Can Border Agents Search Your Phone?

Bloomberg BNA Data Protection Report

24 Mar 2017
Reproduced with permission from World Data Protection Report, 17 WDPR 03, 3/28/17. Copyright 2017 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033)

There have been numerous reports from individuals entering the U.S. of border agents searching their phones and laptop computers. Many of those individuals are U.S. citizens. Although these events have been in the news recently and appear to be on the rise, this practice is not new. According to CNN, quoting a U.S. customs agency spokesman, border agents searched 4,444 cellphones and 320 other electronic devices in 2015. In 2016, searches of electronic devices at the U.S. borders rose to 23,877, according to the same source. In countries such as China and Russia, border agents have been searching phones and laptops for years, and many companies have developed policies to provide guidance to employees traveling to those countries. Companies are now struggling with how to advise and craft policies for employees traveling to and from the U.S. with electronic devices that may contain sensitive data.

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