The Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties just filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of 11 travellers whose devices were searched at the US border; they assert that warrantless device searches violate the constitutional restriction on searches without probable cause.
The Trump administration's CBP has significantly ramped up border device searches, and is on track to conduct three times more searches in 2017 than the CBP performed in 2016.
The plaintiffs include Sidd Bikkannavar, a US-born NASA JPL scientist who was detained by CBP and coerced into divulging authentication information for his devices, putting classified data at risk.
The plaintiffs include a military veteran, journalists, students, an artist, a NASA engineer, and a business owner. Several are Muslims or people of color. All were reentering the country from business or personal travel when border officers searched their devices. None were subsequently accused of any wrongdoing. Officers also confiscated and kept the devices of several plaintiffs for weeks or months—DHS has held one plaintiff's device since January. EFF, ACLU, and the ACLU of Massachusetts are representing the 11 travelers.
"People now store their whole lives, including extremely sensitive personal and business matters, on their phones, tablets, and laptops, and it's reasonable for them to carry these with them when they travel. It's high time that the courts require the government to stop treating the border as a place where they can end-run the Constitution," said EFF Staff Attorney Sophia Cope.