Tuesday, February 12, 2008

News on Border Searches of Computers

Questions surrounding Customs and Border Protection searches of computers at the border continue to generate news and lawsuits.

Here are two recent articles on the topic:

Washington Post


If a CBP inspector could, in a Matrix-like way, jack right into a passenger's brain, he or she might find all sorts of possibly messy private details. These days, computers and other digital devices are extensions of our physical memories. Where we need to be next week and where we were was last week is in our PDAs (and maybe not our head). An arriving passenger's computer might also have privileged client communications, possibly embarrassing bad hair pictures from the 1970's, secret recipes for guacamole, and mash notes from the creepy guy in accounting.

Does CBP have the right to rummage through that data looking for evidence of terrorism, child pornography, or other wrong doing? That is the question that may end up going to go before the Court. For the moment, a suit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco is seeking access to CBP records of searches under the Freedom of Information Act. The complaint is available here.

This looks like another suit to watch.

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