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What’s on your iPhone? Device searches by U.S. border officials are skyrocketing

What’s on your iPhone? Device searches by U.S. border officials are skyrocketing
[Photo: Flickr user Mike Goad]

International travelers headed to the U.S. should be prepared to hand over their smartphones. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol conducted 30,000 searches of international travelers’ electronic devices in 2017, a 50% increase, USA Today reports. The agency claims that it only searches through the phones and laptops of a small fraction of people traveling and that those searches have turned up evidence on terrorism, child pornography, violations of export controls and visa fraud.

On January 4, CBP issued new rules on electronic device border searches that clarify its search policy, but many people consider the searches to be both contentious and possibly unconstitutional as they let federal agents rifle through phones and laptops without warrants, probable cause, or anything other than a burning desire to see someone’s Facebook status. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which views device searches as “exceptionally intrusive,” has filed suit against these electronic border searches.

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