Judge Says DHS Can't Hang Onto Travelers Laptops To Search Much Later Without A Warrant

from the a-bit-of-good-news dept

We just had a story about a court ruling saying that it was okay for customs agents to take a laptop away and search it somewhere else if they had reasonable suspicion. This has followed a string of controversial court decisions, which say there are no 4th amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure at the border. On top of that, the Department of Homeland Security has made it pretty clear that it feels it can do whatever it wants at the border.

However, there may be some limits. Another recent court ruling has told Homeland Security that it cannot seize a laptop, hang onto it indefinitely and do searches on it many months later without a warrant. It's not entirely clear where the line lies here. The court basically says that earlier searches of the same laptop were fine, but there was no reason to hold onto it for so many months and then do another search.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 5:18am

    First really? nice.
    So here's my question, if the lappy is locked down, fully encrypted and protected...can you be forced to give up the passwords? and if not, do you get your lappy back?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 5:31am

    We are the DHS

    You are outside of the border.
    You have no rights.
    We own all your bases.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 5:32am

    Re:

    no, they cannot force you to give any passwords. if you have your laptop locked and it requires a password to log in, they cant do anything about it but give it back to you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 5:43am

    Remind me...

    who is protecting us from the spooks? I thought the idea was that the spooks were to protect us? The spooks seem more interested in their own agendas and emulating the Gestapo than trying to protect American citizens

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 5:46am

    Re: Remind me...

    This has been a recurring theme since the dawn of the human race.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 6:21am

    Stalemate

    no, they cannot force you to give any passwords.
    Sadly, at the UK border under RIPA they can demand passwords. What exactly is supposed to happen if you genuinely cannot remember or don't know (eg if you were transporting the laptop for someone else) is not clear. Also, if you use Truecrypt and they believe that there are more layers than you admit to then it is not clear what follows.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Rose M. Welch (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 6:26am

    Re: We are the DHS

    No, that's incorrect.

    All of your base belong to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 7:01am

    Re: @1 In all seriousness, depends only on their whims.

    You are now subject to epsilon minuses with nearly unlimited power. There's a thin veneer of process and civility left, but while you're standing there in your socks, you'd better not make the least remark that implies you have rights. They can seize not only your laptop but your person, and literally disappear you, no charge, no lawyer, no trace, and no appeasing them with merely giving your password.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: We are the DHS

    I'm fairly certain that all your base are belong to us....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Adam Bell (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 7:53am

    Given tools like Dropbox, why would anyone want to run the risk of a hassle at the border (which I cross frequently from Canada)? As Mike has pointed out many times now, the Internet crosses the border without overt DHS hassle. Use it if you're carrying sensitive info or email the info ahead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    interval (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: We are the DHS

    For great justice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    WammerJammer (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 8:23am

    Lock it down

    Encrypt it before you travel and the passwords are your business and you cannot be forced to give them up. The police everywhere lie and cannot be trusted so tell them nothing. They are the true privacy wreckers. Get on a cop's radar and you'll never see privacy again.
    Police Lie. Politicians Lie. Lawyers Lie. This is their job, to defraud, to stretch the truth, to lie. So if Homeland Security tells you a thing it is either a lie or a partial truth. The time has come to decide who to trust. The battle lines have been drawn and now more than ever it is THEM or US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    Re: Remind me...

    The spooks seem more interested in their own agendas and emulating the Gestapo than trying to protect American citizens

    http://www.forbes.com/2007/06/11/urban-surveillance-security-biz-21cities_cx_cd_0611futu recity.html

    The East German Stasi also engaged in rampant surveillance, using a network of snitches to assemble secret files on every resident of East Berlin. They knew who was telling subversive jokes--but missed the fact that the Wall was about to come down.


    or to quote the great Robert Anton Winston: "National security is the chief cause of national insecurity."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    They can't just use MS Cofee for it? lol

    Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE)

    http://www.microsoft.com/industry/government/solutions/cofee/default.aspx

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: We are the DHS

    would somebody set up us the bomb?





    ...............please???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 9:16am

    1. The CBP certainly can hold you until you give up the passwords. You don't have rights at the border because you're not "officially" in the USA.

    2. Anybody calling their laptop a "lappy" doesn't deserve to get it back.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 9:36am

    Re:

    Anybody calling their laptop a "lappy" doesn't deserve to get it back.
    C'mon! You can't take away Strongbad's email responding abilities!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 10:10am

    This is in line with previous case law regarding searching of packages in shipment. Law enforcement agencies CAN do certain non-intrusive searches (like bring a drug sniffing dog through a UPS/FedEx/whatever shipping hub), but they can't delay a package they think might have something "bad" in it unless they get a warrant first.

    So same basic deal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Jun 11th, 2010 @ 11:10am

    It might be one thing for them to have the right to seize property at the board without cause, but then taking it into the county without obtaining a warrant should make the seizure and the possession unlawful. They may not have to abide by the law when they are "outside" the country, but they damn better have to abide by it the moment they set one foot into it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 11:26am

    Re: We are the DHS

    God given rights do not disappear just because you cross a man made line.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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