According to Sharon Nelson’s terrific Ride the Lightning blog (4th Circuit Says Border Search of Phones Requires Individualized Suspicion (But Not a Warrant)), on May 9th, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in US v. Kolsuz, ruling that in light of the immense privacy concerns, forensic searches of electronic devices seized at the border must be justified by individualized suspicion, or some reason to believe that a particular traveler had committed a crime. But not a warrant.
The appeals court said border patrol officers had reasonable suspicion to conduct a forensic search of Hamza Kolsuz’s cellphone, and they were entitled to rely on that standard based on case law that suggested it was, at most, all that was required. The officers had seized Kolsuz’s phone after they found firearms parts that required an export license in his checked luggage. It was the third time weapons parts were found in his luggage. That certainly seems like reasonable suspicion to me.