Protecting Fourth Amendment Rights at the Border
by Blake Farenthold on May 1, 2017 at 11:03 AM
When the Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights, they provided American citizens with protections for individual liberties including free speech, the right to bear arms, and more. The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from "unreasonable searches and seizures" without a warrant. While this has stopped law enforcement officers from conducting unlawful searches of vehicles, homes and physical belongings, there are exceptions for those crossing the border. These exceptions make sense when customs agents are searching for drugs and other contraband, but the government is taking it too far when they demand access to American citizens’ phones, laptops, and even social media accounts. What contraband is on a digital device? And why would a criminal risk smuggling it in when could simply email it across the border?
That's why several of my colleagues and I introduced the Protecting Data at the Border Act to ensure Americans are not forced to endure indiscriminate and suspicionless searches of their phones, laptops and other digital devices. Just because you cross the border doesn’t mean the government can violate your Constitutional rights and the feds have the authority to read everything on your computer. To read the full text of the bill, please click here. The protection only applies to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. It will not interfere with the government's ability to vet foreigners entering the country.