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  US Immigration Control: Border Guard Restricts Smartphone Search | Bit Updates
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US Immigration Control: Border Guard Restricts Smartphone Search

Saturday, January 6th, 2018 | bitcoin updates

    (Picture: faungg's photos, CC BY-ND 2.0)
             Access to data in the cloud should no longer be allowed, according to the revised guideline of the US border agency for the inspection of electronic devices. A court order is still not required.


        The US Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) released a revised version of its mobile device search policy on entry control on Friday (PDF). Employees of the Customs and Border Protection agency are no longer allowed access to data that is stored in cloud services and not directly stored on a smartphone, tablet or laptop during the controversial inspection. Access is only allowed to information that does not require an additional wireless data connection. Acting head of agency Kevin McAleenan had announced the reform this summer.
The new guidelines distinguish between a "simple" and an "advanced" search. In the latter case, an official can access a mobile device via radio or via the USB port, inspect data or applications on it, or even copy it. For this, usually easy-to-use tools from manufacturers such as Cellebrite, MSAB or Radio Tactics are used, which among other things also deduct device and system information, connection and location data, information about WLAN access points used and even data from hard-to-access partitions. The information can then also be incorporated into big data analysis for predictive policing.
Arbitrary access without judicial decisionThe comprehensive inspection is now only permitted if there is a reasonable suspicion of illegal activities or if a danger to national security is suspected and a supervisor confirms this. The hurdle, however, is low, because many factors can suggest that: Conspicuous behavior is as much a part of it as an entry on an observation or even anti-terrorist list. Even without such reasons, a border guard at any time continue to demand the release of mobile devices and possibly associated passwords and review the applications and files located thereon.
The number of electronic devices that CBP officials searched international travelers between October 2016 and September 2017 has increased significantly from 19,051 to 30,200, according to official figures. According to CBP, only 0.007 percent of the total of over 397 million incoming US visitors were affected, it is said. In 2016, it was 0.005 percent.
Data hygiene prior to entryJohn Wagner, vice-director of the authority, emphasized that the basic and civil rights of those entering the country would be protected by such measures. However, last year the instrument once again provided valuable information in the fight against terrorism, child sexual abuse, visa fraud or infringements of immaterial rights, as well as import and export regulations. The US civil rights organization ACLU stressed that the new provisions are still unconstitutional, as judicial orders would be needed for the searches. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a guide on how data hygiene can mitigate government access to mobile devices.
 (Stefan Krempl) /




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