Countermeasures for Electronic Device Searches

Your personal electronic devices contain data about you and your activities, data which is private and no one else's business. When authorities require access to your devices, phone apps, email or social media accounts as a condition of crossing the national border, without specific reasons to suspect your culpability in a crime, it is an act of blatant overreach and abuse of power. It is a similar act of overreach to search devices randomly on the streets or in shopping malls, subway stops, or bus terminals.

The best way to protect yourself from an unfavorable outcome after an electronics search is to have clean devices before the search begins. Zero your devices, leave them at home, or don't have devices with controversial data. Travelers are being denied entry to countries because friends posted radicalized material on social media. People have been stopped on the street in more than one authoritarian country and been subjected to arrest for having images of pro-democracy protests. Protect yourselves by having nothing of value on your phones or computers when entering an area where you may be subjected to a random search or broad security sweep.

The list of defensive acts below is posted here to help you protect your personal data from invasive searches and sweeps by authorities. In essence, don't bring data into a search:

The above list is a starting point, not an end, for ways to protect your private data. Expect more and more future threats to your privacy and unreasonable demands to give up your data. Rarely, if ever, is it in your interest to cooperate, so make a strong effort to give up nothing, ever.


Tags:Phone searches at the border, electronics searches an the train station, wipe your devices, zero your phone
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