What to do if TSA asks for your password

Image: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file

This is some serious privacy issue for travelers, especially many of us will be traveling for the holidays.

First of, TSA isn’t supposed to confiscate laptops, search digital devices or demand passwords. If someone at a TSA checkout ever attempts to confiscate your devices and/or gain access to your passwords, you should ask to see a supervisor or screening manager immediately.

If you’re travelling outside of US, the bad news is that U.S. border agents can legally search your laptop or other digital device and copy the contents, as well as confiscate devices. They don’t even need suspicion or a warrant to do all that!

The good news is EFF has put together a detailed guide on protecting your privacy while traveling across border: Defending Privacy at the U.S. Border: A Guide for Travelers Carrying Digital Devices. This is something that all you world travelers should take a look.

EFF also has some useful information on travel screening, or if you’ll be traveling to Israel, information on defending your privacy at the Israeli border.

Just remember, there are people who, intentionally or unintentionally, use the excuses of “safety” and “security” to try to gain access to private and sensitive information. Know your rights and learn to protect your information. Think before you give anything out and don’t let them intimate you.


If security wants your password: Privacy for travelers with digital devices (ZDNet)