Vacations, Digital Privacy, and You

Jake Chanenson

As the countdown to summer vacation dwindles closer to zero, many students look forward to an exciting summer vacation. If your summer plans take you aboard you may want to put some extra thought into what devices you bring.

There has been a disturbing uptick in so called “digital strip searches” at the US border. In short, while re-entering the United States, border agents can demand that you open up your phone and search its contents. They can also ask for social media handles and account credentials–your usernames and passwords. You can say no. However, if you do say no, border agents have the power to seize your devices–which could be held for several weeks–and copy its contents. In addition, they can make your life more difficult by detaining you for questioning.

So, when packing for your trip be aware of the potential risk you are taking when deciding to bring your non-essential devices with you. The EFF put together a handy pocket guide on the issue and what precautions to take. It can be found here:

https://www.eff.org/sites/all/libraries/pdf.js/web/viewer.html?file=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eff.org%2Ffiles%2F2017%2F03%2F08%2Fborder-guide.pdf