How do I prevent Border Patrol from accessing all my data on my phone?

patgon40

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Feb 14, 2017
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A US citizen was ordered to surrender and open his phone by Customs Border Patrol. The phone contained classified NASA files. He would've been detained if he didn't surrender his pin and password and phone. I wonder if you could safely travel abroad with your phone and swap your information when you cross the border and swap it back when you're home. I just like my privacy and expedient border crossing without being embarrassed or harrassed.
 
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Aquila

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Feb 24, 2012
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Re: How do I prevent Border Patrol from accessng all my data on my phone?

Unfortunately, in this case you have to choose between privacy and expedience. For privacy: Turn the phone off with a lock screen password. Go ahead and get detained, when they present a warrant or decide they're going to file an arrest, call an attorney. Do not unlock the phone for them. For expedience: don't do any of the stuff in the "privacy" list.
 

LeoRex

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Yeah... this is still in a bit of flux at the moment. No one knows who can do what... and even though there is some case law that defines what law enforcement can and can't do ... they can compel you to unlock with a fingerprint, but they CAN'T force you to unlock via a PIN or password... go figure...

But until the dust settles as far as what CBP can do, safe to say that CBP will get what they want.
 

patgon40

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Re: How do I prevent Border Patrol from accessng all my data on my phone?

I've gone the rebel route and got detained once at Heathrow for a different reason. I was late for work for 3 days and was fired. I guess given the choices, It's better to buy a pay as you go phone while abroad these travel ban days.
 

Aquila

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If it helps, in the last 15 years the number of times that customs or TSA or any agent associated with travel has asked to inspect my phone has been 0.

I'm assuming we're talking about this article: http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/12/1...ar-detained-cbp-phone-search-trump-travel-ban - if he actually did have classified information on the device, then turning the phone over without specific authorization from NASA's legal counsel would potentially be a crime with consequences being far more severe than declining to provide access to the phone while awaiting authorization. Sorry, but this guy is a fool who caved because he was afraid of inconvenience. He absolutely could have called an attorney and if there was actually sensitive information, he would be required to do so.
 

Thud Hardsmack

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Mar 22, 2015
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It's unfortunate that US law is still murky on this; on one hand they shouldn't have been able to compel a citizen to unlock without having prior knowledge of the existence of particular files on the device, but on the other just knowing of the device itself they're OK to invoke the foregone conclusion doctrine and have a device be unlocked. To answer the 2nd part of your question, I'd highly recommend buy a cheapo travel device that you can just slap a SIM in and go on your merry way. If you absolutely want to have your main/primary device, back it up, wipe it, and have a relatively clear device to travel with and full restore when you get home. Either way, store data in a cloud account while abroad, and delete access to those cloud accounts before crossing the border.
 

LeoRex

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If I was in that situation, I would have most likely told the CBP to pound sand and insist that I contact counsel. But my name also isn't 'Sidd Bikkannavar', so I suspect I wouldn't be given the same treatment as this poor dude received.
 

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