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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, 20 Sep 2008 @ 12:54pm

    Re: vote early, vote often

    @ Anonymous CBP Agent: we know the law grants an exception to the fourth at the border. that still doesn't explain why it is so. why are portions of the bill of rights suspended?

    Oh, hey, that brings up another good question. If there's an exception to the 4th at the border, what other rights do we forfeit when traveling? Do I still have the right to due process? Am I still free to worship as pleases me, or speak my mind, or are these fundamental rights also curtailed?


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