58% Increase In Electronic Device Searches On International Air Passengers In U.S.

Above Photo: US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers check a passenger’s luggage and documents. CBP

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) searched approximately 4,600 electronic devices, or 0.008%, of approximately 58 million incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of the US government’s FY 2017 (October 2016-March 2017), according to CBP statistics released April 11.

The figure represents a 57.6% increase in the number of electronic devices searched during the six-month period compared to approximately 2,900 devices searched on incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of FY 2016.

Compared to two years ago, the number of electronic devices searched has more than tripled. CBP said its increase of electronic device searches corresponds to how the agency “adjusted its actions to align with current threat information.”

“Electronic device searches are integral in some cases to determining an individual’s intentions upon entering the US,” CBP deputy executive assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations, John Wagner said. CBP said its searches have resulted in evidence helpful in combating terrorist activity, child pornography, export control violations, intellectual property rights violations and visa fraud.

“No court has concluded that the border search of electronic devices requires a warrant and CBP’s use of this authority has been repeatedly upheld,” CBP said. “This includes a review by the [US] Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals, which approved the search of electronic devices encountered at the border.”

On a typical day, CBP processes 326,723 incoming international air passengers and crew, or 30.6% of the total 1.07 million passengers and pedestrians the agency processes (53,786 are passengers and crew arriving by boat, or 5%; and 688,757 are incoming land travelers, or 64.4%).

On March 21, the US banned large electronic devices in carry-on baggage originating at 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa, citing concerns about terrorists’ continued interest in targeting commercial aviation. CPB searched approximately 800 electronic devices from all 10.4 million incoming international air passengers in March, according to its estimates, up 66% from a year earlier.