It used to be that the most intrusive experience business travelers faced at airport security was a possible pat-down, or a customs check of luggage. These days, border control agents are searching passengersâ€™ phones, tablets and laptops for â€¦ well, anything they want to see. Your complying with the request grants them access to documents, emails, passwords, contacts and social media account information. So travelers carrying confidential or privileged corporate information (in addition to the merely personal) need to take steps ahead of time to ensure that private data stays private.
The laws around data privacy at checkpoints are murky, and border control officers in the U.S. and elsewhere have been making full use of the allowable gray areas, asking travelers to turn over email logins and social media passwords, searching devices and making forensic copies of data.