Unconstitutional Searches of Electronic Devices at American Airports Have Quadrupled

by | May 2, 2019 | Headline News | 29 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Dagny Taggart at The Organic Prepper.

    “Go to any airport in this country and you’ll see how well our government is dealing with the terrible danger you’re in. TSA staffers are wanding 90-year-old ladies in wheelchairs, and burrowing through their suitcases. Toddlers are on the no-fly list. Lipsticks are confiscated. And it’s all done with the highest seriousness.

    It’s a show of protection and it stirs the fear pot, giving us over and over an image of being in grave personal peril, needing Big Brother to make sure we’re safe.” – Ann Medlock, Home of the Brave

    The federal government wants us to believe that its growing disregard for our First and Fourth Amendment rights is in the interest of national security.

    Thankfully, there are organizations that are attempting to bring attention to the ever-expanding police state – and are even willing to fight them in court.

    America is turning into a Constitution-free zone.

    Since 2015, U.S. government searches of travelers’ cellphones and laptops at airports and border crossings have nearly quadrupled.

    You might be tempted to believe that these searches are done for good reasons.

    You’d be mistaken.

    Those searches are “being done for reasons beyond customs and immigration enforcement, according to papers filed Tuesday in a federal lawsuit that claims scouring the electronic devices without a warrant is unconstitutional,” according to the Associated Press:

    The government has vigorously defended the searches, which rose to 33,295 in fiscal 2018, as a critical tool to protect America. But the newly filed documents claim the scope of the warrantless searches has expanded to assist in enforcement of tax, bankruptcy, environmental and consumer protection laws, gather intelligence and advance criminal investigations.

    Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement consider requests from other government agencies in determining whether to search travelers’ electronic devices, the court papers said. They added that agents are searching the electronic devices of not only targeted individuals but their associates, friends, and relatives. (source)

    Border officers are conducting searches without a warrant.

    CBP and ICE policies allow border officers to manually search anyone’s smartphone with no suspicion at all, and to conduct a forensic search with reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. CBP also allows suspicionless device searches for a “national security concern.”

    The previously undisclosed information about the searches was included in a motion the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. The groups asked a federal court to rule without trial (called a summary judgment) that the Department of Homeland Security violates the First and Fourth Amendments by searching travelers’ smartphones and laptops at airports and other U.S. ports of entry without a warrant.

    Last year, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper in Boston rejected the government’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, allowing the case to move forward. The ACLU and EFF began gathering documents and deposition testimony. Based on the new information, they filed a motion asking the judge to rule in their favor without a trial. “Travelers’ devices contain an extraordinary amount of highly personal information that the government can easily search, retain, and share,” the motion argues.

    This information was obtained as part of a lawsuit, Alasaad v. McAleenan, EFF, ACLU, and ACLU of Massachusetts filed in September 2017 on behalf of 11 travelers – 10 U.S. citizens and one lawful permanent resident – whose smartphones and laptops were searched without warrants at U.S. ports of entry.

    The plaintiffs are asking the court to rule that the government must have a warrant based on probable cause before conducting searches of electronic devices, which contain highly detailed personal information about people’s lives.

    Among the plaintiffs are a limousine driver, a military veteran, journalists, students, an artist, a NASA engineer, and a business owner. They are also requesting the court to hold that the government must have probable cause to confiscate a traveler’s device.

    The government can keep your data and share it with other entities.

    In addition, the plaintiffs are demanding the government expunge from investigatory databases information obtained in past searches. ICE and CBP both allow officers to retain information from travelers’ electronic devices and share it with other government entities, including state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies, the court papers claim.

    Travelers who have had their electronic devices searched at the border run increased odds of being subject to future device searches as they can be flagged in government databases for additional scrutiny on that basis, the plaintiffs say.

    Adam Schwartz, senior staff attorney for the EFF, elaborated in a press release:

    “The evidence we have presented the court shows that the scope of ICE and CBP border searches is unconstitutionally broad.

    ICE and CBP policies and practices allow unfettered, warrantless searches of travelers’ digital devices and empower officers to dodge the Fourth Amendment when rifling through highly personal information contained on laptops and phones.” (source)

    Esha Bhandari, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, added:

    “This new evidence reveals that government agencies are using the pretext of the border to make an end run around the First and Fourth Amendments. The border is not a lawless place, ICE and CBP are not exempt from the Constitution, and the information on our electronic devices is not devoid of Fourth Amendment protections. We’re asking the court to stop these unlawful searches and require the government to get a warrant.” (source)

    Government is abusing its power under the guise of security.

    It might be tempting to believe that allowing the government to violate our rights is the price we pay for a safer country…that the ends justify the means.

    If you are inclined to think that way, please consider the following questions from John W. Whitehead, Constitutional attorney and founder of The Rutherford Institute:

    How far would you really go to secure the nation’s borders against illegal aliens?

    Would you give the government limitless amounts of money to fight yet another endless war? Surround the entire country with concrete walls and barbed wire? Empower border police to do whatever it takes to crack down on illegal immigrants, even if it means violating their human rights? Hold your nose and tolerate all manner of abuses in name of national security?

    Would you allow government agents to trample on the rights of anyone who gets in their way, including legal citizens? Relinquish some of your freedoms in exchange for the elusive promise of non-porous borders? Submit to a national ID card that allows the government to target individuals and groups as it chooses in order to identify those who do not “belong”? Turn a blind eye to private prisons and detainment camps that profit off the forced labor of its detainees?

    Would you turn your backs on every constitutional principle for which our founders fought and died in exchange for empty campaign promises of elusive safety by fast-talking politicians?

    This is the devil’s bargain that the U.S. government demands of its people. (source)

    Immigrants are not the only ones being subjected to warrantless searches.

    Border control cops aren’t just targeting immigrants who are attempting to enter the U.S., as Whitehead explains:

    As part of the government’s so-called crackdown on illegal immigration, drugs and trafficking, its border patrol cops are expanding their reach, roaming further afield and subjecting greater numbers of Americans to warrantless searches, ID checkpoints, transportation checks, and even surveillance on private property far beyond the boundaries of the borderlands.

    That so-called border, once a thin borderline, is now an ever-thickening band spreading deeper and deeper inside the country.

    Consequently, nearly 66% of Americans (2/3 of the U.S. population, 197.4 million people) now live within a 100-mile-deep, Constitution-free zone.

    As journalist Todd Miller explains, that expanding border region now extends “100 miles inland around the United States—along the 2,000-mile southern border, the 4,000-mile northern border and both coasts… This ‘border’ region now covers places where two-thirds of the US population (197.4 million people) live… The ‘border’ has by now devoured the full states of Maine and Florida and much of Michigan.” (source)

    It is time to ask ourselves how much liberty we are willing to sacrifice in exchange for a bit of security (security the government isn’t even good at providing).

    What do you think?

    Do you think ICE and CBP should be able to continue to conduct warrantless searches and seizures? Do you believe that these practices are making the country safer? Will they lead to increasing violations of our Constitutional rights?


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      1. Dang, for a quick sec I thought it was Joe Biden in his new government job there in the pic.

        • They bring this shit out on the highway I’m going to blow someone’s brains out on the highway.

          • It would be a shame if some hacker type got them to search a computer HDD and it gave them a “present”. Think of it as a digital STD.

      2. I have general living skills, for the modern world, yet have never been fully dependent on any modernities, whatsoever.

        It doesn’t seem rational for anyone, except some crisis actor, to bring their diary along.


        dt said, “Submit to a national ID card that allows the government to target individuals and groups as it chooses in order to identify those who do not “belong”?

        I understand the concept of picking on some arbitrarily-designated underdog.

        They don’t literally profile, though; it’s collective punishment.

        Anyone who was sincerely racist — an unrepentant hater — could condemn these gate rapists on account of their disloyalty.

      3. I’m the only one who decides whether anyone can have any of my electronic data, period. No one else’s concern, period.

        • Who are you kidding? You have No “rights”.
          You are cattle to be Milked dry.
          You are sheep to be Sheared smooth.
          When your NWO masters decide, You are goats to be Slaughtered. You will follow officials orders and go quietly into FEMA camps of converted WalMarts.

          BTW: InfoWars-Alex Jones, now banned by FarceBook.

          How many of you will cancel your FarceBook accounts? Damn few. How many of you cancel flights because of ill treatment? Damn few.

          We quit flying commercial, so should you. Don’t give money to those who show you no respect.

      4. The “Patriot Act” wasn’t Patriotic. Patriotism isn’t blind mindless obedience to unjust authority. It’s not just very Patriotic to question government, it’s not just a right, it’s a civic responsibility.

        • Kevin, seems I read somewhere that the Patriot Act is due for renewal late this year. We shall see who signs it back as law or not. I’m hoping against hope that the POTUS doesn’t.

          • Heartless, really?

            The Patriot Act will expire at the end of the year unless it is renewed by vote.

            Is that right?

            Then everyone should be shouting from the rooftops.

            Bring brochures to the Airlines to tell travelers to call the White House. Raise awareness. Write articles. Hey Mac!

            End The Patriot Act in 2019
            Or lose the election in 2020


            • Headline from 2016 —

              If They’re Correct, In 7 Months T Is About To Destroy Our Freedoms…Forever!
              The punchline was that he is in favor of restoring it, in 7 mo’s time.

              • Jones now says that the Patriot Act entitles Trump to use civil asset forfeiture on El Chapo. They can apparently see where all of his money is located.

                Just El Chapo. Not private citizens.

                This money is supposed to pay for the wall and important public works, only.

                This money would never buy goodies for cronies, like a beach chair or high-end buffet.

                I don’t particularly mind the idea of some kind of moral authority, which has some kind of favoritism, to selectively profile arch villains and their lookalikes. If there were ugly laws, and I was the prettiest, teacher’s pet.

                Unfortunately, all people, including the most-innocent of innocent bystanders, are equally-suspect, for the lack of credible profiling.

        • K – by the way – followed the links. Geo. C was right as to not to believe. You and I’d have a good interesting debate though as to symbols. Nothing out of anger, just a difference of opinion. As for Animal House….. I don’t trust much. LOL.

          • My point with Animal House is the line, “Face it, you Fuc&@d up, you trusted us”. It dramatizes how we got where we are. The “Greatest Generation” bless them for their sacrifices unfortunately trusted government. It was a natural product of the depression, post WW2 and then economic boom. Most smelled a rat with the Warren Commission as your eyes don’t lie. They still generally supported the Vietnam mess. Government, ours, theirs, his, hers, over here or overthrew are composed of self serving politicians and bureaucrats. Somewhere during the Robber Barron era extreme wealth was acquired and in creeping stages and leaps and bounds (Federal Reserve Act) power shifted from “We The People” to them. The immigrants, happy to have some chance at upward mobility certainly did not complain. It’s now so blatant, so obvious that one must intentionally with strong desire avoid what is in front of them.

            “face it, you fu#ked up, you trusted us”

      5. Unfortunately….you are all being monitored (via phone, internet, etc..) and categorized by threat level (i.e, threat to them or their system). They have a file on everybody. They know what you buy, where you go, who you associate with, where you work, what you own, weapons, etc…). And your assigned a category and threat number……for example, F7. At some point in the future they will pass a mandate that all citizens with an F classification must “fill in the blanks”. And all civilians with a threat number of 5 thru 8 must “fill in the blanks”.
        Believe me, I know what’s coming. The freedoms you think you have left will virtually vanish overnight. And there will not be enough “patriots” to stop them.!!!!!!

      6. Unfortunately….you are all being monitored (via phone, internet, etc..) and categorized by threat level (i.e, threat to them or their system). They have a file on everybody. They know what you buy, where you go, who you associate with, where you work, what you own, weapons, etc…). And your assigned a category and threat number……for example, F7. At some point in the future they will pass a mandate that all citizens with an F classification must “fill in the blanks”. And all civilians with a threat number of 5 thru 8 must “fill in the blanks”.
        Believe me, I know what’s coming. The freedoms you think you have left will virtually vanish overnight. And there will not be enough “patriots” to stop them.!!!!!!

      7. Kevin2, I always knew there was a good reason for me to enjoy your posts. You took the words right out of my mouth but that’s OK. Especially about ‘blind mindless obedience’. I’ve never been anyone’s ‘good little nazi’ and never will be.

        • The Deplorable Renegade

          Trusting is easy, questioning is difficult.

          • The Deplorable Renegade

            In light of the my above post, with the slope we’re obviously on, the questioning we’re doing, may, actually unfortunately likely, will become dangerous.

            • Kevin2, it actually started becoming dangerous to question government actions during the Clinton era and that danger increased during the Bush and Obama eras, especially under Obama. It’s only been in the most recent years that the left has shown their ‘true colors’. As you said earlier questioning authority is not only our right but our obligation. I feel we have to question everything regardless of any danger or possible consequences. For me the questioning comes easy but the trust is a different story. In fact, I’ve found too many cases where trust is impossible.

          • Trusting is easy, questioning is difficult.

            For animals maybe (cattle, sheeple, etc), right?

            For those of us with critical, questioning thought processes, not so much.

      8. It is security theatre. We either kill the bad ass Muslims, we program and chip the rest, and whoever is left is our guys.

        “A good whore works both sides of the street”.

      9. We chip pets…I guess we’ll be next………

        • The Pet stage could have been a test to see if we would accept the tech as well as the idea of ‘benign’ tracking.

      10. The only security being protected is that of the criminal fascist US government. All freedoms of the past will be lost. The pace is quickening.

      11. It is not too late to join the John Birch Society

        • They seen the “dots not connecting” way back in the 1950s. They blamed it on communists and eventually looked above them to see capitalists, the Rothschilds, Rockefeller’s, Warburg’s and the like. John Birch was sounding the caxton in China and for that he gave his life.

      12. As far as I’m concerned, the border patrol and ICE can do whatever it takes to stop the illegal immigration, drug and sex trafficking, and criminals coming through the border. Based on what is happening, if anyone is crossing the border, then CBP should automatically be granted “reasonable suspicion” status. Also, non-citizens do not have U.S. constitutional rights. Yes I believe this will make the country safer especially if they send them right back or don’t allow them in. Build the wall too! It would be much better to stop the criminals before they get in.

      13. Definitely unconstitutional. It’s nobody’s business whats in your phone or laptop. The TSA is just around to get the sheeple acclimated to having a guy like Paul Blart, mall cop having authority over them and watching helplessly as they grope their wife, their kid, their elderly Mother at the airport. I’ve flown since the late 1960’s, made my first connecting flight alone at six years of age.What a different world that was than ! Now I rarely fly anymore…I don’t like being made to pour out my coffee, take off my shoes,belt,empty pockets, get herded through an X-ray or have some little prick like on the last flight spray bomb residue detecting crap all over my hands. The TSA, keeping ‘Merica safe from the terrorists hiding behind every bush ! What a crock. Sure doesn’t feel much like the U.S.A. I remember anymore around here, especially at the airport.

      14. Make sure your phone is encrypted and if they ask you to unlock it tell them to suck petrified monkey balls.

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