29 June 2008

Search and seizure of laptop computers

WASHINGTON -- Bill Hogan was returning home to the U.S. from Germany in February when a customs agent at Dulles International Airport pulled him aside. He could reenter the country, she told him. But his laptop couldn't.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents said he had been chosen for "random inspection of electronic media," and kept his computer for about two weeks...

Authorities need a search warrant to get at a computer in a person's home and reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to search a laptop in other places. But the rules change at border crossings.

Courts consistently have ruled that there's no need for warrants or suspicions when a person is seeking to enter the country -- agents can search belongings, including computer gear, for any reason...
Our national security paranoia nightmare continues. Those who travel with a computer or PDA may want to read more about this at the original latimes website, or read about coping strategies at this computer security article. Found at J-Walk.

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