DHS may be able to see your phone conversations and text messages if you are at a U.S. port of entry or under investigation. DHS also has access to your social media information. They can view your Facebook profile, page likes, friends list, and even watch your tweets.
If you are arrested or detained by federal immigration officers, they may search your phone without a warrant. But before they do, they need to tell you that you have the right to refuse a search. Also, they must limit their search to areas where it would be reasonable to expect to find evidence of wrongdoing. In other words, searching through all your personal emails, texts, and photos is illegal unless there is reason to believe you might be involved in crime.
It is best practice to delete data from smartphones before traveling abroad to prevent immigration officials from gaining access to private conversations and photographs. However, this cannot protect you from being deported if you commit a criminal offense while overseas.
Even if you are a US citizen, federal authorities have the authority to inspect your phone at the US border. Customs officials have the legal authority to inspect passengers' personal gadgets without a warrant, whether they are tourists or citizens of the United States. The government can also require you to unlock your device in order to read its contents.
In 2014, the Department of Homeland Security began requiring that travelers entering the country from certain countries (including but not limited to China, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Libya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Tunisia) submit their phones for search by customs agents. If you refuse to let them look at your phone, you could be denied entry into the United States. There is no way to prevent these searches; neither DHS nor any other agency has the authority to provide this service to travelers who do not want it done.
The number of devices that have been searched since the program started is not public information, so it's hard to say how many people's devices have been inspected. What is known is that not every traveler who enters the United States will have their device searched. Officials from several countries have expressed concerns about the policy, including Brazil, Canada, Germany, and Australia. A few cases have made it to court, with judges ruling that forcing travelers to give up their phones violates their rights under the Fourth Amendment.
You are not authorized by federal law to see, read, or listen to any communication on someone else's phone or electronic device. So, what happens if a person feels their spouse is cheating on them? It's very common for people to ask themselves this question. The short answer is that it depends on how far you go with this activity. Reading an entire text message or email can be considered copyright infringement, as can listening to a voicemail message.
In most cases, reading or listening to another person's email or text messages is not illegal. However, if you go beyond simply reading the messages and start copying them or downloading them to your computer, that is an offense under state and federal laws. Also, if you give other people reason to believe that you have read or heard their messages, that is also a crime. For example, if someone sends you a message stating "This is a warning to not read my texts," then you have been given reason to believe that you are not allowed to read their messages, so reading their messages would be criminal behavior.
It is important to note that just because something is written in an email or text message does not mean it is legal to do so. With that being said, reading others' messages is generally not illegal under most circumstances.
A US appeals court has decided that Customs and Border Protection officials can undertake extensive searches of phones and laptop computers, overriding a previous legal triumph for civil rights organizations. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on December 16, 2017 that CBP officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they searched Aldana Rosado's cell phone and laptop during a 2011 border stop.
Specifically, the court held that CBP agents were permitted to search an individual's electronic devices without first obtaining a warrant because of the "border search exception" to the Fourth Amendment's requirement of probable cause before conducting a search. The court noted that CBP agents had reasonable suspicion to search Rosado's electronics based on their knowledge of drug trafficking through Mexico and Canada as well as their observation of strange wires connecting her battery to the outlet during a prior search of her car.
This is not the first time that the 2nd Circuit has upheld border searches. In 1992, the court overturned a ruling by then-District Judge Lawrence Kahn that customs officials could not search individuals crossing into the United States from Canada. The court concluded that border searches are constitutional no matter where within the country an individual is stopped or detained.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a federal agency that oversees trade between the United States and its neighboring countries.
According to the ECPA, text messages are handled the same as emails. In other words, without a search warrant, cops may easily access your phone records and earlier text messages. Investigators will, however, need a judge's approval for phone conversations and text messages exchanged within the past six months. If you're arrested for murder, texting back and forth with an acquaintance who can help explain your actions after the fact isn't going to help you much.
In general, anything sent or received via text message is considered public information. While it is true that officers need a court order to tap your phone line, they do not need a warrant to view its contents. With that in mind, criminals should never text anything confidential (like account numbers) unless they want others reading about it in the next day's newspaper.
Texts are easy to delete from smartphones so be careful what you say!
Police can also obtain cell site location data. This information is provided by wireless carriers when you make or receive a call or send or receive a text message. Cell site location data shows where you were at the time of the call or text, even if you weren't making or receiving calls or texts. Cell site location data does not reveal your actual name or address, but it does provide an accurate map location and time stamp for when the call was made or text was sent.
Government operatives can accurately locate phones and determine the identities of all phones in a specific region using these signals.... The only way to truly protect privacy while communicating via cellular phone is not to use one.