Today's Paper Search Latest Core values App Traffic #Gazette200 Listen Story ideas iPad FAQ Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 file photo, travelers check their phones at Indianapolis International Airport in Indianapolis. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, a federal court in Boston ruled that warrantless U.S. government searches of the phones and laptops of international travelers at airports and other U.S. ports of entry violate the Fourth Amendment. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

BOSTON -- A federal court in Boston has ruled that no-warrant U.S. government searches of the phones and laptops of international travelers at airports and other U.S. ports of entry violate the Fourth Amendment.

Tuesday's ruling in U.S. District Court came in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of 11 travelers whose smartphones and laptops were searched without individualized suspicion at U.S. ports of entry.

ACLU attorney Esha Bhandari said the ruling strengthens Fourth Amendment protections of international travelers who enter the United States every year.

The ACLU describes the searches as "fishing expeditions." They say border officers must now demonstrate individualized suspicion of contraband before they can search a traveler's device.

The government has vigorously defended the searches as a critical tool to protect America.

The number of electronic device searches at U.S. ports of entry has increased significantly, the ACLU said. Last year, the government conducted more than 33,000 searches, almost four times the number from just three years ago.

Documents filed as part of the lawsuit claim that the scope of the no-warrant searches has expanded to assist in enforcement of tax, bankruptcy, environmental and consumer protection laws, gather intelligence and advance criminal investigations.

The court documents also said agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement consider requests from other government agencies in determining whether to search travelers' electronic devices. They added that agents are searching the electronic devices of not only targeted individuals but their associates, friends and relatives.

"By putting an end to the government's ability to conduct suspicionless fishing expeditions, the court reaffirms that the border is not a lawless place and that we don't lose our privacy rights when we travel," Bhandari said in a news release.

A Section on 11/13/2019

Print Headline: No-warrant searches at border ruled illegal

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with the Democrat-Gazette commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. The Democrat-Gazette commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT