Travelers Laptops May Be Detained At Border

August 1st, 2008 at 12:00 am

department of homeland security

The Department of Homeland Security in the US recently disclosed that they have the jurisdiction to confiscate, detain and prod through any laptop coming into US borders.  This policy disregards any suspicion of wrongdoing, meaning they could take a laptop whenever and for whatever reason they please. Of course that’s assuming that their intentions are purely for homeland security, technically it means anytime they fancy.

"The policies . . . are truly alarming," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government’s border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin, according to the Washington Post.

The policies state that officers may "detain" laptops "for a reasonable period of time" to "review and analyze information." This may take place "absent individualized suspicion."

Furthermore the policy also includes "any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form," this includes cellphones, hard drives, memory cards, cameras, tapes, voice recorders, music players.  Moreover, it also includes books, pamphlets, written documents and "written materials commonly referred to as ‘pocket trash’ or ‘pocket litter.’ "

The DHS is also allowed to share any information they find to other agencies in the government.  On the bright side, if no suspicion or suspicious material arise from the search, all copies of the data ill be deleted and returned to the DHS and presumably the owner.

The complete policy is viewable here