Senator urges US customs chiefs to limit inspections to suspects only

If a passenger’s phone, tablet, or computer is searched at an airport, US border authorities can add data from their devices to a massive database that can be accessed by thousands of government officials. obscure.

US Customs and Border Protection leaders admitted (CBP) Lawmakers are briefed that its officials add information to a database of up to 10,000 devices each year, the Washington Post reported..

Furthermore, 2,700 CBP officers can access the database without a court order and without having to record the purpose of their search.

Those details were revealed in a letter Senator Ron Wyden wrote to CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus, in which the lawmaker also said that CBP keeps any information it gets from people’s devices for 15 years..

In the letter, Wyden urged the commissioner to modernize CBP practices so that border checks focus on suspected criminals and security threats rather than allowing “indiscriminate theft of Americans’ private records without a suspected crime.”

He said Wyden that CBP It takes sensitive information from people’s devices, including text messages, call logs, contact lists and even photos and other private information in some cases.

While law enforcement agencies are usually required to obtain a court order if they wish to gain access to the contents of a phone or other electronic device, border authorities are exempt from having to do the same.

Wyden also noted that travelers who are screened at airports, ports and border crossings are not informed of their rights before their devices are inspected.

If they refuse to open their electronic devices, the authorities can confiscate them and keep them for five days.

As indicated by the newspaper the postThe CBP official previously said the agency’s directive gives its officers the authority to swipe through any passenger’s device on a “basic search.” If they find any “reasonable suspicion” that a traveler is breaking the law or doing something that is a threat to national security, they can do more advanced research. That’s when they can connect a traveler’s phone, tablet or PC to a device that copies their information, which is then stored in the automated targeting system’s database..

CBP’s director of field operations, Aaron Bowker, told the newspaper that the agency only copies people’s data when “absolutely necessary.” Booker did not deny that agency officers had access to the database, though he said the number was higher than what CBP officials had said to Wyden. He said five percent of the 60,000 CBP employees had access to the database, which translates to 3,000 officers, not 2,700..

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