A group of US Senators [official site] on Tuesday introduced [press release] a bipartisan bill [official summary, PDF] to require government agents to get a warrant when searching electronic devices of US citizens at the border. The Protecting Data at the Border Act [text, PDF] seeks to allow citizens to deny a request of border agents to search their electronic devices without being denied entry or exit at the border except for in emergency situations. The bill requires either a warrant or probable cause to search or seize a device.
A Governmental entity may not seize any electronic equipment belonging to or in the possession of a United States person at the border unless there is probable cause to believe that the electronic equipment contains information that is relevant to an allegation that the United States person has committed a felony.
Furthermore the bill requires data collection of the number of times agents access digital data, request access to data, or attempt so access data of citizens as well as create a record of the number of non-citizens for the same. The Senate must approve the measure before it moves to the House[official site].
The bill comes on the heels of recent issues impacting digital data and privacy. The US Congress voted [JURIST report] last week to repeal Internet privacy regulations, preventing the Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services rule from entering into force. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy , Joseph Cannataci, presented a report [JURIST report] to the Human Rights Council in early March condemning modern-day surveillance legislation and expressing grave concerns regarding the threat to privacy rights in the digital age. Facebook settled [JURIST report] a class-action lawsuit levied against aslo in March for its prior practice of scanning private messages to aid in ads.