Wickham Lawyers

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Mobile phone search at the airport

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has the power to examine ANY goods at the Border including electronic devices. These electronic devices include your mobile phone, laptop, tablet and any of your electronic documents and photos located in these devices.

What are your rights?

If ABF officials want to search your phone, you can refuse. However, if you refuse to comply with a request for an examination of an electronic device, you might be “referred for further enforcement action”. The ABF has the power to detain you and search your electronic devices.

What can they search and seize?

ABF officials have the power to question all travellers and examine any goods in the interest of Australia’s immigration policy, customs, biosecurity, health, law enforcement or national security.
In fact, to date, information seized from passenger’s phones, has led to the success of many law enforcement operations targeting illegal activities.

What can they do with my phone data?

ABF officials also have the power to copy data from your phone if they are satisfied it contains information about an alleged offence, prohibited goods or illegal activity.
There is no requirement for a person – yourself for your lawyer included – to be present when an ABF official copies a document from your electronic device.

Can I ask them to delete the data they have copied?

After the search has been completed, you are able to make an application for your data to be deleted.
If it is the case where nothing that breaches Custom control or the Crimes Act is found, then the application is likely to be granted.
However, if it’s the case that material is found that amounts to a breach of Custom control or an offence against the Crimes Act, then the application is likely to be denied on the basis it could form part of evidence against you in Court.

Implications on visas

Based on your phone data including on social media and WhatsApp, the ABF may cancel your visa at the airport and you will be removed from Australia.
You can contact Wickham Lawyers at 07 3831 9025 for any further information in this matter.


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