Revived bill proposes safeguards against warrantless data searches at US borders

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 23
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have reintroduced a bill that would block the government from searching iPhones, MacBooks, and other devices at the border without a warrant.




The bill is called the "Protecting Data at the Border Act," and co-sponsored by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). Another Democrat, Ted Lieu, will be introducing a companion bill in the House.

"The border is quickly becoming a rights-free zone for Americans who travel," Wyden said in a statement to AppleInsider and other venues. "The government shouldn't be able to review your whole digital life simply because you went on vacation, or had to travel for work."

The Wyden-Paul legislation cites a Supreme Court case, Riley v. California, in claiming that people have "extraordinary privacy interests" in devices like smartphones.

"The privacy interest of United States persons in the digital contents of their electronic equipment, the digital contents of their online accounts, and the nature of their online presence differs in both degree and kind from their privacy interest in closed containers," the bill says. "Accessing the digital contents of electronic equipment, accessing the digital contents of an online account, or obtaining information regarding the nature of the online presence of a United States person entering or exiting the United States, without a lawful warrant based on probable cause, is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

Customers officers would be required to inform people of their rights before they can consent to seizure or giving up information about online accounts.

The bill's prospects are uncertain. A previous version failed in the last session of Congress, since it couldn't get co-sponsors aside from Markey and Merkley, The Hill noted.

One of the effort's supporters is the American Civil Liberties Union, which recently charged that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are "asserting near-unfettered authority" to search and seize devices such as iPhones from anyone at points of entry. The organization is suing both agencies on behalf of a number of alleged victims, and recently received a complaint from Andreas Gal, an Apple employee.

Gal was reportedly questioned about his work, including online privacy advocacy, and asked to turn over passwords for his phone and computer. He asked if he could talk with Apple or a lawyer in order to address an Apple non-disclosure agreement, but was rejected and threatened with prosecution. He was only able to pass the border by surrendering his Global Entry card used to expedite screening.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,285member
    “Quickly becoming”?? Already IS. The rights-exempt border zone issue has been quietly circulating in the lesser news channels for a while and most people don’t seem to care.

    Also, the TSA is an abhorrent mess of security theatre and abuses, but no one cares about that either.
    iqatedo
  • Reply 2 of 11
    plovellplovell Posts: 804member
    I might guess that Apple has already established a "corporate lost-mode" for Macs and iDevices. The device is locked and the employee has no access. Dear Mr. CBP - have at it, it's yours.

    After a trial period this will roll-out to the companies that use the managed-devices (MDM) package. Maybe it'll be mentioned at WWDC ?

    Apple will most certainly NOT allow this to happen to an employee again.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    plovell said:
    I might guess that Apple has already established a "corporate lost-mode" for Macs and iDevices. The device is locked and the employee has no access. Dear Mr. CBP - have at it, it's yours.

    After a trial period this will roll-out to the companies that use the managed-devices (MDM) package. Maybe it'll be mentioned at WWDC ?

    Apple will most certainly NOT allow this to happen to an employee again.
    Lol, I’ve never read more naive wishful thinking... & stated as if it were actual fact no less!!! Gutsy AND silly! =)
  • Reply 4 of 11
    plovellplovell Posts: 804member
    plovell said:
    I might guess that Apple has already established a "corporate lost-mode" for Macs and iDevices. The device is locked and the employee has no access. Dear Mr. CBP - have at it, it's yours.

    After a trial period this will roll-out to the companies that use the managed-devices (MDM) package. Maybe it'll be mentioned at WWDC ?

    Apple will most certainly NOT allow this to happen to an employee again.
    Lol, I’ve never read more naive wishful thinking... & stated as if it were actual fact no less!!! Gutsy AND silly! =)
    Read it again. It starts out "I might guess ..."   Not at all stated as if it were fact. Not gutsy, nor silly. Not even naïve. Just a simple statement of expectation. Enjoy.
  • Reply 5 of 11
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,411member
    Never bring a “smartphone” or computer on international travel unless you’re a diplomat immune from these kinds of unconstitutional searches.
  • Reply 6 of 11
    "The border is quickly becoming a rights-free zone for Americans who travel," Wyden said in a statement to AppleInsider and other venues. "The government shouldn't be able to review your whole digital life simply because you went on vacation, or had to travel for work."

    Not to mention while traveling entirely within the United States if one happens to cross the line CBP claims as its jurisdiction.

    My mom was on a bus and they demanded her ID because the bus happened to stop in Erie PA.  Being some 90 years old at the time, she got cantankerous and refused.  They tried to make her get off the bus.  I really wish I'd been there to see it. :)
  • Reply 7 of 11
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 929member
    At a glance I'm all for this bill. I haven't read all of the text of it but it certainly sounds to be a sane, practical protection of rights that should be afforded directly by the Constitution regardless. But I can't help but think that some legislator may have stuffed some pork barrel spending with it.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,469member
    dysamoria said:
    “Quickly becoming”?? Already IS. The rights-exempt border zone issue has been quietly circulating in the lesser news channels for a while and most people don’t seem to care.

    Also, the TSA is an abhorrent mess of security theatre and abuses, but no one cares about that either.
    100% agree on both counts. The mention of 'rights-free' and 'rights-exempt' is the first I've seen (or heard of the term) but it's absolutely the case.

    Having not read the bill, I can't say that I'm for it or not, but it's good to see this getting some traction. But it only takes care of one side. There's still Canda and Mexico to consider. And Canada may be tired of being America's hat.

    The TSA. What a joke. These people are largely poorly trained security guards that give mall cops a good name.

    For being a federal organization it's been shocking, in my travels, how many agents are not familiar with the latest TSA policies or just ignore them completely.

    One of my biggest complaints is going through TSA to board a plane then in some smaller airports having to go through them again when getting OFF the plane. WTF. I've been through the TSA dance many many times and while there are some good agents they're often lost among the noise of those who think they're a lot more important than they are. 

    I'm glad I don't have to do international travel for work.  TSA and Customs? Kill me now.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 832member
    I think the time is to have a Privacy Amendment to the Constitution that spells out our rights to privacy once and for all.

    It would add weight to prosecution of internet companies that violate it.
  • Reply 10 of 11
    badmonk said:
    I think the time is to have a Privacy Amendment to the Constitution that spells out our rights to privacy once and for all.

    It would add weight to prosecution of internet companies that violate it.
    While I agree with your sentiment, I think the way you phrased it is wrong.

    It should be something like "time to have a Privacy Amendment ... that explicitly limits the government's authority to invade our privacy."
  • Reply 11 of 11
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,411member
    badmonk said:
    I think the time is to have a Privacy Amendment to the Constitution that spells out our rights to privacy once and for all.

    It would add weight to prosecution of internet companies that violate it.
    The Bill of Rights spells out what individual constitutionally protected rights the Federal government must defend and how the Federal government is restrained.
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