UK border police can seize and download your phone’s data for no reason at all: Police in the UK have the power to seize mobile devices from any traveler entering the country, and can retain their personal data for as long as they see fit, according to a report from the Telegraph. Such blanket powers are outlined under UK counterterrorism laws, and are broadly applied to thousands of travelers each year — regardless of whether police establish grounds for suspicion before confiscating a device. The revelations, published late Friday, have raised concerns among civil libertarians and privacy advocates, and an independent reviewer is expected to propose tighter checks on border police this week.
According to the Telegraph, UK border officials can download a person’s photos, contact lists, and call logs, and retain them for “as long as necessary” — even if a traveler is allowed to proceed after being stopped. Authorities can also retain information on who a traveler texts or e-mails, though they remain barred from seizing the contents of these messages. Up to 60,000 travelers are “stopped and examined” every year under powers delegated by the Terrorism Act 2000, but the number of seized mobile devices remains unclear.