Bipartisan bill would end warrantless border searches of US persons' data

Originally published at:


Encouraging but still not carrying any important/personal electronics out of the country since other countries will surely be ramping up their procedures for searching your stuff in “retaliation” for the U.S. policy.


The best effect of this will be curtailing searches of people near the boarder who aren’t actually crossing.


Gee, thanks.

– A Canadian


“Under the Protecting Data at the Border Act, devices “belonging to or in the possession of a United States person” (a citizen or Green Card holder) could no longer be searched at the border without a warrant. Agents would no longer be able to deny US persons entry or exit on the basis of a refusal to allow such a search (but they could seize the equipment).”

So, under this act, if you refuse to allow an agent to search your device, the agent can seize your “equipment” without a warrant. So, only people guilty of something could possibly refuse (bonehead litmus test), therefore their personal equipment must be seized because…??? Why, again???.. unless the agent plans on accessing your equipment while it’s in his/her possession (which could probably be done by the NSA, for example)? Otherwise, what would be the point.


Border agents already CAN do everything you’re complaining about. This bill limits their actions.

1 Like

So the administration just indicated that they want mandatory phone searches of all foreign visitors entering the US, along with social media passwords and financial information. One (half-) step forward, two giant leaps back. This is going to be great for tourism, in the sense that there won’t be any more tourism…


Confiscation on refusal is why I only take my employer’s equipment across US borders, not my own. Then a) I’m not inconvenienced if it’s confiscated, and b) I can watch my employer’s attack lawyers go and be dicks to ICE. But this law is a decent first step. Glad it has bipartisan sponsorship, but I doubt it will get far.


Good luck, guys. This Congress can’t even take away your health care, and they’ve been promising that one for seven years.


What if I choose to expose myself?


Glad to have Wyden as one of my senators.


They can already seize almost anything. But with this bill they would have to let you go, which would mean you can call a lawyer. Once you are through, you magically have constitutional protections, so now they have to go arrest you and treat you like a normal suspect, so even after seizing it, they can’t search it without a warrant, or the evidence wouldn’t be admissible in court.

Sure there are plenty of other problems with our justice system that they can exploit, but this is how you get better – close one hole at a time.

Presumably the point is so that they can go present their case to a judge and try to get a warrant. This is how it works for ordinary arrests currently – if a cop arrests you, he can confiscate your phone then ask a judge for a warrant, but can’t necessarily search it on the spot, and certainly can’t (legally) compel you to unlock it to enable a search. IIRC, there are some exceptions where the cop can do an immediate search, and they are probably too broad, but it isn’t automatic.


Thanks for the clarification, e.

It would be interesting to see the demographics on the confiscations.

1 Like

Seizures will go up. Way up. There’s more than two hundred years of case law on their side if they want to play nasty.

Many judges will rubber stamp a search warrant application for things seized at the border or CBP will just sit on your stuff for six months or longer “Pending a decision” or until you spend ten times the device’s value in legal filings, whichever comes first.

And your name and passport number go into the system so every time you enter from then on you get the full “welcome” program. (It’s called “Hard secondary” if you like to know professional jargon. Bring a book, you’ll be there a while.)

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.