Human rights activists have expressed concern over the practice, calling it a violation of privacy.
Australia found itself embroiled in yet another controversy this week after returning travelers claimed they were forced to hand over their phones and passwords to border officials at the airport.
One man told The Guardian on Tuesday that he and his partner were made to write down their phone passwords for border officials upon returning to Australia from a 10-day vacation in Fiji.
Upon giving officials their passwords, their phones were taken into a separate room for half an hour, where it was unclear what was being searched.
“We weren’t informed why they wanted to look at the phones. We were told nothing,” the man said, calling it a “gross violation of privacy.”
“Who knows what they’re taking out of it? With your phone and your passcode they have everything, access to your entire email history, saved passwords, banking, Medicare, myGov. There’s just so much scope,” he added.
Unfortunately, the practice is nothing new and Australian border officials have the power to request devices and passwords from incoming travelers, whether they’re Australian or not.
A spokesperson for the Australian Border Force told The Guardian that the practice was intended to “protect the Australian community from harm” and boasted that “information seized from passengers phones has contributed to the success of many domestic law enforcement operations targeting illegal activities.”