“If you’re entering or exiting the US anytime soon, take note: border officials can search your devices with or without probable cause, but they can’t touch anything stored solely in the cloud,” Mariella Moon reports for Engadget. “Acting US Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McALeenan has revealed the limit of the division’s power in a response to Senator Ron Wyden’s letter to Homeland Security.”

CBP’s authority to conduct border searches extends to all merchandise entering or departing the United States, including information that is physically resident on an electronic device transported by an international traveler. Therefore, border searches conducted by CBP do not extend to information that is located solely on remote servers. — Acting US Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McALeenan

“McALeenan also clarified that you can refuse to give the password to your phone or computer,” Moon reports. “They have the right to detain your device, though, and you might risk not being able to get into the country if you’re not a citizen.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Regarding American citizens, as we wrote last month:

Until/unless some legal clarification(s)/protection(s) arise, [U.S] travelers concerned about their privacy could extend their Fourth Amendment rights around the world by using a “traveler phone” that only contains what you want it to contain. “Sure, ossifer, here’s my iPhone and Passcode. Have at it!”

Barring that tactic, look to the cloud:

“Since at least the Snowden disclosures, conventional wisdom has been that your data is safest in your immediate physical possession, rather than the cloud, because while general warrants can (apparently) be issued against cloud data, media in one’s possession is immune to anything but an old fashioned physical search,” Ken Kinder writes for Hacker Noon. “But in the case of a border crossing, the cloud actually becomes a safer place, provided your laptop or cell phone doesn’t have access to it. As long as there’s no nexus between your device and the cloud, you aren’t crossing the border with that cloud data, so it’s not subject to search (bold emphasis added- MDN Ed.).”

“Since cloud data is immune from a border search, you can encrypt your data, store it in the cloud, wipe your devices prior to crossing, then restore your data after crossing in relative safety,” Kinder writes. “This is, obviously, an arduous process… Even worse, traveling is when we use our devices most. We entertain ourselves on planes, find amenities at airports, and even change itineraries during travel using those devices. To ameliorate some of the pain, I am creating special ‘travel-only’ Google accounts and user profiles on my devices, which will remain active while I travel.”

Much more in the full article here.

SEE ALSO:
U.S. Immigration spent record amount on phone hacking tech just after President Trump’s travel ban – April 13, 2017
American citizens: U.S. border agents can search your iPhone – March 14, 2017
How to get past customs without surrendering your digital privacy – February 17, 2017