Trump Administration Loses Effort to Halt Phone-Search Lawsuit

A federal judge denied the Trump administration’s request to throw out a lawsuit challenging the right of border agents to seize and search the mobile phones and laptops of U.S. citizens without warrants or a showing of probable cause.

“Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the government’s digital device search policies substantially burden travelers’ First Amendment rights,” U.S. District Judge Denise Casper in Boston wrote in a ruling Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued in September, alleging the searches at airports and land borders of U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants are based on outdated laws that were intended to apply to the contents of suitcases and purses — not the detailed personal data stored on smartphones and laptops. The U.S. had argued that a longstanding federal court precedent recognizes the authority of the border searches.

The case is Alasaad v. Nielsen, D. Mass., No. 17-11730, 5/10/18.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in New York at elarson4@bloomberg.net

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