USA searches of int'l travelers' electronic devices soar in 2017

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US Customs and Border Protection Publishes New Rules for Searching Electronic Devices

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport recently seized more than 65 pounds of liquid methamphetamine with an estimated value of $297,000.

The directive also distinguishes "basic" and "advanced" searches.

The contract calls for Accenture's federal services business to recruit and employ 5,000 border patrol agents, 2,000 customs officers and 500 air and marine interdiction employees, McCaskill wrote in a Wednesday letter to Kevin McAleenan, CBP acting commissioner. This means that anything that can not be accessed without a data connection is off-limits to police officers in a "basic" search.

According to the new rules, CBP agents are allowed to choose, with or without suspicion, travelers for Basic Searches.

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An Advanced Search is when the CBP agent connects the user's device to an external system specialized in deeper searches.

There were reports of an increase of electronic device searches in airports in the US.

The new protocol is published today and it explicitly states that authorities can search and access all files stored on an individual's phone.

CBP released an updated policy directive earlier this month, which provided clarified guidance and standard operating procedures for searching, reviewing and retaining information found on these devices. This type of search can not be carried out without being approved by a supervisor first.

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The number of searches of cellphones, laptops, tablets and other electronic data across USA airports spiked from 2015 to 2016 and the upward trend continued previous year. More than 30,000 travelers had their devices searched past year.

"Customs and Border Protection knows that transnational drug trafficking organizations will take advantage of natural disasters, and in this case an island struggling to recovering from a crippling hurricane, to smuggle unsafe drugs to our nation's mainland", said Joseph Martella, CBP Acting Area Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia.

The CBP claims these searches are necessary to fight terrorist activity, child pornography, violations of export controls, intellectual property rights violations, and visa fraud.

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