ACLU Looking To Challenge Homeland Security On Border Laptop Searches

from the gotta-find-someone-first... dept

Slashdot points us to the news that the ACLU is looking to challenge Homeland Security’s policies that it has pretty free reign in searching your laptop at the border. Now, to date, the courts have said that this is perfectly legal, so it’s not clear what is “new” that the ACLU hopes to prove. However, last year, after revealing that the new administration still stood by these border computer searches, it also revealed some data on laptop searches, suggesting they are quite rare — but do still happen. However, the ACLU is seeking people whose laptops were searched, but that looks like a pretty small number of people. While I agree that these searches seem quite questionable for a variety of reasons, I just don’t see this lawsuit being effective.

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Comments on “ACLU Looking To Challenge Homeland Security On Border Laptop Searches”

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10 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

The article specifically stated the ACLU was in search of lawyers whose laptops were searched, in potential violation of the attorney/client privilege. Yes they should sue. The article also said the lawsuit isn’t seeking monetary damages, just a policy change.

I’m no fan of the ACLU, but sometimes, they do the right thing. Let’s just say we get another Richard Nixon in the White House, and certain journalists, legal experts, satirists and educators from inside and outside the US are analyzing, criticizing and investigating the American political situation. Someone needs to stand up to the government now, before they are granted blanket powers of search and seizure in the name of national and border security.

flamsmark (profile) says:

Unclear Legal Battle

I don’t like laptop searches at the border. I use encrypted disks, so I’m not particularly worried about access to my personal information.

Those who have privileged and confidential info on their laptops — like the lawyers this suit seeks to represent — should be using strong encryption as a matter of course. This is especially true when they do things which might result in someone searching their laptop: like crossing a border which has an explicit policy of doing so.

Given the precedents, and the legal basis of that jurisprudence, it seems quite an odd case to pursue. It’s not clear to me what legal argument might have even a moderate chance of success in this case. Perhaps the ACLU has an ace up their sleeve? Perhaps they know that they’ll lose, but want to draw attention to the issue as a matter of public policy?

This case looks interesting, not because it seems like an effective challenge against a draconian policy, but because I want to know just what the ACLU is planning.

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