Civil Liberties

Laptop Privacy at the Border


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) files an amicus brief in a case, U.S. v. Arnold (being considered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) of a man caught on child porn charges because of a search of his laptop by customs agents at Los Angeles airport. From the EFF press release:

Over the past several years, U.S. customs agents have been searching and even seizing travelers' laptops when they are entering or leaving the country if the traveler fits a profile, appears to be on a government watch list, or is chosen for a random inspection. The Supreme Court has ruled that customs and border agents may perform "routine" searches at the border without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion, but EFF and ACTE argue that inspections of computers are far more invasive than flipping through a briefcase.

"Our laptop computers contain vast amounts of personal information about our lives. You may do your banking on your computer, for example, or send email to your doctor about health concerns," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. "Travelers should not be subjected to unconstitutionally invasive searches of their laptops and other electronic devices just because they are crossing the border."

Full EFF amicus brief.