Credo Action

Stop illegal cell phone searches at the border

Sign the petition

The petition to Congress reads:

"U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents have been conducting illegal searches of American citizens’ private data at the border in clear violation of the Constitution and a landmark Supreme Court ruling. Pass Sen. Ron Wyden’s ‘Protecting Data at the Border’ Act immediately."

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    Stop illegal cell phone searches at the border

    In brazen disregard for the Constitution and our civil liberties, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents have been forcing travelers entering the country to hand over the passwords to their cell phones and other devices without a warrant at an alarming rate.1

    The government has absolutely no right to search and seize our private property, let alone snoop through our lives on social media, view our private photos or download our personal data, without probable cause and a warrant.

    Sen. Ron Wyden recently introduced legislation that would prohibit law enforcement from barring entry to Americans who refuse to provide their passwords at the border and explicitly require a search warrant before any phone owned by a U.S. citizen is searched.2 Without this critical legislation, Trump’s out-of-control CBP agents will continue violating the Constitution, our privacy and Fourth Amendment rights. The CBP must be reined in immediately.

    Tell Congress: Pass the Protecting Data at the Border Act.

    CBP believes that your Fourth Amendment rights don’t apply at the border and claims it has the right to search, confiscate and download personal data from devices without a warrant or probable cause, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, American citizens do not have to comply with CBP demands to hand over their passwords, however, CBP has been detaining citizens for longer periods of time and seizing devices for weeks or months.3

    Immigrants, foreign tourists and Muslims fare even worse at the border, as CBP carries out Trump’s racist war on immigrants and Muslims. Non-citizens at the border who do not divulge passwords risk being turned away, and a recent investigation by NBC News found that in the vast majority of cases reviewed – 23 out of 25 – American Muslim passengers were singled out for illegal searches of their devices.4

    A landmark unanimous 2014 Supreme Court case ruled that digital data searched at the border is different than physical property and should require a warrant, but CBP continues to conduct unconstitutional searches. Sen. Wyden’s bill would:

    • Require law enforcement to get a warrant based on probable cause before they can search a device of a U.S. person.
    • Prohibit officials from delaying or denying entry to the U.S. if a person declines to hand over passwords, PINs, and social media account information.
    • Require law enforcement to have probable cause before they can seize a device.5

    Simply put, the Constitution applies at the U.S. border, and Sen. Wyden’s bill would put an end to CBP’s racist, illegal campaign to seize American citizens' private data. We must speak out now to ensure this critical legislation is passed as soon as possible.

    Tell Congress: Pass the Protecting Data at the Border Act.

    Thanks for all you do.


    1. Brian Naylor, "U.S. Border Patrol Agents Step Up Cellphone Searches," National Public Radio, April 10, 2017.
    2. Sen. Ron Wyden, "Wyden, Paul, Polis and Farenthold Bill Requires Warrants to Search Americans’ Digital Devices at the Border," April 4, 2017.
    3. Esha Bhandari, Nathan Freed Wessler and Noa Yachot, “Can Border Agents Search Your Electronic Devices? It’s Complicated.” American Civil Liberties Union, March 14, 2017.
    4. Cynthia McFadden, E.D. Cauchi, William M. Arkin and Kevin Monahan, "American Citizens: U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone," NBC News, March 13, 2017.
    5. Sen. Ron Wyden, "Summary of Protecting Data at the Border Act"