Bills Introduced To Protect Laptops At Border Searches

from the restoring-the-4th-amendment dept

As was widely expected following earlier statements from politicians such as Russ Feingold, legislation has now been introduced that would curb Homeland Security's ability to randomly search laptops at the border, instead, requiring them to have a "reasonable suspicion" of illegal activity before they can search or copy a hard drive. This would be a huge step forward in terms of reasonable levels of privacy at the border. While defenders of the random search program claim that it's necessary, they give little proof. You can tell because their arguments could equally be applied to searching a random person on the street as well, as they just give vague platitudes about protecting the country from harm. Yet our country has privacy rights and probable cause for a very good reason. It's nice to actually see some politicians standing up to make sure that Homeland Security live up to those ideals.

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  1. identicon
    randy, 1 Oct 2008 @ 10:20am

    maybe a little background in the law would help here. First the 4th amendment has been held by the Supreme Court not to apply to border crossing. The 4th amendment applies to search and seizure when we are in the country and the border is not considered in the country as such. So nothing is added to the debate by preaching about searches of one's home.

    Second the standards of reasonable cause also don't apply to the border. They can search you, your body cavities and your luggage if they want to. You have tacitly "signed up for that" when you leave the country and cross the border coming back in. If an Iranian ship comes into our harbors, do we really want to accord it 4th amendment protections from inspection? How about a North Korean boat? Again same answer.

    So let's not get preachy about this. There are plenty of reasons why our border patrols can search whatever they want when something comes into the country. That has been the state of constitutional law for decades--and no that is not a neocom invention.

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