U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are searching the electronic devices of travelers at an alarmingly increasing rate a new watchdog report has found, Associated Press reported.
The government watchdog — the Office of the Inspector General for Homeland Security — found there were 29,000 devices searched at a port of entry out of 397 million travelers to the U.S. in the year 2017, up from 18,400 the year before from 390 million travelers.
The agency further found that several searches conducted by Customs and Border Protection officers were not properly documented, and the data was not properly secured as per protocol. Some of the devices that were searched included officers looking into cloud-related content, in violation of procedures. Apparently, while officers can search a device, they are not permitted to search what’s on a traveler’s cloud network. Homeland Security is the department that oversees the U.S.’s borders.
In addition, the report noted that in some cases, under a pilot program, officers are permitted to do what’s known as an “advanced” search which means a specially trained officer can download information. However, that system wasn’t maintained properly — software licensing wasn’t renewed — and some information copied to thumb drives was not deleted when it should have been, according to the government watchdog.
The watchdog recommended that the DHS maintain better documentation of searches, disable data connections before searches, keep equipment renewable and up-to-date, immediately delete data from thumb drives and develop a system to evaluate whether the pilot program works.
Earlier this year in October, Activist Post reported how this trend of “digital data papers please” was accelerating noting that New Zealand has now openly declared it as a policy.
Nicholas West writes:
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