Border Agents Searched 11000 More Devices in 2017

Cocaine Philly port

CBP is authorized to search the cell phones, laptops, tablets and other electronic devices of any global traveler at the border, whether or not they are US citizens.

This is CBP's largest cocaine seizure in Philadelphia since officers intercepted 864 pounds of cocaine concealed in a shipping container from the Dominican Republic March 8, 2007.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has asked the Customs and Border Protection to provide information about a potential five-year, $297 million contract awarded to Accenture for recruitment support services.

"In this digital age, border searches of electronic devices are essential to enforcing the law at the USA border and to protecting the American people", said John Wagner, deputy executive assistant commissioner for the agency's Office of Field Operations, in a statement. CBP agents would not be allowed to seek information stored externally or on a "cloud" linked to the device. "If presented with an electronic device containing information that is protected by a passcode or encryption or other security mechanisms, an officer may request the individual's assistance in presenting the electronic device and the information contained therein in a condition that allows inspection of the device and its contents". If the traveler does not disable the network connectivity themselves, the agent will, according to the policy. Nevertheless, the New Directive makes clear that USCBP officers will continue to ask for passcodes and other means of access in order to inspect electronic devices. The directive comes in time with the reported rise in electronic device inspection at USA airports a year ago.

However, agents can detain a device for more than 15 days with the approval of the director of field operations, the chief patrol agent, the director of air operations, the director of marine operations, the special agent in charge or any other equivalent manager, all of whom can also re-approve the detention every seven days.

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CBP's mid-Atlantic Field Operations Director Casey Owen Durst praised his agents' use of "imaging technology to detect and intercept an huge amount of cocaine cleverly concealed in a shipment of furniture" in these busts. However, the agency will also keep a copy for "purposes of complying with a litigation hold or other requirements".

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offered some praise for the directive.

"In this digital age, border searches of electronic devices are essential to enforcing the law at the USA border and to protecting the American people", CBP official John Wagner said in a statement. However, officers connecting to the phone and copying files for analysis constitutes an advanced search.

On a typical day, CBP said agents seize 7,910 pounds of illicit drugs along the US' borders.

A supervisor must be present, or at least notified at a later date, that an Advanced Search has been carried out.

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