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.
All this hue and cry about laptop searches is nothing but bleeding-heart bullhockey. The search is nothing more or less than the electronic equivalent of examining a suitcase or briefcase. If Customs can't search laptops for contraband, then why bother searching anything at all?
Laptops could contain child pornography, terrorist plans, hate crime info, etc., in addition to legitimate personal or business information - just like a briefcase or suitcase.
This is the 21st Century, and practically everything is done electronically. Should Customs only be allowed to search cargo and passengers from sailing ships???
Your faithful retired Customs officer.