In a victory for those of us concerned about the erosion of privacy rights in the digital age, we commend to you this recent United States District Court opinion entered in Alasaad, et al. v. Nielsen, Sec. of the US, Department of Homeland Security, et al.. Case number, 17-CV-11730-DJC.
In a nutshell, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and, to a lesser extent, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement took the position that, without any individualized reasonable suspicion, it had authority to search the electronic devices of American citizens and permanent resident aliens entering the United States. In a carefully reasoned, detailed opinion, the District Court ruled that, because there is a diminished expectation of privacy at the border, probable cause and a warrant are not required prior to searching an individual’s electronic device; however, before such a search can take place, agents must have individualized reasonable suspicion or a national security concern.
Privacy issues such as our right to be secure in our personal electronic devices is essential to in our modern digital world where so much of our private thoughts and interests are stored in our personal electronic devices. We will continue to monitor this case and others impacting our privacy interests.