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
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 17 Sep 2008 @ 10:21pm

    Re: Border Search Exception essential

    my first comments were regarding the border exception in general, as some folks have seemed to not get the fact that it is valid US legal percedent established and upheld by the US courts.

    border exception applies to laptops due to child pornography smuggling for instance.

    So why all the big fuss when other governments do it?


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