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The Champion

March 2018 , Page 40 

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Riling Up the Border Search Doctrine: Litigating Searches of Digital Content at Our Ports of Entry

By Aisha J. Dennis

On June 25, 2014, in Riley v. California,1 the Supreme Court unanimously held that law enforcement must obtain a warrant to search digital information on cellphones that are seized during a lawful arrest. In reaching this conclusion, the Court characterized a cellphone as a “minicomputer” and emphasized the substantial privacy interests that are implicated by a search of digital content.2 Riley signified the Court’s entrance into the digital age. That is — the Supreme Court is unwilling to regard the search of a cellphone in the same manner it has regarded searches of other personal effects, such as a wallet or purse.3 

One might wish that the Riley decision’s logic would be immediately applied to prohibit warrantless searches of digital devices at the border or ports of entry. However, in a post-Riley world, the Department of Homeland Security, which encompasses Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), has continued its practice o

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