DHS Reveals Policies For Searching Laptops At The Border: Anything Goes
from the privacy-schmivacy dept
After courts repeatedly have ruled that border patrol customs agents can look through your computer hard drive, or even confiscate your computer, with no reasonable cause whatsoever, pressure from groups like the EFF have convinced Congress to investigate. As part of this process, the Department of Homeland Security has revealed its policies for border searches of electronic devices, and as you’d imagine, the policies are basically: “border patrol can do whatever it wants.”
It does not need any reasonable cause. It take away your laptop for as long as it wants. It can copy the contents of your laptop and even share it with both other federal agencies and private entities for “language translation, data decryption or other reasons.” Other reasons seems a bit broad.
We already explained how ridiculous the defense of this police was last month, by noting that it’s not as if stopping this content at the border will actually prevent it from getting in the country. At that time we also pointed out how silly it was for a DHS supporter to claim that reasonable cause shouldn’t be necessary because that’s just not practical. That guy was unable to explain why it is practical throughout the rest of the country not to randomly search laptops, but at the border, suddenly it’s not. However, this article now includes another defense from a customs official, saying that these searches “do not infringe on Americans’ privacy.” How do we know? Apparently, we just have to trust the DHS.
Luckily, this appears to be getting some attention from Congressional representatives who find the whole thing troublesome. The article notes that legislation to stop such searches will be forthcoming soon.