Creating havoc, the statement proclaimed by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has tensed privacy advocates. Causing the spark of a hunch, turmoil, and condemnation, his words signaled the presumption that U.S. border agents could soon be curious visitors, “What sites do you visit? Oh, and give us your passwords.”
People entering the US from seven Middle Eastern Countries are advised to be inquired about their websites, passwords, and social media accounts by the Trump administration. Financial information and phone contacts are also on the inquiry list.
After this alleged step, the question arises: Is this a legal measure taken? Does it have a chance to be imposed shortly? And what could you do to make yourself safe?
A legal search or not
National border demanding one’s password for their social media accounts seems unjustified and illegal as the fourth amendment inhibits the US government from carrying out “unreasonable searches and seizures.” However, this law appears unimplemented as immigration agent has expanded dominance at the border and up to 100 miles from it.
But about digital information, the issue becomes convoluted. A search of an online account could be considered to happen where the data is stored and not at the border said Orrin Kerr talking to The Atlantic.
Making the issue more obscure, the proceeding hasn’t been initiated, causing it to be preserved from legal allegations. People are already asked about their social media handles at the border by The Department of Homeland Security. It seems a bit controversial in itself rather than being optional.
In all these matters, the legal value of this issue is under question, specifically when the fourth amendment has been halted at the border.
Will it be operational?
However, at many borders, the passwords are being asked from the people, but still, it’s a tricky question to be answered. This asking for personal information is known for many borders with strict security rules. The quest about one’s stuff has already been started in many other parts.
Recent restrictions and attempted travel bans on most Muslim countries show the endeavor of the present government to apply these practices. Whereas queries regarding password inquiry and will the legality of this issue remains doubtful is still unknown.
So if you are planning to visit the U.S., you should be prepared cause it’s likely that you will be inquired about your stuff.
What can you do?
Many professionals are trying to figure out the way through, but the solution is unclear due to which strategy would work out and which would trap you.
Keeping in mind the probability of failure of getting to the country, your endeavor towards visiting the U.S. will decide how far you would go. Also, the level of privacy you want plays a vital part.
Here are some tactics to secure your privacy to help you succeed in visiting the country. The ones which are less likely to work and are easy to carry out are at the start of the list. However, the ones discussed later are harder to try with the preceding list but are more likely to work.
NOTE: Do use your mind for the laws and remain alert about the rules and regulations of the country you are traveling. The laws around the world differ from each other.
Delete Your Social Media and Email Apps
This seems easy, but it only works out if you don’t have mobile data on your phone. Mobile data may enable you to re-download the app and sign in again.
On the other hand, the airport WiFi may not trap your mobile phone, and asking you to sign in through your mobile phone will prevent border agents from being inquisitive.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Proving your identity in two ways would help if you sign out from your accounts. Also, you should not keep any other device with you so that an agent cannot force you to sign in with the 2FA code.
The query of how to get access back is simple to solve. You could ask someone you trust to tell you the 2FA code, or you can mail any device that could unlock your account to your living place.
Use a Burner Device
Burners could help protect your privacy. Your data in your primary phone is at high risk if it’s stolen or lost. While traveling, you should carry a cheap burner that does not have access to your accounts; at the border, it wouldn’t have access to them. Also, if you want your device back, you can mail it yourself or buy a new one after entering the country.
These choices could hurt but would help you secure your privacy and not give your private stuff to anyone.
For Social Accounts, use a Different Email Account
A border agent could access your account, even if it’s two-factor authentication by resetting your password. But if you have a second email account not synced to your mobile, you could prevent agents from accessing your account.
If a border agent looking into your primary email account is not annoying, this technique will help. This will keep them restricted from inquiring about your social accounts too. But ensure your mobile doesn’t have hints of that secondary account.
Change From Fingerprints to Passcode
In the U.S., forcing an individual to enter his mobile code is illegal, at least for now. But you could be compelled to unlock your phone using fingerprints. So, if you use the fingerprint technique to unlock your phone, you must change it to the passcode.
Deny the demand
If you think it to be a frail idea, you are right. In the U.S., it is legal but doesn’t assure success. There is a probability that you would be stopped from entering the country. It doesn’t alter this decision whether you have particular citizenship, business in the country, or nationality of a specific country.
This is the absolute last solution and is not to use when you are just looking for your demands and rights.
Few more suggestions
You should keep certain things under consideration. The stuff you ship internationally will also likely be searched without explicit notification. Send your packages through international delivery is not a bad option if you don’t want them to be with you at the border.
But what must be clear is that all the above information contains no legal advice. Also, it is possible that this info could become irrelevant and illegal at a particular time as U.S. laws are regularly changing.
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About the Author
Zehra Ali is a Tech Reporter and Journalist. She has done her Masters in Mass Communication. Topics related to cybersecurity, IoT, AI, Big Data and other privacy matters are extensively covered by her on various platforms. You can follow her on twitter.More from Zehra Ali
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