Appeals Court: Border Searches of Cell Phones Require 'Reasonable Suspicion'

A federal appeals court has ruled that U.S. border officials may not conduct a forensic search of a mobile device without a "reasonable suspicion" that the device contains evidence of a crime. The court's decision followed Riley v. California, a 2014 Supreme Court case holding that the Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant to search a cell phone. EPIC filed an amicus brief in the Riley case, cited by the Supreme Court, about the detailed personal data stored in cell phones. EPIC's Alan Butler predicted that the Riley decision would lead courts to require "reasonable suspicion" for border searches. EPIC recently filed a FOIA suit against against a federal agency for information about the warrantless searches of cell phones. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) have introduced legislation to place restrictions on searches and seizures of electronic devices at the border.

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