Homeland Security Network Blog
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Homeland Security: New Rules for Searching Electronic Devices at Border
The Department of Homeland Security on Friday released new policies on searching electronic devices at the US border.
The new policies, replacing guidance from 2009, clarify government search powers when it comes to such devices, which have exploded in both use and capability in recent years. The policies place some new restrictions on how extensively electronics can be searched, but still give latitude to US officials.
The government has wide legal authority to search the belongings without a warrant of travelers at the border — a term that applies to all entry points to the US from abroad. The new policy offers guidance to US officials on to what extent, however, they can search the personal electronic devices of all travelers entering and exiting the country.
The move comes amid heightened anxiety under the aggressive border policies of the Trump administration as well as recent court decisions limiting the government’s reach into ubiquitous personal electronic devices.
Under the new policies, agents are allowed to search electronic devices at the border for “information stored on the device” that is accessible through software on the device, DHS said.
But officers cannot use the device to access data stored beyond the device — a clarification that is in line with concern from appellate courts and the Supreme Court about the extensive amount of personal information that is accessible through personal devices.