November 30, 2017

Warrantless border searches

The ABA Criminal Justice Section has created a task force to address the emerging problem of warrantless searches of laptop computers, cell phones and other digital devices of lawyers and other travelers at the U.S. border. Because these searches by U.S. border officers are undermining the attorney-client privilege and creating other ethical and business issues for lawyers who travel internationally, the task force plans to develop guidelines to protect the legal and business interests of lawyers traveling abroad. Last May, the ABA sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security asking it to modify its border search policies to clarify that when a lawyer crosses the border with an electronic device containing privileged or confidential documents, those documents cannot be read, duplicated, seized or shared unless the officer first obtains a subpoena based on reasonable suspicion or a warrant supported by probable cause.