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June 25, 2008

Groups to warn panel about economic effect of seizing laptops

A disturbing item from Government Executive.com:

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's practice of seizing laptop computers and other electronic devices from American travelers returning to the United States without notifying them of what will happen to the data could negatively affect the U.S. economy, according to travel and privacy analysts who are scheduled to testify before a Senate panel on Wednesday.

The hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee comes two months after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that CBP officials do not need reasonable suspicion to search laptops, BlackBerrys, cell phones and other personal electronic storage devices at U.S. borders. The seizures can include downloading personal information and data from the devices. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Association of Corporate Travel Executives filed amicus briefs earlier this month asking the court to reverse the decision.

CBP's practice places undue burdens on travelers and could have a harmful impact on the economy, said Susan Gurley, executive director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, who plans to testify at the hearing. "Our argument is that essentially in today's world you carry your office with you on electronic devices such as a cell phone, laptop or BlackBerry," Gurley said. "In the old days, if you were physically sitting in your office, you need a warrant to search it. Now basically one does not need a warrant." [Continued...]

The Fourth Amendment was pretty sweet while it lasted.

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Comments

No problem. Encrypt data, put it on a memory stick or flash drive and insert into your favorite body cavity. I don't see how this will have any impact on your international business traveler who will find such a procedure hardly inconvenient, and perhaps even a pleasure.

I agree with the spirit of the complaint, but this remark from Susan Gurley doesn't seem to get it quite right: "In the old days, if you were physically sitting in your office, you need a warrant to search it. Now basically one does not need a warrant."

If you are physically sitting in your office these days, isn't a warrant still necessary to search it, regardless of the 9th Circuit case? Isn't the point here that you can now basically carry your office across the border with you?

America 2.0 - get used to it.

When I read this, I thought: Great. Now we end up using all our offsite backup as primary storage for everything. That lead to the (paranoid?) thought that with a few keystrokes, all our work could dissolve into the ether, and with it ourselves.

Isn't that circuit court decision being appealed? Please?

There's only one place you can appeal to from the Ninth District: the Supreme Court. Good luck.

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