US Border Officials Can Look On Your Phone But Cloud Data Is Out Of Bounds

By Ian Morris on at

As we rumble toward a future where owning any secret information is punishable by life in prison, there is some good news from the US. Border officials are allowed to look through your phone without a warrant (and without probable cause) but they aren't allowed to check your cloud data.

Although it's likely to be cold comfort for some of us who would rather our phones weren't subjected to the roving eye of someone you've just met, it does perhaps give the most paranoid among us a way out. For example, you could wipe your iPhone entirely as you prepare to go across the border and then restore the device from a cloud backup when you arrive.

US Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McALeenan said "CBP's authority to conduct border searches extends to all merchandise entering or departing the United States, including information that is physically resident on an electronic device transported by an international traveller. Therefore, border searches conducted by CBP do not extend to information that is located solely on remote servers".

You can also still refuse to give your device password to officials but you might find it gets confiscated and you may not be allowed into the country if you're a foreign national. Best advice then is to wipe your phone before you land, although for most people they will likely conclude that it's just not worth it, and allow the border officers to have a look at their WhatsApp messages. [via: Engadget]

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