Strip searches are a travellers worst nightmare, but you cannot really say no to them since they are in place to ensure passenger safety, and now recently, there have been reports that traveller in the US are beginning to face “digital strip searches” as well, where authorities demand access to people’s digital devices without having to state any reason. The said digital search resulted in a lawsuit being filed against TSA and so far, from what we can tell, the lawsuit has not been resolved.
While the future of digital searches remains in grey zone in the US, it has been adopted as a policy in New Zealand. According to the law passed in New Zealand, customs can ask to inspect one’s electronic devices completely, meaning that you will also have to provide them with the means to unlock your device. If anyone refuses to provide full access to their device, customs can confiscate it, go through with forensically and fine the individual $5000.
This law has obviously raised plenty of privacy concerns, people are also concerned about what impact this law will have on their banking. Especially for people who carry cryptocurrency on their devices, this law can easily make it very challenging to go between borders while carrying bitcoin or any other sort of cryptocurrency.
Privacy compromising and invading technologies are becoming more and more common now, just take a look at fingerprint sensors on smartphone devices, various social media apps, and Apple’s advanced facial recognition system that has the ability to precisely map your facial features and store that data. This digital strip search (if it becomes more widely adopted) can easily take privacy invasion to a whole new level, customs can browse through your personal information, even collect it and misuse it, and you will not be able to lift a finger since the law will be on their side.
There has been a rising trend in privacy being sacrificed for security, in fact ever since the widespread availability of technology began, governments have been finding ways of keeping a track on people. Governments that compromise their population’s privacy cannot be taken as democratic bodies since they are robbing their citizens of their freedom, New Zealand’s latest move easily diminishes its status as a democratic country.
Privacy invasion and technology integration seem to have become interrelated now, one cannot maintain their privacy completely if they wish to integrate themselves completely with technology. The worst part is that society has become so dependent on technology that you really cannot survive in it if you keep yourself segregated from technology, smartphones are already a necessity, and now we are beginning to see a growing popularity in “smart home” systems such as Amazon’s Alexa that is more than capable of monitoring you while you are in your home. Should privacy be compromised for the sake of security? Is it right for our governments to take away our freedom? The answer to both of these questions should remain a definitive no.