Can TSA Make You Unlock Your Phone?
I don't mind the level of security that passengers at American airports have to go through before they can get on a plane. In traveling abroad I almost find it more disconcerting when the level of security at international airports is far below what is the norm in the U.S.
While most of my security encounters have been brief pat downs, a few questions, and a review of the contents of my carry on, I have never had the contents of my telephone or computer questioned. Which brings me to my question. Can TSA make you unlock your phone or computer?
The legal answer appears to be "maybe". The real answer, if you actually want to get on with your trip and assuming you're not an enemy of the state, is yes, yes they can. But only with your permission can they search your phone. This is one of those "you don't have to" situations but "you'll be better off if you do" if you know what I mean.
In most cases where security agents were unable to gain access to the electronic device they just confiscated it. So, if you've got nothing to hide let them scroll through your pictures, see your Facebook messages, read your Tweets, and just hope that all you have is embarrassing and not incriminating evidence on your devices.
Chances are after a few minutes of scrolling through a thousand pictures of your dog, desserts, stupid selfies, and all those concert videos you took but have never watched, the agents will clear you through security and on toward your destination.
One thing about social media accounts or any other password-protected accounts. Should your device be seized you're not required to give up your passwords. However, if your device automatically logs you in then agents have the right to see what they can see providing you've given them permission to open your phone.
So, my advice? Don't be a bad person and you shouldn't have any problems.