John Kelly U.S homeland security secretary confirmed that the U.S border agents will soon ask the visitors to the sites that they visit and their passwords which will definitely make the privacy supporters troubled. This activity has generated a storm of criticism and uncertainty.
Kelly also added that the Trump government has prepared a list that will demand websites, passwords and social media accounts from the people who visit U.S. from the 7 Middle Eastern countries. Financial data and contacts on phone may also be demanded.
This issue is becoming a problematic one. Is this really going to happen? What can you do if this happens? Whether this kind of search is legal or not? and most importantly how to protect your data at US border?
A doubtful official search
The U.S. Government according to the Fourth Amendment cannot conduct unfair searches on people. And asking for someone’s social account password is totally unjust. However, it seems that this embargo is not being followed at least not at the national border. Not only this, the border agents have absolute power at the border and 100 miles far from the border.
Nevertheless, the topic is complex due to the advanced digital information technology. Since Orrin Kerr pointed out that this type of search of social accounts should take place where the information is stored and not at the national border.
However, the legal implementation of this practice has not initiated yet which is creating confusion about its legality. The point to consider here is that the department of homeland security already ask people for their social accounts information at the border but its legitimacy is also not confirm.
In view of the fact that the Fourth Amendment has been suspended on the national border, the search for homeland security is quite questionable.
Will this practice start?
This answer to this question is unknown. Nobody is familiar with its installment. On the other hand, there is some information that some border agents have started inquiring the passwords. The countries known for strict border security have already started this and the war for getting access to personal information of immigrants has started.
Due to the Muslim travel ban in U.S, it seems that the government will try to put practice soon. The mystery of the legitimacy of this is unknown but still, there is a chance that the visitors would be asked for the personal information, in case you are planning to visit U.S, you must be mentally prepared for this.
What should you do?
It is very important for you to know that how to protect your privacy at the border. But as the validity of this model is not confirm so it’s difficult to guess that what tactics may work and what will deprive you of the entry. How will you get the entry in U.S depends on how far you are willing to go and what kind of privacy protection you need. But remember that there is a chance of being denied to enter the country.
In the below text you’ll be able to find strategies from least to most daring. The starting ones are easy to follow but will they work or not hasn’t proved. While the ideas in the later text will work but they need major effort and there is a risk of being denied entry.
Remove your social networking and email apps:
This is easy but it will likely work if you do not have mobile data on your device. In case, you have mobile data then you’ll be asked to again download the apps and then sign in. and if you don’t do this then you’ll be asked to sign in through the airport Wi-Fi via your device browser which will put off the agent from being too curious.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication stops hackers from breaching the account passwords. If the 2FA is enabled and you’re trying to access your account from the unrecognized device then it will send you a verification code. While crossing the US border you need to set up the Two-factor authentication verification on your accounts for that you need to enter your valid phone number on which you will receive a six-digit code, when you complete this process the 2FA gets enable automatically. Make sure you don’t carry any device with you. That will make difficult for the border agent to ask you to sign into your account with 2FA code.
Now once you have crossed the borders, you’ll need someone to tell you the 2FA code or send you the devices at the place you are staying because that will help you to unlock your accounts. This tactic will definitely work.
Utilize a burner device:
A burner device helps you to protect your privacy. And if you are traveling internationally then it is a device that you should have. If your mobile phone gets stolen then there is a risk of sensitive data being leaked. Having a cheap burner with you that cannot access your social media accounts means that you won’t be able to access them at bordered as well. You can use your actual device or buy a new one after crossing the border.
Both of the options are tough but they surely protect your privacy without letting your communications bothered.
Use an alternative Email for social media accounts:
Having a second Email that is not synced to your device would help you to get away with the border agent from accessing your accounts. It will work if you have no problem with the border agent looking into your primary account. Though, ensure that there is not any trace of the secondary Email on your cell phone.
Use Passcode instead of Fingerprints:
Start using Passcode instead of Fingerprint. In the United States you can be officially compelled to unlock your device with your Fingerprint but if your phone is locked with Passcode then you won’t be compelled to type your code. You can logically say no if you are asked to enter Passcode.
Saying No is to the legal demand of the border agents isn’t a good idea and there is a chance of denied entry. That would apply no matter where are you coming from, whose citizen you are and what business you do in the country. This is the last option but not the one to use if you are standing for your rights.
Some More Notes
There is some stuff that you have to keep in mind. Most importantly, shipping your devices internationally has no prove that it will be immune to search. International mail is a good choice if you don’t want to get checked at the borders but things sent across the borders are subject to inspection.
Remember to not to make a big deal out of the situation if you are asked for the passwords at the border. The more you fall back on things you can’t do rather than things you won’t do, the more improbable you will be to bother the border agent.
You must know that the rules and regulations keep changing in the United States. This article might help you to cross the border without your accounts details being checked. It’s a perfect advice for protecting your privacy and maintaining the security of your personal information. Yet, don’t forget that any wrong step can lead to denied entry in the United States.