On Security

Going Abroad? Remember Your Digital Hygiene

Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor
Jan 10, 2018 | 23:52 GMT
A 2016 lawsuit is unlikely to cause a large change in U.S. border searches of electronic devices.

In September 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of 11 travelers whose phones and laptops were searched at the U.S. border without warrants.

(IStock)

As more and more travelers have begun carrying their cellphones and laptops abroad, the searching of these and other electronic devices by customs inspectors has become a contentious issue. On Jan. 4, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released an updated directive to its workers on the searching of electronic devices at border crossings. According to CBP statistics published on Jan. 5, the agency processed 397 million international travelers in fiscal year 2017 and searched 30,200 devices. This is an increase from the 19,051 device searches in fiscal year 2016, which recorded 390 million travelers. CBP noted the percentage of searches rose from .005 percent in 2016 to only .007 percent in 2017. But because of the increasing amount of personal information on these devices, travelers have been pushing back against these intrusions....

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