When the Supreme Court ruled that the police could search through someone’s car without a warrant if they have a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, I was outraged. If a citizen has a right to privacy, why breach that right? What makes these authorities a higher power than the rights that I and many other Americans have?
Things are worse at our borders.
Imagine going on a road trip out of the country. When your vacation ends, you go back to the border. Once you reach the border, the officials have every right to search through all your electronic devices and detain you if your password is not given.
According to Business Insider, agents can take your phone and try to unlock it on site, and sometimes go to the extent of sending it to experts to unlock, with the number of searches spiking in 2016. All of this kind of sounds like the movie “1984” to me.
Now, in a way, the Supreme Court ruling and the Customs procedures coincide, but the two situations are also very different. According to the LA Times, the reason why the Supreme Court even had to place a ruling for the police was because of the Utah v Strieff case. An officer of Salt Lake City illegally stopped a resident after he left a home where suspected drug sales were occurring.
The police cannot arrest someone unless the reasoning behind the arrest was logical and according to the law.
Customs agents are a completely different story. They could arrest someone, possibly for an indefinite period, for not giving a password. You read that statement correctly. You could get arrested, and then deported for not saying a word. That can definitely leave people wondering if that is fair or not.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency cracked down hard when the events of 9/11 had passed. Massive expansion of authoritative power spread for this agency, so that any criminal activity would be minimized, keeping a watchful eye against potential terrorists that could have gone throughout the country. However, even though there was good intent behind the agency’s purpose, the view and goal of the agency started to distort.
Although the responsibility and duty that is given to an officer of the law is a heavy burden, no force should have the kind of power only a dictatorship would conceive. I believe that Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky have the right idea. According to CNET, these two senators introduced a bill that would require Customs and Border Protection to have a warrant based on a legal standard called probable cause.
In my opinion, the public has to realize that they cannot have security and privacy. It is either going to be one or the other. The whole country needs to decide which one they want and which one it needs.