Washington, DC – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan today demanding answers about a disturbing incident she was alerted to by one of her constituents after he was subjected to intensive secondary screening by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon returning to the country, including a request to search his private electronic devices.
Dr. Andreas Gal, a prominent technologist employed by Apple Inc., said he was detained and interrogated for an hour by three armed CBP agents upon his return from an international trip at San Francisco International Airport in November 2018. The agents insisted that they be given access to Dr. Gal’s unlocked electronic devices and threatened him with criminal charges when he asked to speak to an attorney or his employer about it. Dr. Gal has been outspoken politically in the past, including about issues regarding online privacy.
“[T]he circumstances of the Incident,” Rep. Speier wrote, “raise significant concerns about the officers’ adherence to law and basic constitutional protections.” She continued, “We need to secure the border, but it must be secured without trampling on our … Bill of Rights.”
In her letter, Rep. Speier requested information about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) and CBP’s policies concerning searches of electronic devices, an issue with serious ramifications for personal privacy.
Click here to view a copy of the letter.