A Boston federal court ruled Tuesday that U.S. federal agents can’t conduct “suspicionless” searches of international travelers’ smartphones and laptops at the border and other ports of entry, a decision hailed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as a “major victory for privacy rights.”
- In a 48-page decision, U.S. district judge Denise Casper ruled that border officials need justifiable reasons to search a person’s electronic devices, which should be balanced against the privacy interests of travelers.
- According to Reuters, Casper’s ruling is a higher standard than current U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policies.
- Casper also ruled that the CBP and ICE policies violate the Fourth Amendment, which provides people protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.
- Agents, however, are still not required to obtain search warrants to examine phones and laptops with reasonable suspicion.
- The ACLU was representing the case’s 11 plaintiffs; lawyer Esha Bhandari said the decision “significantly advances Fourth Amendment protections for the millions of international travelers who enter the United States every year.”