A federal court in Boston showed the answer to a great uncertainty that thousands of travelers have when crossing the board gate of the United States. Are they allowed to search my smartphone/cell phone?
The court dictated that searching of smartphones/cellphones and laptop of international travelers, without credible suspicion from the government, violate the Fourth Amendment of the US.
What does the Fourth Amendment say?
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
BREAKING: In a major victory for privacy, a federal court ruled today that the government’s suspicionless searches of international travelers’ smartphones and laptops at airports and other U.S. ports of entry violate the Fourth Amendment. pic.twitter.com/SJDIERJdV5— ACLU (@ACLU) November 12, 2019
The ruling came after a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented 11 travelers who, when crossing the border gate, their cell phones and laptops were searched, without any suspicion.
"This decision significantly promotes the Fourth Amendment protections for the millions of international travelers who enter the United States each year," said Esha Bhandari, an ACLU attorney.
CBP or ICE officials are now prohibited from searching cell phones without having any individual suspicion of contraband, said ACLU in a statement.
In the last year the searching of those devices increased, with 33 thousand cell phone searches by the CBP in 2018, four times more than what was recorded three years ago.