by Mike Masnick
Wed, Apr 23rd 2008 9:32am
As was widely expected, an appeals court has ruled that customs agents have every right to search the content of your laptop, reversing the only court case that had ruled otherwise (a few others had previously said such searches were just dandy). The court found (just like the other rulings) that there's an "exception" to the 4th Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure at the border. The government, of course, claims that it needs to be able to search laptops to keep people safe -- but it doesn't explain why it needs the ability to search any laptop even if there's no suspicion or reason to do a further search. The lower court had noted, correctly, that there's so much data and information on a laptop, that it's effectively an extension of your brain. This makes sense. Since so much is digital today, you don't pack up your computer like you pack your suitcase. Everything is already on it. So while you can understand why it's okay to search your suitcases at the border, giving full access to a laptop seems to go beyond reason... unfortunately, the courts disagree. In the meantime, if you're traveling into the country, consider anything on your laptop fair game... unless, of course, it's encrypted. In that case, at least one court says you don't need to give up your encryption key.
If you liked this post, you may also be interested in...
- 2009 DHS Document Says Border Patrol Can Search/Copy The Contents Of Your Device Just Because It Wants To
- Judge Tosses 16 Kilos Of Meth Because CBP Couldn't Be Bothered To Obtain Consent For Its X-Ray Search
- DHS Watchdog Says Border Patrol's Drones Are Expensive, Useless
- New Zealand Whistleblower Reveals He Was Told To 'Bury' Unflattering Info About The Gov't Spying On Dotcom
- Border Patrol Given New Deadly Force Guidelines After Report Shows Officers Created Dangerous Situations To Justify Opening Fire