A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Israel AG: border guards can access e-mail accounts

Israel's Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein confirmed Wednesday that security personnel can ask visitors to the country to open their e-mail accounts if they are perceived as suspicious. The attorney general's approval [Al Arabiya report] comes in response to an inquiry by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) [advocacy website] which has criticized [report] such security measures. Under the law, if entrants refuse to allow their e-mails to be checked, they can be denied admission to the country. The examination of e-mail accounts must be carried out in the presence of the individual. The attorney general justified these checks due to the increasing involvement of foreigners in militant activity.

In the US, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled in February that Homeland Security's border agents must demonstrate reasonable suspicion [JURIST report] of wrongdoing before conducting forensic analysis of laptop computers and electronic devices. "Laptop computers, iPads and the like are simultaneously offices and personal diaries. They contain the most intimate details of our lives," wrote Judge M Margaret McKeown. "A person's digital life ought not be hijacked simply by crossing a border." Border searches are an exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant preference, but this holding serves to narrow the exception. In 2010 the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the government's ability to search electronic devices without reasonable suspicion [JURIST report]. In 2009 Barry Steinhard, Senior Advisor of Privacy International, discussed why reasonable suspicion should be required [JURIST comment] for laptop searches. Also in 2009, John Wesley Hall, Jr., Former President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, discussed why reasonable suspicion should be involved [JURIST comment] in border inspections of laptops. Also that year the Department of Homeland Security announced new restrictions on controversial searches of laptops [JURIST report].

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.