Saturday, April 1, 2017

US border agents are doing 'digital strip searches'. Here's how to protect yourself

From: The Guardian 

The number of mobile phones being searched at the US border is exploding, but certain steps can help secure your privacy

Searches of mobile phones by US border agents grew from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016. Photograph: JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images/Blend Images

Last month, the US-born Nasa engineer Sidd Bikkannavar was pulled into additional screening when he entered the US after a two-week vacation in Chile. He was taken into a room and told to hand over his phone and passcode. He explained that the phone belonged to Nasa and contained important work-related data, but immigration officials insisted and handed him a document explaining that the penalty for refusing was “detention”. He eventually complied and they took his phone into a another room for 30 minutes before allowing him to leave.
Bikkannavar never found out why he was chosen for additional screening. He had not travelled to any of the Muslim-majority countries included in Trump’s travel ban.
Cases like this are exploding. According to data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), searches of mobile phones by border agents grew from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016 (DHS told the Guardian that there was an anomaly in the 2016 data, but did not reveal how that changes these figures). Anecdotal evidence indicates that searches have risen further in the wake of the election of Donald Trump.  MORE