Since President Donald Trump’s executive order ratcheted up the investigation of travelers from most major Muslim countries, or even individuals with Muslim-like sounding names, passengers have experienced what looks like a limited data to a spike where their devices are being ceased by customs officials.
As those intrusions become more aggressive and common in the Trump era, these tips have been put together from advice and experiences pulled together from various brokerage companies like Clearitusa.com to keep your digital privacy while passing through American borders.
Make Passwords Secret
This part is tricky. American citizens can be evicted for refusing to give out their social media passwords and encryption (ACLU’s Wessler). This means that if you stand your ground and refuse giving out your pins or passwords, your devices may be confiscated or you may be arrested. But you will certainly get through with your privacy intact than divulging secrets. Your device can be seized even for months while they try to break into it, but you are going to get home.
However, be cautioned that denying customs agents access can lead to days of uncertain detention in a miserable CBP office. And for the green card and VISA holders, the right to enter the United States is far less clear.
Keep Home Informed
Before going into customs, keep a loved one or a lawyer on alert, and contact them after you get out. If you end up being detained, you will not be able to access your devices, thus not having the opportunity to contact the outside world. And in the worst scenario of long detention, you will need someone advocating for your legal representation or release.
Lock Down Devices
Do not make intrusion easy for customs officials if your device is confiscated. Get your hard drive protected with tools like BitLocker or Apple’s Filevault. And also select a strong passphrase. On your iPhone, set a strong password and do not enable Siri from the lock screen. This can become very easy to do by just get access switched off when locked under the Siri menu in settings. Also, remember to turn off your devices before entering customs. The hard drive encryption tool can only offer full protection when the computer is completely shut down.