In Most Of North Dakota Federal Agents Can Search Your Phone Without A Warrant


A new report from the Department of Homeland Security is asserting the right of immigration and border patrol officials to execute “suspicionless and warrantless” searches of electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.) within their jurisdiction, which extends 100 miles into the United States from our international borders and coast lines.

A glance at this map from the ACLU showing this “constitution-free zone” shows that most of North Dakota is included:


From the DHS report:

The overall authority to conduct border searches without suspicion or warrant is clear and longstanding, and courts have not treated searches of electronic devices any differently than searches of other objects. We conclude that CBP’s and ICE’s current border search policies comply with the Fourth Amendment.

We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits.

This might make sense at the border, but how about 100 miles from the border?

This is also an interesting question in light of a bill before the North Dakota legislature (HB1373 introduced by Rep. Rick Becker) which would would require that state agencies get a warrant before using a surveillance drone for a criminal investigation. Given North Dakota’s proximity to the Canadian border, and the assertion by the federal government that they don’t need a warrant for any type of border search, it’s not hard to imagine local law enforcement piggy backing their drone investigations onto existing federal drone missions.

The implications for privacy issues are serious, and worrisome.

Not only can US border and immigration agents exercise their authority with little constitutional restraint in most of North Dakota, there’s little state officials can do to protect citizens.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • ec99

    We can’t allow a trifiling like probable cause to get in the way of our protection.

  • Captornado

    Your papers comrade!

  • matthew_bosch

    If we can save just one life by putting DHS monitored cameras in everyone’s home, its worth it…

    • Dan

      You heard it here first…what you just said will be reality within 10 years…15 at most.

  • matthew_bosch

    Janet Napolitano has no time for pesky laws…

  • Thresherman

    From reading various reports on this, it seem to apply only those who are or just have crossed the border. There is a long legal precedent of warrentless searches at the border, but the troubling part is the DHS extending that 100 miles in country from the border. Here the situation becomes murkier. Does this apply only to those who have crossed the border, aroused suspicion and then could be re-searched after they left the border or is it a carte blanche usurpation of our 4th Amendment rights? The DHS should be issuing a clarification, but given that it took them three years to do the last one which was due in 120 days, I’m not going to hold my breath. I suspect that this will be battled out in the courts before the highly paid and compensated bureaucrats at DHS can muster up the ability to provide an intelligent response.

  • Rebel Yell

    This is why folks should get their mobile devices under an assumed name, as I do. That way the Federalie Fascists — or state fascists — can’t monitor you. People must take action against the state or they will end up like those hapless folks in Germany and Russia in the 1930s.

  • Rafael

    Put a lock on your phone. My friend has a safe in the middle of his console in his truck and whenever he gets pulled over he shows the safe to the cop and says “just dont ask me to open this safe”. He loves doing that!

  • Mike Peterson

    let’s see… Grand Forks to Canada….. 80 miles… DANG! Constitution-free! shucks!

    • Dan

      Constitution free means WE don’t have to follow the law either…right? Since the 4th amendment trumps “case law”, if an agent doing a warrantless/suspicionless search and gets shot, has a crime actually been committed? And since the officer in question performed the FIRST illegal act, who would go to jail?

      Yeah, I know the answer….just blowing off steam because this issue pisses me off so allah-damned much.

  • Mike Peterson

    Gotta love the report though: “WE CONCLUDE that the 4th Amendment is harmful to your safety.” What a total insult for them to say civil rights are only BENEFITS. Do I need to pay for higher insurance to get those kind of constitutional “benefits” or what??

  • Joel H

    Rob, Alex Jones spoke of this years ago, do you still think he is a conspiracy wacko? wake up you kool aid drinking neocon! You would be a better person if and only if you would stop being bought and paid for by the Minot mafia and learn from Alex Jones.

    • Rob

      I wish I was bought and paid for by whoever this “Minot Mafia” is.

      Do you have their number? Maybe I could get in touch.


      • Joel H

        Paul Sorum or will you eliminate this post & the truth like you did his before? wakeup NeoCon Alex Jones is years ahead of you! you have been lapped but you think you are leading the race!

  • godaddy

    This map and info has been around for over a decade. But that was a conspiracy. Now Rob posts it and all of the sudden it’s real. This is the problem with the so-called mainstream media (yes, Rob is still part of it), to be able to see what’s happening in advance you’re a conspiracy theorist but when the media reports it (years later) all the sudden it’s news.

    • Rob

      I’m part of the mainstream media?

      Huh. News to me. And them, probably.

      You do realize that the DHS’ assertion of warrantless searches of electronic devices is new, right? Or is that just part of the conspiracy too?

      • godaddy

        Rob, it may be new for DHS but it’s not new for the CIA or NSA. What you are trying to be all high and mighty about with DHS is just a diversion and a symptom of a larger problem that you are too afraid to discuss. It’s nice you reported this though. Regarding your lower post about the Minot Mafia and you don’t know who they are why did you deep 6 your article where a poster said you are very aware of them and their corruption including Dalrymple? Good effort though. The post was regarding your cya article about the citizens grand jury effort.

        • godaddy

          I left out the FBI. They too can track your every move and listen in to your conversations at any time, not just 100 miles from the border.

  • VocalYokel

    One more reason I don’t have one.

  • Joel H

    Rob, sadly you are bought and paid for. People are becoming aware you are a fraud working against the Constitution, Freedom & God. Tell the truth! Do it for your children.