US senator reveals how US Customs has amassed data from Americans’ devices

Every year, thousands of Americans have their phones and other devices searched at the border before they travel abroad. Now, a US senator has revealed that when it searches these devices, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) downloads their contents — which can include text messages, pictures, and other personal information — into a massive database where it’s all held for 15 years. That database is accessible to thousands of Department of Homeland Security employees.

In a letter to CBP, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, urged the agency “to focus on suspected criminals and security threats, rather than allowing indiscriminate rifling through Americans’ private records without suspicion of a crime.”

Wyden said that his office learned of “egregious” CBP practices during agency briefings. The agency, he said, is “pressuring travelers to unlock their electronic devices without adequately informing them of their rights.” After that, content is downloaded to a central database that’s accessible to roughly 2,700 DHS employees for basically any reason.

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Source: ZDNet