Next time you travel out of the country, you could be asked by border agents to turn over your phone and your password when you return -- or even when you leave -- so they can search it, with NBC News reporting that there been a big increase in these searches. NBC said they looked at 25 cases in which this happened, and the only thing the U.S. citizens had in common was that 23 of them were Muslim. Department of Homeland Security data shows the increase in these phone searches actually began last year, up from less than 5,000 in 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016. But that's escalated even more, with 5,000 phones searched in February alone, more than one-fifth of the total for all of 2016. Senior intelligence officials said the increase was sparked by several domestic incidents carried out by U.S. citizens. However, some critics see the influence of Donald Trump's campaign language about a Muslim travel ban and his controversial executive orders on travel, with the ACLU's Hugh Handeyside saying, "The shackles are off. We see individual officers and perhaps supervisors as well pushing those limits, exceeding their authority and violating people's rights." NBC cited sources as saying a loophole is being exploited, under which the Fourth Amendment requirement of reasonable suspicion for a search of someone or their possessions doesn't apply at border crossings and airport terminals. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon plans to propose legislation requiring border agents to at least get a warrant to search U.S. citizens' electronics, and ban them from demanding passwords.
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