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  • Specializing in EB-5 Visas

    for permanent U.S. residency for foreign investors

CBP Recognizes Minor Limits to Border Search Powers of Digital Devices

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can search information contained in digital devices, but these searches only apply to “information that is physically resident on the device during a CBP inspection”. According to a 06/20/2017 statement by a senior CBP administrator, they do not include “information that is solely located on remote servers”. A copy of the CBP statement is found here.


CBP issued this clarification in response to a letter of inquiry from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) dated February 20, 2017, in which Senator Wyden raised questions concerning the border searches of personal electronic devices.

CBP’s recent statements did not provide further details or guidance for networked digital devices, such as whether the devices would be isolated from cellular or internet access during the inspection. At the same time, CBP reaffirms its authority to require travelers to provide access to and inspect digital devices, including the ability to require disclosure of passwords or unlocking the devices. If the CBP officer is unable to make a determination during the border inspection, they may detain the item for additional examination without the consent of the owner. CBP did confirm that U.S. citizens would not be prevented from re-entering the U.S. purely due to additional examination or detention of their property.

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