US Senate Bill Would Protect Electronic Devices From Warrantless Search At The Border

Posted by at 3:16 pm on May 23, 2019

A proposed bipartisan law in the Senate would require a warrant for border agents to search electronic devices such as phones, or demand access to online accounts such as social media.

The law protects all digital content of devices, and requires a warrant for passwords, PINs, and biometric authentication such as a fingerprint or face. It would prevent any agent of the government from denying entry to the US (or delaying entry for more than four hours) for refusing to provide device access.

The law does include limited exceptions for immediate risk of death, organized crime, conspiracies threatening national security, and threats to public safety or health. The law also places new restrictions on retaining data extracted from devices.

The new law would apply to all US citizens and permanent residents entering and exiting the US. A similar bill is being introduced in the House.

In 2018, the Department of Homeland Security conducted more than 33,000 device searches. The ability to conduct warrantless device searches at the border has been challenged in court by the ACLU.

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