Boston – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the ACLU of Massachusetts will urge an appeals court on Tuesday to require warrants for the government to search electronic devices at U.S. airports and other ports of entry—ensuring that the Fourth Amendment protects travelers as they enter the country. The hearing is at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m. PT on January 5, and is available to watch by livestream.

In 2017, ten U.S citizens and one lawful permanent resident who regularly travel outside of the country with cell phones, laptops, and other electronic devices sued the Department of Homeland Security for illegal searches of their devices when they reentered the country. The suit, Alasaad v. Wolf, challenged the government’s practice of searching travelers’ electronic equipment without a warrant and usually without any suspicion that the traveler is guilty of wrongdoing.

In a historic win for digital privacy, a federal district court judge ruled in Alasaad that suspicionless electronic device searches at U.S. ports of entry violate the Fourth Amendment. The court required that border agents have reasonable suspicion that a device contains digital contraband before searching or seizing it. At Tuesday’s hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, ACLU attorney Esha Bhandari will argue that the Constitution requires a warrant based on probable cause to search our electronic devices at the border —just as is required everywhere else in the United States.

Hearing in Alasaad v. Wolf

Tuesday, January 5
9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 a.m PT


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