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Homeland Security Sued Over Phone, Laptop Searches At Border

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A lawsuit was filed against the Department of Homeland Security or DHS, alleging that the forced searches of phones and laptops at at airports and at the U.S. border are illegal and violated plaintiffs' constitutional rights.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation or EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU sued the DHS on Wednesday on behalf of 11 travelers whose smartphones and laptops were searched without warrants at the U.S. border.

The plaintiffs include 10 US citizens and one lawful permanent resident, most of whom are Muslims or people of color. The group includes journalists, students, a NASA engineer and an artist. They were reentering the US following business or personal travel. The filing noted that some plaintiffs had their devices confiscated for weeks or months, and following the searches, no one were accused of any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit claims the plaintiffs' First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated when U.S. agents searched their devices without a warrant.

According to the government, such searches are authorized by the same laws that allow border agents to check luggage. Meanwhile, privacy activists notes that such laws shouldn't apply to digital devices that contain vast amounts of personal data.

David Lapan, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, reportedly said that they absolutely believe the searches are lawful.

by RTT Staff Writer

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