(by Kelly McDonald, Jr) There has been a recent spike in US border agents searching cell phones, including phones that belong to US citizens. In 2015, less than 5,000 cell phones were searched, while in 2016 almost 25,000 were searched. 5,000 phones were explored in February 2017 alone! These numbers are dramatically increasing, but why?
In 2015 and 2016, there were terror attacks conducted by US citizens. As a result, border patrol agents are stepping up their efforts to better vet US citizens, especially those who were naturalized. The agents are searching through call logs, videos, photos, and other data to extract any information that could be connected to terrorism. Law experts and lawmakers have conceded that the fourth amendment (which protects against illegal searches) does not apply at the border. Some travelers have complained about having their phones checked on the way out of the country and on the way back in. In the near future, we may see a new legal challenge enter federal courts to clarify this situation.