The constitution provides certain privacy rights. Attorneys and their clients generally enjoy extra protections on privacy with “privileged” correspondence. But what happens if the information is inadvertently exposed? There are all sorts of pitfalls that can expose your sensitive information. Here are some shocking ones.
File sharing services can cause waiver of attorney-client privilege if files are not send with an encrypted link.
Archive vendor staffers sometimes sell access to your data, which is what some believe to have caused the rich and famous exposé known as Panama Papers and Paradise Papers.
And now there is a new one. Customs and Border Protection officers that meet and greet you at the airport, are now receiving request from a variety of government agencies to meet, greet, and download all your data from your phone and laptop.
In exchange for letting you get home, airport border security may force you to give them all of your data; your phone data (locations visited, contacts, photos, social media posts, email, texts, and more!) and your laptop files (tax returns, attorney correspondence, love letters, browser history, saved photos, email and attachments, internet video views cached in your browser, and video and photo downloads, etc.).
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF) and ACLU have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Government to request the courts to end what they refer to as warrantless search and seizure. EEF reports government mandated device downloads at the border are up 400% in the last year. Considering the number of border patrol data seizures and number of annual international travelers returning home, more than 1 in 1,000 are likely to be welcomed with a device data seizure; that is about 1 person for every two jumbo jet flights returning to the USA.
Meet Jeremy Dupin, a journalist living in Massachusetts, Aaron Gach, an artist living in California, Diane Maye, a college professor and former captain in the U.S. Air Force living in Florida, Matthew Wright, a computer programmer in Colorado, parties mentioned in the EEF lawsuit; and 33,000 other American and US residents who were welcomed at the border with a friendly border security welcome home…we let you go home only if you let us download all of your data.
Your private photos exposed, video data cached in your browser cataloged, your attorney correspondence shared across government agency, what might be downloaded, saved, cross referenced, and shared across government department? For most, perhaps nothing of much interest. But if any agency feels they might want your information that they cannot easily get otherwise, this process makes it easy.
Getting Trump tax returns? Easier for the Democrats, perhaps, to simply notify Border Patrol to seize the data from Trump tax advisers’ laptops next time they head to the Bahamas on vacation. Maybe, leave your laptop at home.
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