Cell Phone Searches At Border Crossings Surge 1,100% In February Compared To 2015

Tyler Durden's picture

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects American citizens from "unreasonable searches and seizures" and requires "probable cause" to obtain a warrant for such searches.  But there are two places where the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply, even for U.S. citizens, and that's at border crossings and airports.  Now, according to an investigation by NBC News, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials are seriously ramping up efforts to take advantage of that fact. 

In fact, data provided by the Department of Homeland Security to NBC showed that searches of cellphones by border agents have exploded, growing fivefold in just one year, from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016.  Moreover, 2017 is expected to be a blockbuster year with 5,000 devices searched in February alone, more than in all of 2015.

"That's shocking," said Mary Ellen Callahan, former chief privacy officer at the Department of Homeland Security. She wrote the rules and restrictions on how CBP should conduct electronic searches back in 2009. "That [increase] was clearly a conscious strategy, that's not happenstance."


"This really puts at risk both the security and liberty of the American people," said Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. "Law abiding Americans are being caught up in this digital dragnet."


"This is just going to grow and grow and grow," said Senator Wyden. "There's tremendous potential for abuse here."

One such example came from a Buffalo, New York couple, Akram Shibly and Kelly McCormick, who were detained by U.S. Customs & Border Protection officers upon their return to the U.S. after a trip to Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017.  According to NBC, officers held the couple for two hours, took their cellphones and demanded their passwords.

"It just felt like a gross violation of our rights," said Shibly, a 23-year-old filmmaker born and raised in New York. But he and McCormick complied, and their phones were searched.


Three days later, they returned from another trip to Canada and were stopped again by CBP.


"One of the officers calls out to me and says, 'Hey, give me your phone,'" recalled Shibly. "And I said, 'No, because I already went through this.'"


The officer asked a second time..


Within seconds, he was surrounded: one man held his legs, another squeezed his throat from behind. A third reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone. McCormick watched her boyfriend's face turn red as the officer's chokehold tightened.


And while the left will undoubtedly link this recent surge in cell phone searches to the 'racist' Trump administration, the fact is that the practice began a decade ago, late in the George W. Bush administration, and really ramped up in the last two years of the Obama administration following domestic terrorist attacks in Orlando and San Bernadino.

But since current border search policies were written in 2009, legal advocates argue that several court cases have set new precedents that could make some CBP electronic searches illegal.

Several former DHS officials pointed to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling in Riley v California that determined law enforcement needed a warrant to search electronic devices when a person is being arrested. The court ruled unanimously, and Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion.


"Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life,'" wrote Roberts. "The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought."


Because that case happened outside of the border context, however, CBP lawyers have repeatedly asserted in court that the ruling does not apply to border searches.

Meanwhile, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) says that as early as next week he plans to propose a bill that would require CBP to at least obtain a warrant to search the electronics of U.S. citizens, and explicitly prevent officers from demanding passwords.  "The old rules ... seem to be on the way to being tossed in the garbage can," said Senator Wyden. "I think it is time to update the law."

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shimmy's picture

"Meanwhile, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) says that as early as next week he plans to propose a bill that would require CBP to at least obtain a warrant to search the electronics of U.S. citizens, and explicitly prevent officers from demanding passwords.  "The old rules ... seem to be on the way to being tossed in the garbage can," said Senator Wyden. "I think it is time to update the law."


So now that cult leader Obozo isn't president, it is worth upholding the constitution for the democrats. Gotcha.

knukles's picture

Why would a citizen's phone be examined?
Does every citizen really want to carry a phone at all times?
What else is wrong with this picture? 
Oh sorry, he wasn't asked for his!  Yeah him.  The guy from South Yemen.  Yeah him.  Whatchu mean him?  The one with the explosives vest on.


SickDollar's picture

oh you thought you were immune because you carry a  debt slave citizen passport lol

Douche McGoosh's picture
Douche McGoosh (not verified) SickDollar Mar 14, 2017 6:10 PM

"No officer, we is not hiding any Bitcoins in teh fone."


xythras's picture
xythras (not verified) Douche McGoosh Mar 14, 2017 6:17 PM

They only search chimps and muzzies.

WHITES are superior. And now have a new reason to REJOICE. Another hoax debunked:

No More Faux African Origin: Scientists Find 400,000 Year Old Fossil of Human Brain in Portugal



2017 year of Kek: the gift that keeps on giving. Fuck libtards with their African origin theory 

vato poco's picture

eat a dick, spam boy. fewer clicks on your bullshit malware-ridden website mean you have to go for gaudier & edgier come-ons? is that it? what's next? "Kim and her sisters fuck donkeys! click here!" "5 weird reasons why nobody has to pay income tax!"??

overbet's picture

One could always back up the phone and then factory reset it. Once through, install the back up onto the phone. Any "terrosit" worth his salt would easily defeat this tactic.


Are they taking the phones elsewhere and downloading the contents or looking through it in front of the owner?



vato poco's picture

so ya buy a $20 burner phone used only for check-ins and emergencies, and leave the real phone at home. 

tp protect it from predatory and sticky-fingered government federales. 

just like you would in *any* banana republic police state. 

or drive 500 miles out of your way to skip the 100-mile "border" zone. 

*sigh* c'mon Trump: drain faster

Déjà view's picture

Do not transit borders...problem solved...cuts both ways...can't have your cake and eat it too...

Press UNO for Español...DOS for english...

Si Señor...

vato poco's picture

in Texas, 100 miles from the gulf/border is...about...La Grange. that ain't the border, and being there, or just *living* in Houston ain't "transiting a border". fuck the police state, who works so hard to fuck with, steal from and arrest everyone they can, EXCEPT.....


CPL's picture

No one is immune.

Here's the reason.  No one actually owns their phone.  If anyone actually bothered reading the EULA for service provision and the phones themselves, the average consumer is completely unaware that they are just renting the materials for the five major phone dealers.  The government traded the technology arena of a handful of people for the legal right to lock you in to any EULA they wanted with the governments blessing.  The service providers sold the rest of the business in turning net neutrality into exclusives.

They record everything...everyone...all the time.  That is what SOPA and PIPA was about.  The government traded a monopoly for profits for direct access to everyone with a cell phone.  The search and seizures, just by opening the wrapper and hooking it up to a service provider that's government authorized under SOPA/PIPA, those rights to privacy were thrown away years and years ago.

Here's the thing about laws in general, especially in a representative democracy, if people don't like that law then bring it to court and challenge it.

nmewn's picture

Correct, on all counts.

So its highly advisable for now to NOT take selfies with ones ole buddy from high school now wanted by INTERPOL while on that trip to Brazil after just happening to bump into him on the beach or keep that treasured download from the Anarchist Cookbook in the My Documents.

I'm jus sayin ;-)

CPL's picture

You scan the qr code to put it on any device and everything is on a NetAppliance (who do you think their major sponsor is?) buried in Colorado somewhere.  You can even use the phones to 'xray' a room using echo location like in the movie the batman in a 3d live map.  It's pretty hot stuff.



Koba the Dread's picture

I may not own my phone (then again, I may indeed own my phone though other chumps may not) but I do own my laptop. Computers may be searched as well as phones. Therefore, your reasoning breaks down completely. As to bringing the disliked law into court? Do you have any idea how expensive it is to get any matter to trial and through appeals in the federal court system, how much time is involved for the principle as well as for counsel? Of course you don't. Otherwise you would not have made such an inane comment.

CPL's picture



It's the law and if you are using their products you have no rights.  That's how it works.  When they changed the laws no one spoke up and then you all became their bitch.  Seriously, go read that thick wad you all signed to get bent over the barrel.


nmewn's picture

Yeah, and not to go all Trump is Hitler and reveal myself as a member of his Aryan Youth Brigade on the deal...(not that I would ever be accused of being young...lol)...BUT...I looked up our boy Mr Shibly...cuz, ya know being as how its NBC Fake Nuuuz I was curious, so well...


Published: September 7, 2015, 5:59 pm  Updated: September 7, 2015, 6:26 pmAMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — “Waiting at the Door” is the name Akram Shibly has given to his documentary on the plight of Syrian refugees currently in camps in the Middle East.

He traveled to the camps in Jordan recently with his father and sister."


So I dunno, he does seem legit but he is "documentary film maker" so now he has some material ;-)




Skeero's picture

I would just overnight my phone? lol.

spicedune's picture
spicedune (not verified) Mar 14, 2017 5:42 PM

can we see comparison of whats happened in the broader economy too www.inflation.co

CH1's picture

"now that cult leader Obozo isn't president, it is worth upholding the constitution"...

Of course, typical. But...

"The liberties of the American people"? What would those be? The liberty to be extorted? The liberty to sing praises to their abusers?

Stan522's picture

We lost our Fourth Amendment Rights when Bush took it away with the Patriot Act....

swmnguy's picture

The USA PATRIOT Act was pretty much the running catch-all wish list maintained by Janet Reno throughout the Clinton Administration, going back to Bush I and Reagan years.  They didn't write that whole damn thing in a week.  It was ever insane bad idea the police-state enthusiasts had come up with for over a decade prior.

moorewasthebestbond's picture

No, Reagan killed the Fourth Amendment with his massively expanded War on Some Drugs.

konadog's picture

Nixon started the "drug war". It was among his many patriotic acts like refusing to honor the commitment to redeem federal reserve notes for gold. Fact is we have had nothing but deep state scum since the CIA and the oil tycoons killed Kennedy.

Archibald Buttle's picture

among his many patriotic acts


had to log in to upvote ya for that gem.

Rolln's picture

I'm more worried about my girlfriend getting into my phone than that CBP...

ghengis86's picture

You should be even more worried about your wife!

City_Of_Champyinz's picture

LOL that could get mess in a hurry...

29.5 hours's picture

The border police will also demand the passkey if you have encrypted your phone messages. This is unconstitutional — but they dare you to defend that right against unreasonable search and seizure. They know that most people are not in a position to go the Supreme Court just to get back home.


major major major major's picture

Just get rid of "government" borders

BlindMonkey's picture

Every day is a day closer to my expatriation and I will NEVER come back.


Fuck you US Gov.

wildbad's picture

I'm out but the noose is tightening everywhere.

TalkToLind's picture

Wait, you went to Canada?

BenBache's picture

The problem lies in the majority of the voting class who love a police state and perpetual war.  100% of the voting class supports perpetual war and the police state, because the masters give only those options in elections and voters say OK, fine by me, who cares about my rights as long as the masters protect my precious bodily fluids in my obese body.

Archibald Buttle's picture

so how about we start to organize a write in campaign for the next election. how many "the guy who doesn't want to start any wars" votes gets someone's attention?

and, sadly, i know it is somewhere around one vote (to attract attention). so i guess the plan should be enough to make it a costly pain in the ass to interview/surveil each and every person that writes it in.

perhaps encouraging the beast to get fat and lazy will work better than trying to starve it. lord knows that plan has worked wonders on the american populace.

Clashfan's picture

Because it's not enough that the NSA and CIA have it all. Other agencies want it, too. Wonder why.

Creeps abound.

I feel soooooo safe.

Chupacabra-322's picture

Sir / Madam,

Do you own or have a cell phone in your possession.

Driver: No.

Don't say another word. And, never, ever under any circumstances talk or answer any questions from Criminal Fraud LEO, it's Agents or Officials. Never.

Please support the

National Security Elimination Act of 2017.

Small Government Is Better's picture

My impression of LEOs is that they were not smart enough to be criminals, and they were lazy.  So, they became LEOs to reach the easy life.  Now, they work diligently at civil asset seizures to assure their pensions are well funded.  In effect, they have become worse than the thieves they were hired to pursue and detain.  

NoPension's picture

What the fuck are they looking for?

Chupacabra-322's picture

It's not what the fuck they're looking for.

It's what the fuck they're going to Spoof, hack, install to Neutralize, set you up, False Arrest & Eliminate adversaries.

Don't talk to Cops Part 1


CPL's picture

They flash the phones by the square bar code on their desks and put some extra programming into them.  Consider it a free update on their phones, with people going overseas, they are turning tourists into spy cameras basically.

aloha_snakbar's picture

Clown porn... you know ... lots of moaning and honking...

I am Jobe's picture

Land of the free. Americans are exceptional. 

aloha_snakbar's picture

Thank you; its about time someone noticed...

BustainMovealota's picture

Psyops,, to show you who is in control and to condition you to be submissive to authority.

knukles's picture

What are you doing? 
I'm going through security.
Take your shoes off.
They're not shoes, they're my hooves.
Sir, you cannot go through security in a cow outfit.
I identity today as a cow.  Mooooo.  Here. cop a feel of my nipples.  All 6 of 'em. 


aloha_snakbar's picture

Two cows standing in a field, first cow says, "Arent you worried about catching Mad Cow disease?", other cow says, "not me... Im a squirrel"...

Chupacabra-322's picture

Do you know what & why the real reason people go to prison or get arrested is? Talking.

The line between "simple basic questions" and "interrogation" is very blurry in the U.S. because cops are not required to tell you that they're conducting an official investigation. Pay attention to the kind of questions the cop asks you during a stop. Giving him your basic info is fine (drivers license and address, and is required in many states) but if he starts asking you things like, "where were you 20 minutes ago" or "where are you coming from" or "do you know [name of some felon you've never met]" you should start getting uncomfortable. At that point, start asking him questions like, "am I under arrest" or "am I free to go?" If the cop avoids answering those questions, then assume that you ARE under arrest and decline to answer any further questions without an attorney present.?

hmmmstrange's picture

The "border" extends 100 miles from the actual border........

hmmmstrange's picture

And dont forget that the coasts are also the border. Most people in the USA live within the "border" zone.