Civil liberty defenders are raising alarm over the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) increasingly common searches of domestic travelers’ personal electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, and cell phones.
The TSA announced last October that it would begin using heightened procedures to screen electronics, but the details of how the policy is implemented and how agents decide which travelers can be subjected to a warrantless search of their devices remain “shrouded in secrecy,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“Our phones and laptops contain very personal information, and the federal government should not be digging through our digital data without a warrant.” —Vasudha Talla, ACLU
After receiving numerous complaints from Americans regarding what they say is an invasion of their privacy by the TSA, the ACLU’s Northern California chapter filed suit on Monday, demanding information about TSA’s procedures and protocols for searching travelers’ electronics and equipment used to search or extract data from personal devices.
“TSA is searching the electronic devices of domestic passengers, but without offering any reason for the search,” said Vasudha Talla, a staff attorney with the ACLU. “We don’t know why the government is singling out some passengers, and we don’t know what exactly TSA is searching on the devices. Our phones and laptops contain very personal information, and the federal government should not be digging through our digital data without a warrant.”
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