Trump administration sued over warrantless smartphone searches at US borders

With the boundary wall fight looming large in Congress, yet another kind of battle at the edge is heating up. On Wednesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit with the Department of Homeland Security over warrantless boundary searches. In the instance, Alasaad v. Duke, two associations will represent 11 individuals who had U.S. border representatives search their computers and smartphones with no kind of warrant. Elaine Duke is your current acting secretary of DHS after General John Kelly’s move into the innermost White House circle as chief of staff.

The plaintiff details from the case are pretty interesting. Ten of the 11 are U.S. citizens with the outlier being a permanent resident. According to the EFF, several are Muslims and people of color who have presumably been singled out by border agentss pursuit of traveling and immigration policies targeting those classes. The plaintiff group includes a NASA engineer, students, journalists and a veteran who had been returning into the U.S. from global travel in the time of their searches. Some of the individuals had their telephones held by boundary officers for months, though none have been accused of any specific offense.

The plaintiff was on his way back from a holiday to Chile when a Customs and Border Protection officer at the Houston airport forced him to unlock his telephone with his password and hand it on. The officer took the phone explaining that the bureau used “calculations” to analyze its content. In other cases, a plaintiff alleges that he was physically attacked by border agents who confiscated his unlocked smartphone. The EFF launch offers the complete list of all plaintiffs and their tales.

“The authorities can’t use the boundary for a dragnet to search through our private data,” ACLU attorney Esha Bhandari said of the case, filed in the Massachusetts U.S. District Court. “Our electronic devices contain enormous amounts of information that can paint a detailed picture of our lives, including contact lists, texts, emails, photos, work files, and financial or medical records. The Fourth Amendment requires that a warrant is got by the authorities before it can look for the contents of laptops and smartphones . ”

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