Courts Step in to Protect Constitutional Rights at the Border

Twice this week courts have pushed back against suspicionless, warrantless searches of digital devices at the border, in Alassad v. Neilsen in the First Circuit and United States v. Kolsuz in the Fourth Circuit. In both cases plaintiffs argued that warrantless searches of their digital devices at the border violated their Fourth Amendment rights. Alassad survived a motion to dismiss and the the federal appellate court in Kolsuz determined that under the Fourth Amendment, U.S. border authorities cannot search travelers’ cell phones and other electronic devices without individualized suspicion of wrongdoing. Alassad v. Neilsen CDT filed an amicus brief in Alassad, arguing that suspicionless, warrantless border searches of electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones violate the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution. Our brief highlighted that “digital is different,” or that the sheer volume and type of information found on a digital device dwarfs…

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