The US Department of Homeland Security released a new policy on border searches of electronic devices along with a privacy impact assessment.
Courts have generally found a ‘border exception’ to the fourth amendment (including even 100 miles from a border) that allows the government to search and seize most anything it wishes without particularized suspicion.
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Existing policy however didn’t deal specifically with password protected and encrypted information, even though Customs and Border Patrol would detain people unless they turned over access to information on their devices.
Now the US has formally adopted a policy that says, “travelers are obligated to present electronic devices and the information contained therein in a condition that allows inspection of the device and its contents.”
The government says it can retain your password, examine your information, and even keep your laptop, cell phone, storage devices, etc. if they can’t fully inspect what’s on it.
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Papers, Please explains that “passwords for electronic devices, and images of data extracted from electronic devices, will be stored in the Automated Targeting System.”
They’ve been doing it anyway. Now they formally claim the authority to do it.