Digital Border Searches

Changes have been steadily implemented for entry into the USA which would place staff at risk of breaching privacy and ethics agreements by exposing data to third parties.

❝ In the last six months, nearly 15,000 travelers had one of their devices searched at the border. Compare that to just 8,503 between October 2014 and October 2015, or 19,033 the following year. ❞ [1]

What are the issues?
• Warrantless device searches (US Borders) [1, 2, 3]
• A push for foreign visitors should have to give up their online passwords and submit to social-media searches if they want to enter the United States
• The government has asserted that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers may operate immigration checkpoints anywhere within 100 miles of the external boundary of the United States. [2, 3]
• Britain and the US have banned laptops and tablet computers from the passenger compartment of flights from several Middle East and North African nations [5]
• The US is considering a cabin laptop ban on flights from UK airports [6]

These searches impact on laptops, tablets and smart phones and any or all of these devices could expose staff to a breach of privacy and/or ethics depending on the level of access to data from the device. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution available and each staff member should identify the risks associated with their devices and data before traveling.

There are several approaches recommended by the EFF [4] for minimizing the data exposure risk;
• Leave Your Devices at Home or Work (If you do not need them, do not carry them)
• Use a Temporary Device (Use a loan laptop, use a phone without data, hire devices on arrival)
• Shift Content From Devices to Cloud Services (Have you used MyUniApps and Office365?)
• Delete Information From Your Devices (do not carry the data on the devices)
• Use Private Browsing Mode (Pages will not be cached locally using this mode)
• Digital Cameras (Don’t forget that these devices contain data that is hard to secure)

[1] The Steady Rise of Digital Border Searches (2017-Apr-12)
[2] Privacy at Borders and Checkpoints
[3] The Constitution in the 100-Mile Border Zone
[4] Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border:
Protecting the Data On Your Devices and In the Cloud
[5] Laptop ban explained: What do new US and UK rules mean
[6] US considers cabin laptop ban on flights from UK airports

This entry was posted in 2017, security. Bookmark the permalink.

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