Australian Border Force had allegedly forced a man to share his phone passcode and hand over his phone at Sidney airport. A software developer by profession, James and his partner were returning from their holiday from Fiji when this incident took place.
Under the Customs Act, the Australian Border Force or the ABF can seize, search or ask travelers to hand over their phone and passcode as part of their power to scrutinize people’s belongings at the border.
This practice is justified under the context of national security and the protection of the Australian community. A spokesperson of ABF stated that people can be searched and have their phones checked, “if they suspect the person may be of interest for immigration, customs, biosecurity, health, law-enforcement or national security reasons”.
Although the ABF officers stand their ground, James has severely criticized the action and has termed it as a massive violation of our privacy in his Reddit Post.
“We weren’t informed why they wanted to look at the phones. We were told nothing,”- James shared in his interview with Guardian Australia.
“Who knows what they’re taking out of it? With your phone and your passcode they have everything, access to your entire email history, saved passwords, banking, Medicare, myGov. There’s just so much scope.”- he added.
Several arguments and discussions have sprung from this incident, which has people thinking about how much of this information is being stored, how often are searches conducted, who can access this data, what’s the retention policy, and most importantly, how they can protect their personal or company data they might be stored in their devices.
While both sides have valid and crucial arguments to present, it’s barely a black and white situation. Will the ABF address the public inquisition? We can only wait and see.