US searches of phones, laptops at airports rising, suit says

WASHINGTON (AP) — New documents filed in a lawsuit against the government claim searches of phones and laptops at airports and points of entry are rising and are being conducted for reasons beyond immigration and customs enforcement.

There were 33,295 such searches in fiscal 2018.

The government says the warrantless searches are needed to protect America.

But papers filed Tuesday in a suit challenging their constitutionality claim they also are used to enforce tax, environmental and other laws and to advance law enforcement investigations.

A motion filed on behalf of 11 people whose electronic devices were searched asks a federal judge in Massachusetts to rule that the government must get a warrant before going through personal phones and laptops.

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