Border entry searches of electronic devices up nearly 50 percent last year: report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers searched 50 percent more electronic devices in fiscal 2017 than they did the year before, according to a new watchdog report.

Customs officers searched 29,000 devices among 397 million travelers in fiscal 2017, up from 18,400 devices among 390 million travelers the year before. 

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The Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report concluded that many of these electronic device searches were conducted improperly, without adequate supervision or adherence to preexisting policies.

Officers sometimes failed to adequately document these searches, leading to gaps in information available about how they were conducted and what they found on the devices, according to the report.

There were also multiple instances in which officers failed to take the devices offline before searching them, a violation of security protocol that requires internet access to be disabled during electronic searches. 

The OIG report recommended that the Office of Field Operations more thoroughly document searches, consistently turn off internet access before searches, renew equipment, ensure travelers' information is deleted from thumb drives after searches and develop a better system to assess the electronic devices program.

CBP agreed to all of the recommendations and said they have already made progress on some of them.