The U.S. Constitution generally places strong limits on the government’s ability to pry into this information. At the U.S. border, however, those limits are not as strong, both legally and practically. As a matter of the law, some legal protections are weaker – a fact EFF is working to change. As a matter of practice, border agents may take a broad view of what they are permitted to do. Border agents may attempt to scrutinize the content stored on your phones, laptops, and other portable electronic devices. They may try to use your devices as portals to access your cloud content, including electronic communications, social media postings, and ecommerce activity. Moreover, agents may seek to examine your public social media postings by obtaining your social media identifiers or handles. As of this writing, the federal government is considering requiring disclosure from certain foreign visitors of social media login credentials, allowing access to private postings and “friend” lists.
Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border: Protecting the Data On Your Devices and In the Cloud