Thursday, March 23, 2017

Traveler Beware

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution is supposed to protect Americans from unreasonable search and seizure. It is under attack again!

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Apparently, the Fourth Amendment does not apply at the borders of the United States--or so Customs and Border Patrol officials would have us believe. 

As reported on NBC News, American citizens are having their personal cellphones searched against their will. 

This is an important situation. The willful dilution of the 4th Amendment is an unacceptable risk for all Americans. 

It is not an issue of, "why do I care if I don't have anything to hide?" It is an issue of we each have the right to privacy in the absence of probable cause. The  government has proven on multiple occasions that it cannot adequately protect the most sensitive secrets of the nation, what makes us think that they will protect an individuals personal information to include banking information and credit cards information any better?

Although case law from 150 years ago is cited to support the searches, somehow I do not believe that the wealth of data stored on cell phone were considered during that ruling.

The New York Times this morning has an article about safeguarding your data when crossing the border that makes for very interesting reading. 

This is an important issue. While the law may give them the right to go through the devices, it may not allow them to actually access the data. This will be playing out in the courts soon. It is one thing to examine and quite another to electronically copy all of the information contained on the device. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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