Your Laptop Can Be Seized at the Border For Any Reason—Without a Warrant

Your Laptop Can Be Seized at the Border For Any Reason—Without a Warrant

From the “Have to Get Real US News from BBC Because Our Media Sucks” department…

A federal judge has ruled that if you’re crossing the border, anything you have is subject to being seized—including your laptop.  While most of us don’t carry bank statements, intimate photos of our significant others, serial numbers or photos of our valuables, or other sensitive information in our luggage on paper, some of us may carry those things and more on our laptops.  Journalists carry story research, complete with source information; business travelers carry proprietary or sensitive information, etc.  Yet even this is apparently fair game for the vultures in the federal government surveillance state.

We aren’t talking about the TSA check, where they swab it for “residue” and maybe make you fire it up just to ensure it isn’t harboring a bomb of some type (which, by the way, is ALSO a violation of your rights, but apparently we’ve all just let that one go).  In this scenario, the feds actually TAKE your laptop, keep it for as long as they deem necessary to check for terrorist activity (or pull all your saved passwords from Firefox, download your bank statements and account numbers, look at all the pictures of your children, and do whatever else they want), and return it to you at their convenience, with obvious evidence of file tampering.  Also…they’ll make a copy of your hard drive, for cataloging and storing and tagging.

Considering that the “border” now refers to a strip from the actual border to 100 miles inland, this has some seriously bad ramifications.  Think about it—how many major metropolitan areas fall within 100 miles of the border?  They are now in “constitution free zones.” As in, there is no constitution.

Next time you fly, consider leaving your laptop at home.  Why give the ghouls any satisfaction?  If you must have your laptop with you, consider storing all sensitive information on an encrypted external hard drive that you leave at home.  Travel only once you’ve scrubbed your laptop clean of anything identifying.  In addition, you may want to get a copy of TrueCrypt.  It’s free, and the FBI can’t break it (yet).

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