Knight Institute v. DHS
Nate Kitch

Knight Institute v. DHS

A FOIA lawsuit seeking records relating to searches of electronic devices at the U.S. border

On March 27, 2017, the Knight Institute filed a FOIA lawsuit seeking records relating to searches of travelers' electronic devices at the U.S. border.

These searches, which the government claims the authority to conduct without any suspicion of wrongdoing, have grown dramatically in recent years, rising from about 8,500 in 2015 to over 30,000 in 2017. To learn more, the Knight Institute filed a FOIA request for records, including policy documents and portions of the database used by the government to document its searches.

In response to its lawsuit, the Knight Institute has now obtained a 92-page spreadsheet cataloging over 400 traveler complaints submitted between October 1, 2011 to April 4, 2017, around 240 of which describe searches of electronic devices. The complaints reveal a range of discriminatory, demeaning, and gratuitously intrusive treatment of travelers who were forced to turn over the digital details of their lives without judicial oversight or suspicion of wrongdoing.

Agencies Involved: Department of Homeland Security (Customs & Border Protection, and Immigration & Customs Enforcement)

Status: On June 12, the government filed its response and reply brief in support of its motion for summary judgment and in opposition to plaintiff’s cross-motion for summary judgment.

Case Information: Knight First Amendment Inst. at Columbia Univ. v. DHS, No. 1:17-cv-00548-TSC (D.D.C.).

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