Your laptop will be seized at the border if we like it

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed to the Washington Post what many people have mentioned in recent months: DHS border guards are seizing laptops, Blackberries and other electronic items at the border with little or no probable cause of wrongdoing.

Federal agents may take a traveler’s laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies theDepartment of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop’s contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The full policy is here. Interesting that they don’t actually cite any law as authority for the seizures, though the 9th Circuit of California (i.e. the ‘Whacky Circuit) has upheld the searches.

Typical ’security guard turned cop’ mentality going on here. My friends in the intelligence community really get tired of law enforcement stuff like this as the giant ‘hoovering’ effect of pulling in more and more intelligence yields very little nuggets but encourages the bad guys to find systems of communicating ‘off the grid’ which they simply cannot penetrate.

I suspect this policy will be changed soon.


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