In response to Donald Trump’s draconian and far-right practice of encouraging searches of digital devices upon entering the U.S. – including surrendering access to social media accounts and financial data – a bipartisan group of representatives in Congress just introduced a bill to curb the practice.
Per the Wall Street Journal:
Foreigners who want to visit the U.S., even for a short trip, could be forced to disclose contacts on their mobile phones, social-media passwords and financial records, and to answer probing questions about their ideology, according to Trump administration officials conducting a review of vetting procedures.
The administration is also working to implement an idea first raised by Mr. Trump as a presidential candidate last August for an “ideological test” for people coming to the U.S. Such tests have been used before—for instance, to screen out anarchists, or members of the Communist Party.
One of the bill sponsors, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), said “Just because you cross the border doesn’t mean the government has a right to everything on your computer.” The bill’s other sponsors are Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
The Washington Post reported that:
[T]he bill would require border agents to obtain a warrant before searching a U.S. citizen’s electronic devices. It would also require that agents not detain or prevent citizens from entering the country if they refuse to provide passwords or passcodes that might enable law enforcement to unlock and view a device’s contents.
Searches of cell phone have spiked to their highest point ever since Trump has taken office. Whereas 25,000 searches occurred in all of 2016, already 5,000 searches occurred in February alone.
Rep. Wyden put it best:
“Americans’ constitutional rights shouldn’t disappear at the border.”
As Trump continues to show an increasing disregard for Americans’ rights, representatives from both parties in Congress are beginning to realize the irreparable damage that he is causing this country.
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Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.