Feds took woman’s iPhone at border, she sued, now they agree to delete data

An international air traveler is cleared by a US Customs and Border Protection Officer (L) and is approved to enter the United States inside the US Customs and Immigration area at Dulles International Airport (IAD) , December 21, 2011 in Sterling, Virgina, near Washington, DC.

Enlarge / An international air traveler is cleared by a US Customs and Border Protection Officer (L) and is approved to enter the United States inside the US Customs and Immigration area at Dulles International Airport (IAD) , December 21, 2011 in Sterling, Virgina, near Washington, DC. (credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

An American Muslim woman who two months ago asked a federal judge to compel border officials to erase data copied from her iPhone 6S Plus has settled her lawsuit with the government—federal authorities have now agreed to delete the seized data.

The case, Lazoja v. Nielsen, involves what's called a Rule 41(g) Motion, otherwise known as a "Motion to Return Property."

Normally, this rule is invoked for tangible items seized as part of a criminal investigation, not for digital data that can easily be copied, bit for bit. Here, the plaintiff, Rejhane Lazoja, asked the judge to return data that she already has—after all, federal authorities eventually returned her iPhone after 90 days, fully intact.

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