On January 30 – three days after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries – an American scientist employed by NASA was detained at the US border until he relinquished his phone and PIN to border agents. Travellers are also reporting border agents reviewing their Facebook feeds, while the Department of Homeland Security considers requiring social media passwords as a condition of entry.
Intimidating travellers into revealing passwords is a much greater
invasion of privacy than inspecting their belongings for contraband.
Technology pundits have already recommended steps to prevent privacy intrusion at the US border, including leaving your phone at home, encrypting your hard drive and enabling two-factor authentication.
However, these steps only apply to US citizens. Visitors need a totally
different strategy to protect their private information.
What do you do if a border official asks for your phone PIN? Ervins Strauhmanis/Flickr, CC BY-SA