Electronics Subject to Search at Border Crossing

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HIDALGO – Customs and Border Protection can search someone’s personal devices at the border. It includes laptops, cell phones and anything electronic.

Some people crossing the border are still taken aback by what CBP can search. CBP has the right to search what’s on the person and what is on the hard drive of a phone.

Antonio Munigia is part of a new generation of border crossers. He is attached to his smartphone.

Munigia said it recently happened to his friend. He said his friend was surprised that they asked him for his phone.

“But if you come here… if you don’t cooperative things will get misinterpreted,” he said.

Meanwhile, other people are more protective of their belongings.

New guidelines state customs officers can view what’s on phones but cannot view information that’s stored remotely.

It means they can only view data that’s on your hard drive and not on the cloud. Customs instructs officers to place the phone on “Airplane Mode” when searching devices.

And if a phone is locked, an officer can request a person to unlock it.

Customs said the phone can be confiscated if someone refuses to unlock the phone, but as long as the individual has their papers in order, they will not be detained.

The latest numbers from Customs and Border Protection show the number of searches on electronic devices increased over last year. More than 30,000 electronic devices were searched in the fiscal year 2017.

In August, CBP had its highest numbers of monthly searches recorded inspecting more than 3,000 devices.

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