the possession of a United States person" (a citizen or Green Card holder) could no longer be searched at the border without a warrant. Agents would no longer be able to deny US persons entry or exit on the basis of a refusal to allow such a search (but they could seize the equipment).

It doesn't cover visitors or visa holders, but it does have bipartisan support in the Senate (Wyden D-OR; Paul R-KY) and the House (Polis D-CO; Farenthold R-TX).

The Customs and Border Protection agency conducted more warrantless device searches in Feb of 2017 than it did in all of 2015.

“Americans’ Constitutional rights shouldn’t disappear at the border,” said Wyden. “By requiring a warrant to search Americans’ devices and prohibiting unreasonable delay, this bill makes sure that border agents are focused on criminals and terrorists instead of wasting their time thumbing through innocent Americans’ personal photos and other data.”

Adds Rep. Farenthold, “Just because you cross the border doesn’t mean the government has a right to everything on your computer.”

Proposed Bill Would End Warrantless Searches Of Cellphones At U.S. Borders [Chris Morran/The Consumerist]