According to the Government, People Under Arrest Have More Rights Than Travelers at the Border
When Americans are standing on U.S. soil, we have constitutional rights. The government can’t go into your house and see what’s in your drawers or poke around in the attic. Police officers can’t take your phone and thumb through your photos without a good reason.
If you’re at the border or certain airport areas, the administration believes those protections evaporate. Without cause, government officials argue they have full authority to require Americans to unlock their phones, laptops, and other digital devices; search through our apps and files; and even copy everything on them.
Not only do they believe they have this authority in theory — these searches are happening now, and they’re becoming more common every day. The U.S. government has nearly doubled the number of searches at the border in the past year, according to new numbers released this week by Customs and Border Patrol. There are even stories of Americans being tackled when they refuse to unlock their phones at the border.
That’s why a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate and House introduced the Protecting Data at the Border Act last week. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and I stood together to put commonsense limits on border searches of digital devices.
Our bill is simple. It says if agents want to search your digital devices at the border they need to get a warrant, just like law enforcement would need anywhere else in America. The bill includes an emergency exception to bypass the warrant requirement if time is a factor.
Second, it requires informed, written consent before the government may request and obtain assistance from a U.S. person to access data on a locked device or account, such as by disclosing their password or providing access. The bill also prohibits the government from delaying or denying entry to a U.S. person if he or she refuses to provide such assistance.
Full Bill and Summary:
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