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Here’s How U.S. Border Guards Can Search Your Cellphones

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According to a CBC News report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a new directive that allows border agents to demand a password to open your cellphone, even without probable cause. The U.S. secretary of homeland security Kirstjen Nielsen detailed the new policy during a U.S. Senate hearing this week, explaining how customs agents will examine the phones of travellers at the border.

Border

Below are some key details of what the new policy does and doesn’t do:

Background:

The Department of Homeland Security says it’s necessary to combat crimes like terrorism and child pornography. Last year, border agents inspected 30,200 phones and other devices, which marks an increase of nearly 60% from 2016.

The new directive:

On Jan. 4, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a new directive titled, “Border Search of Electronic Devices”, which establishes criteria for when agents can conduct extensive searches, such as downloading documents stored in the cloud, or uploading files into a storage drive for analysis.

Your password:

Agents can demand a password to open your phone, without probable cause, Nielsen confirmed during the hearing. 

The cloud:

Here, there are new limits. Agents can’t just start downloading old files from the cloud: “They can search the data that is apparent on the phone,” Nielsen said. “They can’t use the phone to access anything that might be stored remotely.”

Airplane mode:

Officers are supposed to ask travellers to shut off their signal. That’s to ensure remote files don’t get downloaded accidentally. The agents can themselves perform the task of shutting off connectivity.

Advanced search:

An officer may judge it necessary for national security purposes, such as cases where the traveller is on a watch list, to connect a phone to a hard drive, then copy its contents for analysis.

Detention:

If they can’t access a device, officers can detain it for a multi-day period. Detentions beyond five days must be approved by management. To detain a device, officers must fill out a form.

If a foreign visitor doesn’t comply, agents may deny them entry into the U.S.

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  • Fred

    Another of the dozens of reasons to avoid visiting that cesspool.
    It’s just a place with mostly reprehensible people who are filled with ignorance and stupidity.

  • G-Money41

    I appreciate that this is an iPhone site, but many of us own iOS and Android devices (i.e. work devices, etc.). I wonder about using certain features in Android to HIDE apps and information from border agents.

    For example, Samsung has a feature called “Secure Folder”, which creates a sort of hidden “wall” around certain apps, docs, files, etc. (for example, creating a hidden Instagram app, with a separate account, while still making the original Instagram app viewable on the main screen). You can even hide the fact that there’s a hidden folder.

    Or using gestures to hide certain apps? For example, on the Android phone I have to use for work, I have a specific swipe motion on the homescreen that shows my e-mail app, but it’s otherwise not apparent from the homescreen that I even HAVE an email app.

    The US policy only seems to be well-considered for iOS – like my personal iPhone, where all of my apps are sitting on the homescreen, divided into folders. Everything that’s installed is immediately visible to anyone looking at my phone. But what about my work phone? Do I have an obligation to show them that I have other applications that they can’t even see? If not, I will probably start moving as much as I can to my Android phone before crossing the border, then moving it back.

  • toysandme

    As if we needed another reason to avoid that s***hole. We heard you M. Trump.

  • FragilityG4

    This policy has been around far before Trump.

  • FragilityG4

    Well according to what this article says and from what I have heard over the years since this policy was put in place, they will sieze your phone. I’m sure they are well aware of the Android system and it’s ability to hide folders/apps and I’m sure they have ways of cracking it.

    Having said all that, what do you have on your phone that you feel the need to hide from boarder police?

  • FragilityG4

    The same ones that designed the phone you use, right?

  • G-Money41

    That’s the wrong attitude to have about this. “I have nothing to hide, so why should I care about my privacy”?

    We can have any number of things we want to conceal from US authorities/strangers: private photos, messages in respect of activities that may be legal in Canada but are illegal in the US, confidential information related to our jobs or hobbies, jokes that could be misconstrued, etc.

    Furthermore, the CBP directive sets out that officers are only allowed to search through the phone itself as part of a “Basic Search”. If they want to escalate to the level of “cracking” the Android system, that would be categorized as an “Advanced Search”, meaning we get back to the point of requiring reasonable suspicion (of violating CBP laws or a national security concern). In those instances, supervisory approval of an advanced search is required – not just some random border agent wanting to see what’s hidden inside my work phone.

    Final note: this policy was put in place January 4, 2018 (not “years” ago).

    (edit – had the date wrong by one day)

  • G-Money41

    Funny, “ignorance” and “stupidity” also cover your grossly-generalized statement.

    Remember that the majority of Americans didn’t vote for Trump.

  • Michael Gillis

    Just because someone has something that they don’t want the police to see doesn’t automatically make it something illegal. I want my privacy. Whether it be police or someone who has sworn a life oath. It’s my phone and I don’t want anyone looking through it. If they tell me to let them see then I’ll stay right here in Canada. If someone wants to search me they better have a warrant or some damn sound probable cause

  • FragilityG4

    I don’t like that they have so much power but I also know I have no reason to worry. I have nothing to hide. Sorry if I feel that I won’t be affected by this. If it bothers you so much don’t travel to the states. Maybe they haven’t been able to search your phones before but laptops have been susceptible to seizures for years.

  • FragilityG4

    How about not giving them a reason to search you?

  • FragilityG4

    The popular vote was 48% v. 45% in favour of Hillary. I hardly call that the majority of Americans.

  • G-Money41

    Do you know what majority means?

    Even if 100% of Americans voted in the election (which they didn’t), if 45% of Americans voted for Trump, that means 55% didn’t. Therefore, the MAJORITY (>50%) of Americans did not vote for Trump.

  • FragilityG4

    The vote was a difference of two million votes. Technically you are correct however you presented it in a manner that far more than the two million votes separated the candidates. Around a hundred and twenty million voted and there are more than three hundred million in the states. Claims that majority voted against Trump are just not accurate outside the technicality of the word.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    There are plenty of legitimate reasons you might not want a border guard to search your phone. What if you had nude photos of your wife on there? What if you were a Canadian startup that had their business plans on the phone – if details were leaked it could sabotage their whole business. Do you think it’s right for the Chinese government to demand the plans to the next iPhone from an Apple engineer when he enters China? Well the US is doing exactly that when they demand to see all private information on your phone or laptop. Don’t be so willing to bend over when asked.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    “I have nothing to hide. Sorry if I feel that I won’t be affected by this.” You know it’s not all about you, right? Some people lead interesting lives and have lots of interesting things on their phones. Not everyone is boring.

  • Michael Gillis

    You’re allowed to feel fine with this policy but the issue is you criticizing those that do have a problem with it as you are automatically assuming that it’s because they are doing something criminal

  • FragilityG4

    You’re right. How selfish of me. I should have thought about those with legitimate reasons to want to hide inform on their phones. Like the drug smuggler or the guns trafficker or the terrorist. What none of you know, and how would you, is my skin colour is not white, it’s brown. Since 9/11 I have not been able to go through security at an airport without being pulled aside for a “randomly selected search” and even though I feel I’m only being selected because of how I look (by white, black, brown, Asian officers) I am okay with this because of the greater good. If one drug dealer, one murderer, one terrorist can be stopped and this is the only inconvenience I have to put with I am okay with that, and you should be as well. There’s more to life than selfies with friends.

  • FragilityG4

    Be smart. Why would you have a nude photo of your wife on your phone? Forget boarder patrol what if your friend was going through phone? Business plans? That theory is fear mongering at its finest.

  • FragilityG4

    All I ask is why they feel they would be selected to show their phone. I don’t have a reason that’s why I’m not bother by this. Sorry if you don’t understand.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    “If one drug dealer, one murderer, one terrorist can be stopped and this is the only inconvenience I have to put with I am okay with that” Well then, we might as well start implementing searches when we get on subways, buses and shopping malls. I mean if it catches just one drug dealer it’s all worth it, right?

  • Hondanazi

    So did you take the blue pill with the Kool-aid? Don’t you think it’s getting a bit ridiculous the amount of invasion of privacy?

  • FragilityG4

    I do, but as long as there are people out there wanting to harm innocent people what choice do we have? Because whenever there’s an attack the first thing people say is “could this have been prevented?”

  • FragilityG4

    By your tone we should stop R.I.D.E programs because they’re stopping the many to catch the few. Personally I like knowing that they are trying to get that few off the roads.

  • sickofgovwaste

    You’re telling us to be smart and you can’t even spell “border?” Look, boot-licker, if you like these unnecessary intrusions so much, go live in Russia. Some of us respect the 4th Amendment, against unlawful search and seizures. Dimwit…

  • Kevin Lafontaine

    So, what if my wife is really hot and she has

  • FragilityG4

    Semantics, it was autocorrect. 4th amendment? In Canada there’s no amendments. Even so amendments can be amended.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    RIDE makes sense – there is a relativity high chance of getting killed by a driver – especially if they are drunk. At the airport it’s just security theater. Can you bring aboard a normal sized tube of toothpaste? Nope. Can you bring aboard box cutters exactly like the ones the terrorists used on 9/11 – of course!

  • FragilityG4

    RIDE stops a tiny portion of the drivers in the country. Airport security stops everyone.

  • FragilityG4

    Really? Read your comment back and think if it makes sense. “Target her to look through her phone to see if she has naked pictures” come on.

    By the way my wife has participated in bikini fitness challenges so I do have photos of her on my phone, but I’m still not worried about the phone being “targeted”. Fear mongering.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Yeah, and RIDE is more effective. Guess how many terrorists they’ve stopped at the border? I’ll give you a clue, the number is less than one. Look it up.

  • FragilityG4

    How many have got through?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Well, it doesn’t matter for my point. If they haven’t caught anyone, then its kinda a big waste of everyone’s time and money.

  • FragilityG4

    It matters to the overall point.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Just from my memory, they let the potential shoe-bomber guy through. Then they changed the rules so that everyone had to take off their shoes while being screened. Then they changed it again so that you don’t have to take of your shoes. Why? It’s all just theatre.

  • FragilityG4

    They have full body scans now. If you choose not to do the scan and take a pat down you have to take your shoes off.

  • FragilityG4

    They have full body scans now. If you choose not to do the scan and take a pat down you have to take your shoes off.

  • Mich

    wow.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    If you look at the stats, more people will die from getting cancer from the scanners than die from terrorist attacks. Both numbers are very low, but facts are facts – if we care about human life, the scanners cause more deaths.

    OK, let’s bring it back to discussing Apple – I say that if they cared about safety and terrorism they would ban iPads and iPhones on board. Remember the exploding Note 7s? Well an iPhone can perform the same trick if you damage it the right way – check out YouTube for lots of examples. Since Apple is nice enough to install fresh batteries for just $35, these phones can cause all the more harm. And iPads? The battery is gigantic compared to phones – means more smoke and fire. And how about the glass on the screen? Big shards of sharp glass right there…

    My point is that you can never stop terrorism in the way they are doing it. The only way is through education, setting a good example as a culture and working towards equality. This, in turn, will eventually stop racism, misogyny and exploitation. An then, and only then, it will stop terrorism.

  • FragilityG4

    You’re reaching, it’s okay to be wrong. How do you educate a person who wants to blow up American and lives abroad? You can’t. But you can take the proper precautions here to prevent it as much as possible.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    So when you learn that
    more people die from cancer caused from the scanners than die from terrorist attacks, you call that “proper precautions”. Ok, I think I’ve made my points here. Till we meet again in a future article…

  • FragilityG4

    Sure if you make up your stats to fit your argument ?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Look it up 🙂

  • FragilityG4

    Take off your tin foil hat. They’re not killing anyone. By that notion dental X-rays would be sending you to your grave.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Um, you don’t know that X-rays can cause cancer? Why do you think the X-ray technician leaves the room when they X-ray you?

  • FragilityG4

    Of course it can so can an MRI or CT or microwave or computer or a cell phone or radio tower or WiFi or a tv or smart meter or fish or burnt meat or cigarettes or damn near anything causes cancer so with all due respect to say we should reduce security because of it is completely idiotic. This millennial thought process that everything is Armageddon has to end, especially when things go wrong they yell “you didn’t do enough” but when things are going well it’s “you’re doing too much” so reactionary, so old, so stale.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Well earlier you said radiation doesn’t do anything “Take off your tin foil hat. They’re not killing anyone.” and now you’re saying of course it does.

    You can pretend that believing both at the same time somehow makes sense, but unless your name is Trump you can’t get away with that.

    But anyway, I’ll talk to the rational party of you that accepts that radiation can cause cancer and repeat that it’s rare – just like terrorism. It just so happens that the rays coming out of the airport scanners kill more people that terrorists do. It’s just a fact. You don’t have to like it.

  • FragilityG4

    The way you presented your point is as if people are dropping dead everyday from these scanners which is a complete falsehood. That’s why you can take off your tin foil hat. I get it you only like security after things go wrong otherwise you don’t want to be bothered, you don’t want to believe that there are people in this world that have never met us but would like to see us suffer. Look the other way, turn a blind eye. Keep government out of our lives when it comes to security because it can be inconvenient but come in and legislate everything so we can fight global warming— Liberalism at its finest.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    No I didn’t. Don’t put words in my mouth. Reread what I wrote.

  • sickofgovwaste

    You really need to have your Internet privileges revoked . Now that everyone has a recording device in their pocket, we’re seeing DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE that many, many persons with “nothing to hide” have been incarcerated, beaten, caged, stolen-from, and denied their rights by people in costumes with badges who are not “keeping the peace” by any measure.

    I’m anti-authority because I don’t trust the authorizing bodies. It’s as simple as that. Too many in positions of authority abuse it.

  • FragilityG4

    You are correct you did not say that.

  • FragilityG4

    If you’re anti authority go somewhere without it. I hear Syria and Iraq have openings.

    It’s funny how you open your post with a statement about internet privileges and close it by stating you’re anti authority— Privilege is the end result of obeying authority.

    But go ahead and be influenced by left wing major news outlets. Anti authority according to CNN, right ?

  • sickofgovwaste

    CNN?? I wouldn’t watch CNN if it was the last channel on earth.

    Let me clarify: I’m anti-abuse of authority. You don’t know a single thing about my ideology. I’m a libertarian and believe in doing what’s moral, not necessarily what’s “legal.” I want a level playing field and the US government to get out of other countries’ business and the business of decent people w/o articulable cause.

    Look up the expression “camel’s nose under the tent” because that’s exactly what this bullshit violation of civil liberty is. Just because you have Internet access and can almost spell, doesn’t make you an authority, jackass. We’re all born with privilege, it’s boot-lickers like you who sit by passively and allow an arbitrary group of “rule-makers” to steal it from you, then tell us if we don’t compliantly take the ass-violating, that we must watch CNN (that ad hominem was not only incorrect, but it wasn’t germane). You are a colossal imbecile w/o a clue, but unlike you, I explained why.

  • FragilityG4

    You know life is too short for all this rage. For me it was too sohrt to porofraed ocne and I faer I wlil nveer haer the end of it. Hahaha relax, rip that anarchy badge off your plaid jacket— if you are that old, kick back and enjoy life. Don’t be sad, don’t be mad. I can tell you’re harbouring a lot but don’t let it consume you. Go out and do what you want to do and live a happy life. Find that special person for you and if you’ve already found that person hold on to them and love them. That’s time well spent. I’m taking my own advise, I’m going to read a book.
    Good night and god bless.

  • karinatwork

    Great, with all the negative tweets I’ve posted about the current administration, they may not let me in anymore. 🙂

  • sickofgovwaste

    And ANYONE would take advice from you because?? I’m not the least bit angry–you’re an emotional arguer. You have no facts or logic, it’s just ad hominems and derision. I’m very concerned about the growth of the government and it’s “unquestionable” power. You, apparently, aren’t.

  • FragilityG4

    It’s okay, redirect your anger. Stop being sick of things and look to the positives. You can’t control everything beyond yourself. Happiness starts within and it is attainable. I trust you to find that thing in your life to make you happy and you should trust in yourself. Is it a job or special someone or children or a pastime event? Whatever it is I know you can find it and transform this anger into a positive experience. Furthermore I know you will find this and use it as an example to help others in the same fashion. Let go of your anger, it’s stifling your emotional growth.

  • sickofgovwaste

    Thought you were reading a book? No one cares what you think–it’s all emotion.

  • FragilityG4

    I was reading a book thanks for remembering. I’m not concerned with what others think right now, just you. I want you to tear down that wall you have put up blocking yourself from opening up and letting love in. Everything is emotion yes, but it’s about which emotion you choose to lean on in times of distress. I know I’m getting through to you or else you wouldn’t write back. If you don’t want to make your emotions public I understand. But there are people out there able and willing to help. I’m not saying I’m one, I’m not a psychologist, but I have dealt with friends that harboured similar pain. I just made myself available to listen and that seemed to help coupled with some advise such as the advise I have given you. Find that person, let go of the anger and look through a positive glass and love people and life.

  • sickofgovwaste

    You just don’t get it, do you? You’re the worst kind of troll…please, please, please shut your pie hole… next reply gets you blocked. I don’t take advice from strangers on the Internet, so enough already.

  • FragilityG4

    Block me if you feel it is your only refuge, but trust me letting go of your anger will be far more effective for a happy life; it helped me ?

  • raslucas

    Hey man… sometimes if you’re travelling on a business trip, reminding yourself of what’s at home waiting for you can make a big difference…

  • raslucas

    I think by education, he means education to other people about detecting the early signs of people who may be sick and going down a wrong path. People around other people can have a positive or negative effect on each other. Victims of one type of terrorism (or other tragedy) can cause them to act in ways that will create more innocent victims and etc… the education is about helping those victims heal properly and come back.

  • raslucas

    Sooo agreed…. someone’s going to risk their careers and risk possible jail time just to see some pictures you can see everywhere online? Absurd! (Oh and please don’t misunderstand, I just mean pictures of pretty girls in general, nothing personal)

  • Hondanazi

    Don’t you think they allow some of this to happen to cultivate a culture of fear so people will allow them to control things for safety? This is an old game: create a bogeyman so you can provide a solution and control the populace for their own safety. Phones that spy on us, electronic monetary system they can control, excessive security checks (airports etc), driverless cars (that could be controlled/hacked), etc. It’s starting to worry me personally, too much control and corruption.

  • FragilityG4

    So essentially you’re afraid/questioning (of) everything.

  • Hondanazi

    Lol, that’s funny! There isn’t much I am afraid of anymore…1) I have a child 2) I’ve been robbed and shot 3) I’ve lived through 3 serious car wrecks 4) My wife has breast cancer, has had a mastectomy and now is about to start 1 year of chemo.
    What I “question” is the real reason 9/11 happened (think pearl harbour…an excuse for the USA to get into WW2) is to allow the government to control everything gradually a bit at a time. Maybe Americans shouldn’t be sticking their noses in the Middle East for oil (whooops I meant to say democracy) and maybe Islamic radicals wouldn’t have reason to hate the west. Think net neutrality issues now, passports with chips etc. They can see everything you do….but maybe you like that? I don’t. I don’t feel safer when I fly, I can’t believe how much money and effort go into airport security that basically fails tests all the time and treats people like garbage. I refuse the scanner because I have enough radiation in me….don’t tell me you actually believe they are 100% safe?

  • FragilityG4

    The great thing about conspiracy theories is they don’t require facts so anyone can dream them up… especially those with YouTube channels selling books.

  • FragilityG4

    Your argument is invalid. If my “head was so far down my ass” it would be out ?

  • Hondanazi

    I think you misread my comment. Because your head is down licking the boots, your ass is in the air for an easy “fuck”…?. All in good fun, but I used to be more optimistic and less conspiracy based but things start to come to light that support the questioning of the government BS and lies they tell, they want control so they can continue to rob the population.

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