Do Warrantless Searches of Electronic Devices at the Border Violate the Fourth Amendment? [Updated March 17, 2021]   [open pdf - 712KB]

From the Document: "The Fourth Amendment commands that searches and seizures be reasonable [hyperlink], and generally requires the government to secure a warrant based on probable cause [hyperlink] before arresting or searching an individual. But the Supreme Court has long recognized [hyperlink] that the government may conduct routine inspections and searches of individuals entering at the U.S. border without a warrant or any individualized suspicion of criminal activity. In recent decades, some federal courts have applied [hyperlink] the 'border search exception' to allow relatively limited, manual searches [hyperlink] at the border of electronic devices such as computers and cell phones. Courts, however, have disagreed over whether more intrusive, forensic examinations [hyperlink] of such devices require heightened suspicion of criminal activity. Recently in 'Alasaad v. Mayorkas' [hyperlink], the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit overturned a federal district court's ruling that any 'non-cursory' border search of an electronic device--whether conducted manually or forensically--requires reasonable suspicion that the device contains contraband. This Legal Sidebar examines the application of the Fourth Amendment's border search exception to searches of electronic devices and the 'Alasaad' litigation concerning the reach of the government's border search authority."

Report Number:
CRS Legal Sidebar, LSB10387
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
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