U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have been casually taking data from mobile phones as travelers pass through checkpoints for years. They admitted as much recently.
Border agents do not need a warrant to take cell phones, computers and iPads. Nor do they need one to open those devices up and take data from them. That is what they have been doing, adding that data to their own databases.
In a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, Border Patrol Commissioner Chris Magnus admitted that agents have “run facial recognition searches on millions of Americans’ driver’s license photos [as well as] tapped private databases of people’s financial and utility records to learn where they live [as well as] gleaned location data from license plate reader databases that can be used to track where people drive.”
The CBP admits that they do this but they won’t say how many people they’ve done it to or how big their database is.