Several United States citizens traveling abroad have reported that, in order to re-enter the U.S. (their home country), they have been required to surrender the passwords to their cellphone devices and social media accounts.
U.S. Customs and Border Protections officers have detained several American citizens returning home for several hours. They also confiscated their cellphones and demanded the passwords to their devices and social media profiles.
A special report by NBC News discovered at least 25 cases of this happening, mainly to Muslim-American citizens, many of whom were born in the United States. That same report has shown from 2015 to 2016 that instances of searches of cellular phone devices has jumped by around 400 percent.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has condemned the searches as putting at risk “the security and liberty of the American people.”
“Law-abiding Americans are being caught up in this digital dragnet,” he added.
The American Civil Liberties Union has similarly spoken out against the invasion of privacy. This new practice violates the “privacy rights of not only thousands of affected visa applicants and refugees, but also all of the Americans they’re in touch with through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites,” wrote ACLU Staff Attorney Esha Bhandari in a recent blog post on the organization’s website.
Chris Walker has been writing about political issues for the past decade, including for sites such as Elite Daily, AMERICAblog, and Mic. You can follow him on Twitter @thatchriswalker.