After two unanswered requests for information about electronic device searches in December and January, the American Civil Liberties Union chapter in San Francisco is suing the Transportation Security Administration to find out its procedures and policies when searching and scanning electronic devices carried on domestic flights.
TSA denies that its airport security agents scan or review passengers on domestic flights data on electronic devices.
Houston lawyer, Pierre Grosdidier (grow-dee-dee-aye) cited the famous Supreme Court case Riley v. California that found the police cannot a person’s personal phone or computer without a warrant. He said if the TSA is doing that, it’s probably illegal.
“It sounds like an invasion of privacy. The Constitution protects people’s privacy. And, this would possibly breach those protections,” said Grosdidier.
You can say no, but expect to be delayed.
“Make sure they’re turned off when you enter the TSA lines. And, if you see that they’re searching them, ask them why, challenge them. Record the information—the person’s name, the time, the circumstances. And, then if you want to act on it, contact your local ACLU or your own attorney,” said Grosdidier.
He said saying no to a search probably isn’t an option if you’re flying internationally because customs has a right to search personal effects across the border. They also have the right to demand your password to search those devices.
Since last year, the TSA requires passengers to put digital devices—larger than a cellphone—in separate bins before being X-rayed, looking for explosives.
ACLU’s lawsuit includes:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have increased the number of scans of data on electronic devices carried by travelers on international flights from 5,000 in 2015 to 30,000 in 2017.
border agents have examined and copied information on electronic devices carried by such travelers.
seeking information on the TSA's search policies for domestic travelers.