Legislation introduced by three lawmakers this week aims to create stronger measures to protect the privacy of those who are traveling across borders.
The Travelers’ Privacy Protection Act states would require agents to be able to prove they have reasonable suspicion of illegal activity before they search people’s laptops, smartphones and documents.
Recently, the Department of Homeland Security published its guidance on the matter, raising concerns among many who support civil liberties. Currently, border inspectors do not need to have a reason to inspect and copy a traveler’s electronic and paper documents.
Representative Russ Feingold, who co-wrote the new bill, said that "most Americans would be shocked" if they knew what powers the government had to search and copy their personal emails, documents and photographs.
"Focusing our limited law enforcement resources on law-abiding Americans who present no basis for suspicion does not make us any safer and is a gross violation of privacy," he commented.
The bill would also place limits on the length of time that an electronic device can be separated from its owner.