Are you aware that your digital privacy might be at risk when you arrive at the U.S. border? As a traveler, you must keep in mind that maintaining the data security on your devices is just as significant as protecting yourself against muggers.
After all, domestic and foreign governments might have an interest in your personal data for whatever reason. This isn’t just theoretical. Reports reveal that numerous travelers have been under pressure to provide officers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection their cell phone access at the airport.
Furthermore, some travelers currently face extra privacy risks due to a new directive that separates them from their computing equipment. Legally, citizens aren’t required to share their passwords with the U.S. government or unlock their cell phones.
However, rules may differ depending on where you’re traveling from and to. Fortunately, these invaluable tips reveal how you can protect your digital privacy at the U.S. border.
Disabling Fingerprint Readers
Fingerprint sensors such as those available on numerous Android and Apple smartphones are an ingenious element for unlocking your phone fast. It’s advisable you turn off the feature because law enforcement agencies have used warrants successfully to compel individuals to unlock their phones with a fingerprint in the U.S.
However, because you have a right to remain silent, it would be difficult though not impossible for the federal government to compel you to share your code. Therefore, disabling the fingerprint sensor is usually a safer move when traveling.
VPN or Virtual Private Network services successfully aid in internet privacy and security through inventive and intuitively designed apps that offer immediate encrypted protection. You can protect your privacy and encrypt your internet traffic securely by setting up a private and secure connection.
This thwarts online tracking and other personal data from being stored, tracked, and accessed by border police.
If you don’t require the information throughout your journey, delete it from your cell phone and laptop and other transportable electronic devices before leaving home. You should also delete information used during the journey but no longer required.
In the improbable event that agents ask you to offer a password to your social media or email account, enabling two-step verification will function as an additional safeguard presuming that you left your main cell phone at home.
With this feature turned on, whenever you input your password, you’ll obtain a text message with a one-time code that you should enter before logging in. Since the message comprising the code would be sent to your primary phone at home, an agent wouldn’t be able to access your account even if you provided your password.
Obviously, two-step verification could make it difficult for you to access your accounts if you left your primary phone at home. You could consider leaving your phone with a trustworthy person who can give you the code when you wish to log in.
Nevertheless, it would usually be wiser to keep off your social media accounts when traveling, so you don’t leave any data traces on a device.
Data Retrieval and Storage from the Cloud
If you have to maintain privacy while you’re away from home, store your private information in the cloud and use it as required via an encrypted connection.
While storing your sensitive and personal information in the cloud is a great way of keeping this kind of data off your electronic device, beware that all types of security features have their own risks. Furthermore, agents can request your login information, so they aren’t totally secure.
Log out of Apps
To do this, launch every app and log out of active sessions. Remember to uncheck the option for “remember me” on your apps.
Swap the Hard Drive
Consider swapping your laptop’s hard drive for a clean one. The objective is to restrict the amount of data you take throughout your travels to mitigate the disclosure risk. In the event that you can’t take out the hard drive, consider protecting and encrypting it with a strong password. Again, this generates a hurdle for an agent and this could be enough to prevent a more thorough search.
While these measures are vital in protecting your data, beware that U.S. citizens may face uncomfortable detainment at the border and visitors might be denied entry to the United States if they don’t cooperate fully with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Remember, there aren’t any guarantees about what they’ll do and they might even confiscate your electronic devices for additional examination.