DHS: Laptop Border Searches Are Bad... Except When We Do It

from the that-may-change-soon dept

The Department of Homeland Security has been actively (though with really weak arguments) defending its policy of searching laptops at the border, even without probable cause. Yet, at the very same time that it was staunchly defending the policy and refusing to testify in front of Congress over it, it was also issuing a report warning international travelers not to take laptops, since foreign governments often search them. You see, when foreign governments do it, it's evil espionage. But when we do it, it's for our own security:
"Foreign governments routinely target the computers and other electronic devices and media carried by U.S. corporate and government personnel traveling abroad to gather economic, military, and political information."
Either way, it looks like DHS's own freedom to search laptops without probable cause may soon get curtailed. The Senate has been making noise for a while about introducing a bill to reign in the laptop searches, and Rep. Loretta Sanchez introduced some legislation in the House last week that would establish clear rules, compared to the anything goes policy currently in existence. Kind of sad that we need special legislation to make it clear that the 4th Amendment should apply at the border, but such is life these days.

Filed Under: 4th amendment, border, laptop searches, privacy, probable cause


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  1. identicon
    Dosquatch, 17 Sep 2008 @ 8:35pm

    Re: Border Search Exception essential

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    This, above all, is the foundation upon which all else that is America is built. Jefferson didn't say "All Americans", he didn't say "All white men", he didn't say "we and our allies".

    Jefferson said "All men". Everyone, everywhere, regardless of color, creed, or nationality, is endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, rights from which all else springs, including the Bill of Rights.

    That includes the right to be secure in my person, papers, and effects not being violated. I don't care that I'm crossing a border, I don't care in which direction I'm crossing. If I have not given reasonable cause, then my business is my own and you have NO BUSINESS pawing through my books and electronics.

    There is no justification. We're all on this planet together. Isn't it time we acted as such? Because if we don't, and we continue to ignore our own ideals when dealing with foreigners (and, increasingly, with ourselves) then "All men are created equal" and "We the people" are nothing more than hollow words and we're all hypocrites.


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