The long-standing “Border Search Exception” to the Fourth Amendment allows Customs and Border Protection to search individuals near the border without a warrant. Courts have recognized the right of the United States to protect itself by inspecting persons and property entering the country, and searches at the border are considered “reasonable” by the nature of the location. But how might this doctrine affect the privacy of your electronic devices, like a cell phone or laptop, at the border? The Cato Institute’s Matthew Feeney explores Supreme Court cases, statutes, and other related policies to give us a clearer picture of this complicated topic in this episode of POLICYbrief.

As always, the Federalist Society takes no particular legal or public policy positions. All opinions expressed are those of the speaker.

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Related Links & Differing Views:

Wikipedia: “Border Search Exception”

EFF: “Law Enforcement Uses Border Search Exception as Fourth Amendment Loophole”

DOJ: “Border Issues” (2014)

EFF: “Ninth Circuit Goes a Step Further to Protect Privacy in Border Device Searches”

CATO: “Walling off Liberty”

DHS: “Border Searches of Electronic Devices”

CRS Report for Congress “Protecting Our Perimeter: ‘Border Searches’ Under the Fourth Amendment”

CBP DIRECTIVE NO. 3340-049A: “Border Searches of Electronic Devices” (2018)