Tell The Bush Administration: Hands Off My Laptop
I have enough problems with my laptop without having to surrender it to officials on demand.
From the link above:
Today the Washington Post ran a front-page story on a topic previously reported by ThinkProgress. Homeland Security is telling customs agents they can search, and take, travelers’ laptops and other electronic devices without needing any reasonable suspicion or probable cause.Insane? Yes. Maybe they could offer spyware removal and defragmentation services. (That is, if indeed, they aren't installing some nefarious software or device.)
The Post story highlights a new Customs and Border Patrol policy document that states:
In the course of a border search, and absent individualized suspicion, officers can review and analyze the information transported by any individual attempting to enter, reenter, depart, pass through, or reside in the United States.
The new policy says CPB can take away the laptop or analyze copies of its contents:
Officers may detain documents and electronic devices, or copies thereof, for a reasonable period of time to perform a thorough border search. The search may take place on-site or at an off-site location.
CBP says that the officers are supposed to return the laptop and destroy copies of the contents if nothing illegal is found (but be sure not to have any downloaded songs that you haven’t paid for).
That is far from comforting, even once you get your laptop back days or weeks later, because “nothing in this policy limits the authority of an officer to make written notes” about what was in the laptop.