‘While the world anxiously watches the situation in Iraq unfold, it’s important to understand domestic byproducts of the ongoing military conflict between the United States and Iran.
Specifically, the tensions between the two nations have lead to an increase in the questioning of travelers of Iranian descent who attempt to cross U.S. borders. There have also been reports of police departments exploiting the hysteria to increase surveillance and security measures.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a statement noting their opposition to any “targeting of people for digital surveillance based on their race, religion, or nationality, at our border and in our interior.” As the Mind Unleashed previously reported, on January 4 more than 60 people of Iranian descent, including U.S. citizens, were held at the border between Canada and Washington state for many hours and questioned. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) denied that it detained or refused entry to Iranians based on their national origin despite multiple reports from travelers. According to a Buzzfeed report, a CBP officer coerced at least one U.S. citizen into providing the password to his smartphone before taking the phone away for two hours.
“EFF has long argued, including in Alasaad v. McAleenan, that travelers have significant privacy interests in their digital data and that the U.S. Constitution protects such interests at the border,” EFF writes. “We’ve also argued that these rights are not suspended if an international traveler happens to be of a particular race, religion, or nationality. Indeed, digital surveillance at the border, if predicated on these factors, is both unconstitutional and a moral outrage.”’