Like it or not, we are now living in an electronic police state. Is this the big brother finally comes into our lives? According to our government, our privacy protections disappear from the very moment we set foot in any airport.
Even though we are protected by the Fourth Amendment against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” the Customs and Border Protection folks are able to take advantage of exceptions to this piece of constitutional protection by search through our electronic devices at an airport and are not required to establish reasonable suspicion or even to get a search warrant.
Should we Allow Electronic Devices to be Searched?
It has become a problem and is now getting even worse. Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation decided to enter into a lawsuit on behalf of 11 travelers. The lawsuit is against the Department of Homeland Security. The plaintiffs are making the claim that suspicionless and warrantless searches on electronic devices at borders have violated their First and Fourth Amendments.
It appears that they may be right. CBP agents have gained enormous access to literally troves of personal data belonging to law-abiding citizens. Most people consider this as an affront to a person’s privacy and this access has to be revoked immediately.
Should Agents Be Allowed to Search Employer Devices?
For instance, we have the case where Sidd Bikkannavar, who is an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was subjected to an airport inspection in Houston. He was asked by agents for his passcode of a phone he owned.
This phone actually was issued by NASA, and even though Bikkannayar stated this fact, the agent demanded to have the code. Fearing that the phone would be seized and he might miss a connecting flight to LA, Bikkannavar gave in and provided the code.
After about 30 minutes, the agent came back and stated that the phone was analyzed with “algorithms” and no “derogatory” data was found.
The notion that an airport or border has become an area where privacies are reduced is really nothing new. And like Justice Rehnquist stated in 1977, in a case United States v. Ramsey, the very same Congress who proposed the Bill of Rights also passed the very first customs statute in the US too, and this gave officials complete authority to search “any ship or vessel, in which they shall have reason to suspect any goods, wares or merchandise subject to duty shall be concealed.”
However today, unlike 1977, over 75% of all American adults own a smartphone. And these little devices carry an enormous amount of personal data and even professional data. While CBP policies do not permit access to data located on remote servers, searches of data that reside on electronic devices can uncover many personal things like texts, photos, videos and also reveal the apps a person has chosen to download.
If you stop and think about it, many of these apps could reveal personal dating habits and even religious affiliations – information that should be protected. Because of current policies, travelers could legally be forced into giving CBP access this private and personal information without having any suspicions or legal justifications that any immigration laws were violated.
Even though these electronic device searches are rare, the amount of them has been on the rise across the last couple of years. And the searches are not always targeting those coming from terrorist hotspots, as one may think.
The fact is that we are now living in an electronic police state.
Read more here >> https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/24/the-new-electronic-police-state/