First of all, thanks for posting some ideas on how to circumvent this issue.
Secondly, there are some legal opinions that suggest we have more rights than we think at the border:
And also this comment from an article posted on The Atlantic’s website:
“The only federal appeals court to address this issue directly, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, has disagreed with the government’s position. The en banc Court held that property, such as a laptop and other electronic storage devices, presented for inspection when entering the United States at the border may not be subject to forensic examination without a reason for suspicion. United States v. Cotterman, 709 F.3d 952, 956–57 (9th Cir. 2013) (en banc).”
All this being said, of course, the big advantage customs officers have is that they have full control of you. As a citizen wanting to re-enter the US, they can detain you indefinitely and prevent you from calling a lawyer, though you could arguably decide to return to your place of origin. As a non-citizen, apparently deciding not to travel means you renege on whatever visa status you had, and potentially prevents you from ever re-entering the US.
I agree with you this is scandalous and deserves more attention.