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Brits could be forced to unlock their phones at US immigration

UK TRAVELLERS could soon be forced to hand over their social media usernames and passwords and their phone contacts under new border controls on the table in the US.

The Wall Street Journal reports that such “extreme vetting” could apply even to arrivals from allied countries such as the UK and France.

“The vast majority of people will not be questioned that way” said US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, speaking before the Senate last week. But he warned, “We will do it when we think there’s a reason to do it”.

The move is the latest in a line of strategies adopted by the Trump administration in an attempt to tighten up border controls against potential terrorist attack. Last month the decision was taken to ban electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from the cabin of flights from countries on Trump’s no-no list.

Last week, it became legal to view and sell browser histories without permission once you’re in the country too.

The concept of phone checking was first mooted back in February, exploiting the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) right to refuse entry to anyone who they don’t like the look of. It’s the same across the world, of course. UK Border Force can do the same.

The difference is the extent of powers. Under these proposals, the DHS would be able to demand you hand over your phone and unlock it so they could examine it for any extremist content or known undesirables you may have in your address book, or even Don-Don’s favourite – Twitter followers.

Obviously, given that anyone with half a brain won’t label speed dial seven “bomb”, or put a list of radical preachers in their recently used contacts means that the whole gesture is a bit pointless. After all, if you’re really determined not to give up your right to privacy just to get into a country run by a lunatic, all you need is to take two phones with you and hand in the one where you’ve got the parish vicar on speed dial instead. µ

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