Most of you are aware that Leah is going to the 'States tomorrow. Â Even though I've tried to talk her out of it, she is insisting on taking her iPhone and laptopÂ acrossÂ the border. Â I really don't expect her to return later this week with them.
DHS Watchdog OKs â€˜Suspicionlessâ€™ Seizure of Electronic Devices Along Border
The Department of Homeland Securityâ€™s civil rights watchdog has concluded that travelers along the nationâ€™s borders may have theirÂ electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever â€” all in the name of national security.
The DHS, which secures the nationâ€™s border, in 2009 announced that it would conduct a â€œCivil Liberties Impact Assessmentâ€ of its suspicionless search-and-seizure policy pertaining toÂ electronic devices â€œwithin 120 days.â€ More than three years later, the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties published a two-page executive summary of its findings.
â€œWe also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,â€ the executive summaryÂ said.
The memo highlights the friction between todayâ€™s reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects â€” juxtaposed against the governmentâ€™s stated quest for national security.
The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The President Barack Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later. Between 2008 and 2010,Â 6,500 persons had their electronic devices searched along the U.S. border, according to DHS data.
According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment â€” the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures â€” does not apply along the border. By the way,Â the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free ZoneÂ stretches 100 miles inland from the nationâ€™s actual border.[...]