Border Inspections on Electronic Devices Reaches Record High

MixMore than 30,000 US passengers have had their electronic devices checked at airports last year

MixMore than 30,000 US passengers have had their electronic devices checked at airports last year

The government inspected a record number of worldwide travelers' electronic devices in the last budget year.

"The agency said it searched 30,200 devices, but the inspections affected 0.007 percent of the 397 million travellers - American citizens as well as foreign visitors - who arrived from overseas during the 12-month period that ended September 30", the Washington Post reported.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government inspected a record number of global travelers' electronic devices past year, expanding a practice that has drawn alarm from privacy advocates.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, US border authorities searched a record number of cellphones and other devices at USA points of entry a year ago.

The changes come as searches continue to spike: Officers searched 30,200 devices a year ago, which was up more than 50 percent over 2016.

CBP said that the searches were not a "policy directive" but conducted in lieu of the fact that electronic devices are important sources of information on looming security threats.

The agency said agents have discovered evidence relating to "terrorism and other national security measures, human and bulk cash smuggling, contraband, and child pornography", due to the searches.

CBP is allowed to search any device carried by any traveler as they enter or leave the US.

"It is positive that CBP's policy would at least require officers to have some level of suspicion before copying and using electronic methods to search a traveler's electronic device".

Agents are also prohibited from retrieving any information that is stored remotely, such as data stored in the cloud.

Travelers can be subjected to the searches whether or not they're U.S. citizens.

An "advanced" search requires an officer to have reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior and approval of a supervisor. Border Patrol agents have conducted the searches since before Trump's election. A lawsuit from the ACLU claims the searches violate constitutional rights to privacy, but the government says border searches are exempted from these protections for the sake of national security.

Any officer can decide to conduct a "basic" search based on their own judgment, and the search usually entails scrolling through call logs, photo streams and the like.

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