Today the ACLU Foundation of Northern California (ACLU-NC) filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on behalf of Andreas Gal who, on November 29, 2018, was subjected to interrogation and retaliation by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for questioning the unwarranted search of his electronic devices. The complaint demands an investigation into whether CBP’s interrogation and search of Gal was consistent with the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as a comprehensive review of CBP’s policies to determine if they are consistent with the agency’s obligations under the U.S. Constitution and laws.

Andreas Gal is a successful entrepreneur and technologist who has been an outspoken proponent of online privacy, an opponent of warrantless mass surveillance, and a strong opponent of the current administration’s policies. Upon arrival at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Gal was interrogated by three CBP officers who demanded to search his electronic devices. Gal, who is currently employed by one of the world’s largest tech companies and bound by the company’s non-disclosure agreements, asked to speak to a lawyer before giving CBP officers access to his devices. CBP officers repeatedly told Gal that he had no right to an attorney and threatened him with criminal prosecution.

After an extended interrogation, Gal was allowed to leave with his devices, however, his Global Entry card was taken and he was told his privileges would be revoked because he refused to comply with the search.

“CBP’s baseless detention and intrusive interrogation of Andreas Gal and the attempted search of his devices violated his Fourth Amendment rights,” said William Freeman, ACLU of Northern California Senior Counsel. “Furthermore, CBP’s policies lack protections for First Amendment rights by allowing interrogation and device searches that may be based on a traveler’s political beliefs, activism, nation of origin, or identity.”

“Digital devices contain huge amounts of personal data about our lives and our work,” said Jacob Snow, ACLU of Northern California staff attorney. “Border Patrol agents should not be able to access this data without a search warrant.”

CBP must ensure that its officers comply with the U.S. Constitution. The attempted unconstitutional search of Gal’s devices illustrates that CBP’s policies do not include the requirements necessary to safeguard the constitutional rights of people at the border.

Source: ACLU Foundation of Northern California

MacDailyNews Take: ACLU Foundation of Northern California’s full letter of complaint states, in part:

Andreas Gal is a successful entrepreneur and technologist, currently employed by Apple, Inc. He is the former Chief Executive Officer of a company he founded called Silk Labs and the former Chief Technology Officer of Mozilla Corporation, which makes the popular Firefox web browser and other products. Dr. Gal has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California at Irvine.

Read more in the ACLU Foundation of Northern California’s full letter of complaint here.

Regarding American citizens, as we wrote in March 2017:

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.

Apple’s Silk Labs purchase pushes artificial intelligence to the edge; Apple could give Siri an offline mode – November 21, 2018
Apple acquires artificial intelligence startup Silk Labs – November 21, 2018
U.S. Customs can search phones but not data stored solely in the cloud – July 14, 2017
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