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  4. CBP Releases Statistics on Electronic Device Searches

CBP Releases Statistics on Electronic Device Searches

Release Date
Tue, 04/11/2017

CBP searches the electronic devices of fewer than one-hundredth of 1 percent of all arriving international travelers

WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced today that in the first six months of FY17, CBP searched the electronic devices of 14,993 arriving international travelers, affecting 0.008 percent of the approximately 189.6 million travelers arriving to the United States. CBP continues to process more than 1 million travelers arriving to the United States each day.

Of the more than 383.2 million arriving international travelers that CBP processed in FY15, 0.002 percent of such travelers (8,503) had their electronic devices searched. In FY16, the number of arriving travelers processed by CBP increased to approximately 390.6 million, and the number of travelers whose electronic devices were searched increased to 19,033 (0.005 percent).

The increase of electronic device searches is driven by CBP’s mission to protect the American people and enforce the nation’s laws in this digital age. CBP has adapted and adjusted its actions to align with current threat information. CBP border searches of electronic devices have resulted in evidence helpful in combating terrorist activity, child pornography, violations of export controls, intellectual property rights violations, and visa fraud.

CBP is responsible for ensuring the safety and admissibility of the goods and people entering the United States and exercises its border search authority in accordance with its statutory and constitutional authority. No court has concluded that the border search of electronic devices requires a warrant, and CBP’s use of this authority has been repeatedly upheld. This includes a review by the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals, which approved the search of electronic devices encountered at the border.

“Electronic device searches are integral in some cases to determining an individual’s intentions upon entering the United States,” said Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, John Wagner. “These searches, which affect fewer than one-hundredth of one percent of international travelers, have contributed to national security investigations, arrests for child pornography and evidence of human trafficking. CBP officers are well trained to judiciously conduct electronic device searches and to protect sensitive information that may be encountered.”

Searches of electronic devices have remained consistent in FY17, averaging fewer than 2,500 arriving international travelers per month. Below is a month-to-month comparison for the first six months of FY16 and FY17.



*February 2016 was a leap year.
**March international arrivals are approximate.

CBP discovered an anomaly with the FY16 dataset that was previously released. The issue was tracked to a system modernization upgrade conducted in February 2016. During the upgrade, some data was attributed to the upgrade date rather than the date of the search. As a result, multiple fiscal year datasets were affected. The issue has since been corrected, and the correct dataset is reflected in this release.

Last Modified: Feb 03, 2021