London – CAGE welcomes the legal challenge launched in the United States by the American Civil Liberties Union, against warrantless searches and confiscation of digital devices by US border police.

The ACLU is acting on behalf of 10 plaintiffs, and arguing that warrantless searches of digital devices violate US Fourth Amendment rights. This has been previously recognised in a 2014 Supreme Court case where the court ruled that police must get a warrant based on probable cause, prior to searching phones.  

The challenge comes in parallel to CAGE’s legal action against Britain’s Schedule 7 law, which grants UK police similar powers at borders, even when the individual is under no suspicion of a committing a crime.

Anti-torture advocate and director of CAGE Muhammad Rabbani will appear in Westminster Magistrate’s Court on 25th September 2017 to deny charges against him.

Both cases highlight the need for an urgent debate on the powers granted to state officials that threaten the privacy of us all, but particularly those who hold confidential information.

Mr Rabbani refused to divulge the passwords to his devices since the information he carried had been entrusted to him by a victim of torture. He complied with the Schedule 7 search up to the point where police requested his passwords, when he declined and cited confidentiality.

Ibrahim Mohamoud, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

“Warrantless and suspicionless searches and demands for passwords at US and UK borders have increased exponentially over the last year. There appears to be a global trend in increasingly intrusive border policies being led by the US and UK authorities. This has huge implications for all of our privacy, but especially for lawyers, doctors, journalists and human rights advocates who have clients that entrust confidential information to them.”

“Our passwords are the key to our personal and professional lives. Threatening us with arrest should we not divulge them is akin to a digital strip search, which yields more information than a home search. To subject ordinary citizens to this when there is no suspicion of any crime is a violation of due process.”

“CAGE calls for privacy advocates, journalists, human rights activists and all those concerned with the increasing surveillance state to support Rabbani by attending court at 12pm on Monday 25th September. The outcome of this case has implications for all of us.”


CC image courtesy of Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)