Electronic Frontier Foundation

Major Victory for Travelers' Privacy at the Border

A federal court on November 12 ruled in Alasaad v. McAleenan that the government must have reasonable suspicion of digital contraband before searching your electronic devices at the U.S. border. The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and ACLU of Massachusetts on behalf of 11 travelers whose smartphones and laptops were searched without individualized suspicion at U.S. ports of entry.

“The government shouldn’t have the unfettered power to invade your digital privacy at the border,” said Diane Zorri, a college professor, former U.S. Air Force captain, and a plaintiff in the Alasaad case. “I’m proud to stand with EFF and the ACLU for travelers’ rights.”

The court held that the government must have reasonable suspicion of digital contraband before searching people’s electronic devices at the U.S. border. This major advance helps ensure that border agents cannot turn international travel into an excuse to rifle through your private digital information without individualized suspicion.

Your devices contain a wealth of information about you, your networks, and your loved ones. And searches of our devices have grown all too common—perhaps even you have been searched for seemingly no reason. But no one should have their private information searched without suspicion.

We’ve fought for tech users for years before arriving at the latest victory in Alasaad, and this won’t be the last battle.

The number of these searches at U.S. ports of entry has increased significantly. Last year, CBP conducted more than 33,000 searches, almost four times the number from just three years prior.

Join EFF today to ensure that ordinary technology users have a tireless advocate wherever they go.

EFF is a U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax ID #04-3091431.

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