Thursday, July 31, 2008

U.S. Border Laptop Search & Detention: No Suspicion Required Under DHS Policies

Ellen Nakashima writes in The Washington Post:

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"The policies . . . are truly alarming," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government's border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

DHS officials said the newly disclosed policies -- which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens -- are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

More here.

Background here. Also, I feel compelled to draw your attention to Magic Lantern...



At Tue Aug 05, 05:24:00 PM PDT, Anonymous CBL said...

Please contact the Asian Law Caucus about Questioning and Searches by Customs Agents

The Asian Law Caucus and Stanford Law School Immigrants Rights Clinic are documenting instances in which U.S. citizens or residents have been subject to intrusive questioning or searches by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents when returning to the country after traveling abroad.

Please contact us if you have experienced excessive or repeated searches or questioning or believe you were singled out by Customs agents because of your ethnicity, religion, or other similar reason. For example, we are interested in hearing from people who were questioned about their religion or politics or whose laptop computer was searched. We would also like to hear your story if your company or organization has been affected by Customs and Border Protection policies. Please call the Asian Law Caucus at (415) 848-7714 or email
For further information about our work on this issue, please visit


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