A United States Court of Appeals has ruled that Customs and Border Protection agents can perform basic and advanced searches on smartphones and laptops without a warrant.
The court decided that it is within Customs and Border Protection agents’ purview to perform in-depth searches of laptops and smartphones without the use of a warrant. According to Judge Sandra Lynch’s ruling, CBP agents can copy and review data at their discretion. Furthermore, “in-depth” searches fall within the scope of “permissible constitutional grounds.”
Even more appalling, federal agents can conduct such searches within 100 miles of the US border. That area covers pretty much all metropolitan areas near the US border.
Esha Bhandari, a deputy director at the ACLU reacted to the ruling, saying searches can give federal agents and border officers “unfettered access” to a plethora of private information. She added that they are upset with the ruling and that they are considering other options. This way, civil and privacy rights are not jeopardized when traveling.
On the other side of the specter, Judge Lyn said that it is up to the White House and Congress to bring forth clearer rules to provide better protection than what the Constitution can offer at the moment.