U.S. Border Agents Take, Store And Search Americans’ Emails And Photos At “Massive Scale”

The power of U.S. Customers and Border Protection is almost unlimited at the borders – or, surprising to many Americans, within 100 miles of a border where two-thirds of the U.S. population lives.

The federal government maintains they can search your devices and call it a ‘border search’ – no fourth amendment protections – anywhere within that zone. However in 9 states there has to be at least reasonable suspicion (which is a low bar to clear).

And did you know that they claim the authority to collect DNA samples of travelers they detain entering the country, even U.S. citizens, and put the samples into a central database? Of course they’ve mistakenly detained Americans entitled to enter the U.S.

So it really didn’t surprise me two years ago when they revealed plans to build a central database for all of the emails they collect from traveler devices. And readers of this blog, then, shouldn’t be surprised by the news that they’ve actually done it.

  • They’re adding “contacts, call logs, messages and photos” from the devices of tens of thousands of people per year and “much of which is captured from people not suspected of any crime.”
  • “2,700 CBP officers [can] access it without a warrant” according the office of Senator Ron Wyden, while the agency clarifies it’s actually 3,000 officers.

The agency says trust us, searches of the database are “exercised judiciously, responsibly, and consistent with the public trust.” The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, though, says agents don’t properly document their searches so there’s no way to know whether this is true.

CBP officials declined, however, to answer questions about how many Americans’ phone records are in the database, how many searches have been run or how long the practice has gone on, saying it has made no additional statistics available “due to law enforcement sensitivities and national security implications.”

…CBP officials said their default configuration for some of the searches had been to download and retain all contact lists, call logs and messages, a Wyden aide said. ..CBP conducted roughly 37,000 searches of travelers’ devices in the 12 months ending in October 2021, according to agency data

There’s no suggestion that any terrorist plot has ever been foiled by this program, and the agency is quick to grasp at straws to make that claim whenever they possibly can.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. David Miller, you say that I have fallen for the Democrat lies. I knew that I was a conservative Republican when I was 12 years old. I belong to one of the most conservative Christian organizations in the country. My family was part of the first English permanent settlement in America (before the Mayflower). My 8th-great-grandfather was the first governor of Virginia. My direct ancestors served in most wars throughout all of American history. I am second cousins, seven generations removed, with George Washington. I was part of the Republican Party structure. I have had intimate dinners with a number of Republican presidential candidates.

    What’s your background?

    As for my hypothetical question, you didn’t answer it. I asked “what if?” The response you provided was that of an apologist and a member of a cult of personality. While you assert that Mr. Trump would never do such a thing, the fact is that he has. Much to the consternation of the Government of Israel, roughly four years ago, Mr. Trump shared intelligence data on Israel with Mr. Putin and (potentially) the Saudi government. If you doubt this and say it is fake news, contact the Government of Israel and hear it from the horse’s mouth.

    When you tell a big enough lie enough times, people begin to believe it. Sieg heil, baby!

    Perhaps the better question to be asked is: What would Jesus do? Let the answer to that question be your guide.

  2. @ David Miller

    The point being made is that it ain’t about being a liberal to see through the orange muppet’s fakery.

    Educate yourself, fella, replay and visit John McCain’s concession speech:


    The orange muppet scored an own goal in Arizona by denigrating McCain’s war record. That’s the level of self-serving stupidity of the t*RUMP – trashing his own Republicans only to lose the state in the election.

  3. @ David Miller

    To quote your faked reference:

    “Before the China Virus invaded our shores…”

    now add the facts…the US economy had enjoyed 10 years of regrowth following the GFC: this including a downward trend in unemployment….such was principally during the Obama administration…the orange lying twat is claiming the economic success story of the Democratic government to be of his doing…but he’s wrong…and you are so dumb you fall for it…even though you can access the economic data at its source rather than relying on a faked up press release!

    Just another very dumb t*RUMPette !!!

    …now add the orange boofhead as puketus – unemployment jumps from 3.67 to 8.05%…ooops….one million Americans die from COVID…a divided nation….democracy challenged by the one person who is supposed to be its champion…an utter failure in administration and leadership…which is why it all has to be blamed on China, right?! Drink the bleach.

    Do the research, kid, if you want facts…find the facts at their original source…unedited, unabridged, altered or otherwise twisted…unsullied by the orange muppet’s PR stooges…save the world from dumb Americans with stupid red baseball caps….

  4. @ Lee

    Thanks for sharing – a fascinating background. It’s reassuring to come across further examples of Replican-leaning folk who see through through the orange bouffant cloud of BS.

    “As for my hypothetical question, you didn’t answer it. I asked “what if?” The response you provided was that of an apologist and a member of a cult of personality.”

    Unfortunately, you (and others supporting the GOP) need to ask a similar question – as the GOP rusts itself onto the t*RUMP and the attendant odious brand of politics (division, dog whistle racism, sociopathy, attacks on individuals, shit stirring hatred and fear, the usual right wing trashy playbook), just how far can the GOP go before in its adoption of t*RUMpistics before you yourself say, hey I can’t support the GOP any more?!

    It seems from the outside looking in that too many GOPuppies are themselves apologists and all too ready to embrace the personality cult and detritus that inevitably flows in its wake.

    Whereto for the GOP “moderates”??? Will and how will you be counted???

  5. platy – it is obvious with every one of your posts that you are an idiot. Save your lying stupidity for the other mindless, brainwashed morons who think as you do. You are an insult to all who have functioning brains. Apparently the list I provided ( with the website) has unnerved you – too bad. — For your reading pleasure –https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/trump-administration-accomplishments/

  6. @ Jack the Lad

    “Many good thoughts but NAFTA was negotiated by Bush I and then signed by . . . Bill Clinton.”

    Now ask questions about the topic of the article – mass, surveillance, increases in power off state over the individual were substantially set in place by right wing governments in countries such as the US, UK and Australia.

    It is deliciously ironic that the right wing, which claims (erroneously) to be the champion of individual freedoms is the side of politics, which undermined those freedoms when it came to surveillance and increase in policing powers.

    Of course, subsequent administrations have been culpable by not removing such powers.

    Such powers should be of concern to all of individuals, irregardless of political persuasion.

    It is sad the political debate has shifted entirely away from policy and common concern and shared challenges.

  7. @ David Miller

    You are clearly obsessed with your doctored document from your supreme leader – keep reading your trumpette’s bible – print it out and put in under your pillow – the more times you read it, the more true it will become for you. The more you chant it’s content, the closer you’ll feel to your sovereign dRUMPster…revel in your fake idol, praise him, genuflect and go forth to spread the bad word…seek out and destroy the non believers…goose step to the brainwashing beat…

    …just remember:

    “the only stable emotion is hate”; and

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

    Now keep wearing the silly twat hat so we know you’re one of those dumb Americans…the tRUMPfgruppe…oh, and…”please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.”

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