US Cannot Search Electronic Devices as Standard Protocol in Airports

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The Boston district court has ruled that US border control agencies are acting unlawfully by searching travellers’ electronic devices at ports of entry without grounds for suspicion.

Agents of US Customs & Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement must not search or seize electronic devices unless they can cite specific evidence allowing them to draw an inference that the device contains digital illegal goods. The judge ruled ‘impermissible or unlawful travel motives’ are not a valid reason for a random stop-and-search.

The decision applies to basic manual searches as well as forensic searches, and to all travellers to the US, not just US residents.