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Judge rules against unlimited border control laptop and phone searches

A federal judge in Boston ruled that U.S. Customs and Border Control officers do not have unlimited authority to search computers and other electronic devices belonging to travelers entering the country. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of 11 travelers whose devices were searched without probable cause at U.S. border checkpoints.

The practice of searching travelers’ electronic devices upon arrival into the U.S. has grown steadily in recent years. In 2018 alone, reports indicate that 33,000 such searches were conducted. The U.S. government defended these searches, saying they are necessary to protect the public and have been instrumental in a variety of criminal and consumer protection investigations.

In the recent ruling the judge wrote, “Agents must demonstrate suspicion that a particular arriving traveler’s digital devices contain contraband before conducting a search that would tap into troves of personal photos and data including legal documents and social-media postings.”

Travelers are always encouraged to take proactive steps to protect sensitive data and personal information contained on electronic devices when traveling abroad. If your devices contain large amounts of confidential information, consider leaving them behind or put files you won’t need on secure storage solutions and remove them from your device. Strong passwords including two-factor authentication are recommended for the devices that will be traveling with you. Encrypt your hard drive and remember to turn your devices off before entering customs.


Airlines push back re-launch of Boeing Max 737s to March 2020

Despite statements from Boeing saying it expects the FAA to re-approve the 737 Max aircraft for commercial service in early January, airlines including American, Southwest, and United have all pushed back their re-launch dates for the troubled aircraft to early March 2020. These airlines have again modified their schedules, canceling thousands of flights. Airlines are contacting customers holding tickets on affected flights.

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