Saturday, November 07, 2009
Cruising to Prison
I'm only posting this link because I know there continues to be interest in the policy questions surrounding Customs and Border Protection warrantless searches of electronic storage devices such as laptops and phones.
This guy was pulled from the customs line following a cruise. He was already a convicted sex offender. That, no doubt, accounts for the heightened scrutiny. When CBP reviewed the contents of his computer, it found child pornography. As a result, the passenger is now headed to prison for 15 years.
The article makes the usual references to civil libertarian concerns and possible statutory changes. The problem with the cases is that the defendants are so unsympathetic. Who in Congress will stand up for the rights of perverts and terrorists to be free from border searches. The problem, of course, goes much deeper because it is not just perverts and pornographers who might be searched. It is everyone and that means privileged medical records, attorney-client communications, ill-conceived love letters, and other sensitive documents. Customs has issued new guidelines on the searches, and there are some safety measures in place. Still, there is enough here to make everyone feel a little queasy.