Court rules against warrantless searches of phones, laptops

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 file photo, travelers check their phones at Indianapolis International Airport in Indianapolis. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, a federal court in Boston ruled that warrantless U.S. government searches of the phones and laptops of international travelers at airports and other U.S. ports of entry violate the Fourth Amendment. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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BOSTON (AP) — A federal court in Boston has ruled that warrantless U.S. government searches of the phones and laptops of international travelers at airports and other U.S. ports of entry violate the Fourth Amendment.

Tuesday's ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of 11 travelers whose smartphones and laptops were searched without individualized suspicion at U.S. ports of entry.

ACLU attorney Esha Bhandari said the ruling strengthens Fourth Amendment protections of international travelers who enter the United States every year.

The ACLU describes the searches as "fishing expeditions." They say border officers must now demonstrate individualized suspicion of contraband before they can search a traveler's device.

The government has vigorously defended the searches as a critical tool to protect America.

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