Many people were shocked and outraged over the story I relayed about a U.S. citizen, in fact, a NASA scientist, who, after returning from racing solar cars abroad was required by Custom and Border Patrol (CBP) agents to hand over his NASA issued mobile phone and password. The story raises all sorts of privacy issues for the individual and for employers.
Yes, folks, there are laws that govern that activity by CBP. For more information about how to address this issue if it happens to you, click here.
In response to that and many other stories about questionable searches and seizures of mobile devices by CBP, this week, the Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University (Knight) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requesting that they fork over the statistics and policy reasons of how many electronic devices they have searched or confiscated at the border.
Knight had previously requested the statistics and policy records through a Freedom of Information Act request, which has been ignored by the agencies. Knight calls the search of U.S. citizens’ electronic devices as “indiscriminate” which raise constitutional questions under the First and Fourth Amendments. It further alleges that border agents are targeting U.S. citizens who are Muslims in the searches and seizures. It is alleged that they are also targeting photo-journalists.
We will be watching this case closely and will keep you posted on developments.