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Court Upholds Government Right to Search Laptops and Phones at Border Crossings

A federal judge said Tuesday that the government has a right to search the portable electronic devices of travelers and dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the policy. The decision impacts travelers entering the U.S. by air and other means including automobile and train.... ( More...

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LancairESP 9
I support efforts to ensure national security and will aid the authorities in those efforts - until they infringe upon my personal rights. A federal judge cannot tell me that although my search was unjustified, in many other cases it might be so "screw my rights". At that point I shut down and give no aid to government cowboys playing fast and loose with our freedoms. Just where the hell is all this heading?
joel wiley 7
It is called 'probable cause'. Which translates to "it's Probable that we can do this 'Cause we want to, and there ain't nobody that can stop us".

I believe there is a flaw in that logic.
canuck44 6
Searching is one thing...but we have witnessed active penetration of private computers by government. I really don't want the government inserting keystroke trackers in my computer while pretending to search it.

[This poster has been suspended.]

Probably. Already getting the vehicles ECM and your cell phone when there is a wreck if they want it. Just one step away.

[This poster has been suspended.]

Ken Lane 1
I'm in a heap of trouble. I have three cell phones and two land lines.
Jason Feldman 3
I miss the way I felt when I was a kid- when policemen were noble, the government was ALWAYS working in my best interest, and that this was the land of the free and home of the brave. I love this nation with all my heart and it hurts so much to know that the land of opportunity and freedom is turning into something I am afraid of. Sure, now we find out that the US government lies to get into wars (WW2, Vietnam, etc)- I want this country to be everything it can be - and THAT is worth fighting for.

Our government subjecting us all to illegal search and seizure, the passage of non patriotic laws like the patriot act - those victimize us more than any terrorist ever could... we need to work together to let those in DC, state and local governments know that we do not want 100 percent safety at the cost of our freedoms.. and that we are willing to deal with terrorists more than we are willing to have our freedoms stripped away.
BC Hadley 2
I fear this isn't about safety at all, but something more sinister and contrary to the American way of life.
Dennis Harper 3
How about data sniffing dogs?
Paul Thomas 2
Makes sense, because if I had naughty stuff on my laptop, there'd be no other way to get it in or out of the US other than physically transporting it on my hard drive.
Ric Wernicke 3
Even Americans do not have the rights codified in the Bill of Rights at the border. That is the way it should be. You are not secure in your "person or papers" when crossing a border. Extending the right to search at the border to electronic equipment is a natural progression as our "papers" have turned into data files.

The application of the duties of government at the border is where it all falls apart. The people at the crossing take great liberties with their charge to protect the US from harm. With essentially unchecked power people will become corrupt, and the Homeland Security has little in the way of checks and balances to guard against corruption of individuals.

There is a work around for those that need to carry devices across borders. Don't have the data on the device. Use the cloud to hold the data, and cross with devices that are blank slates. You can also mirror a copy of the device and check your device against the mirror when it is returned to you for any changes made by authorities.
joel wiley 5
I'm not sanguine about the inherent security of the cloud. The person doing a hand-carry of their data may well have reason to have similar concerns. With the the revelations about NSA tactics (so far), such concerns might be prudent.

You are correct in that our rights end at the borders of our jurisdiction.
joel wiley 1
If anyone is interested in a little light reading, this is one link to the judge's decision.
Aside from things like 'Plaintiffs must be drinking the Kool-aid...",

The judge points out that the Fourth Amendment’s balance of reasonableness is qualitatively different at the international border than in the interior.

just food for thought.
randomguy 1
Don't forget the "border" is the area 100 miles from a border.
Frank Morris 1
Want to search my laptop? You buffons better have a court order. Otherwise piss off.
James Carlson 1
This isn't exactly news. Warrantless, suspicionless seizures at the border were upheld as constitutional in 1977 (US v. Ramsey), and have be reaffirmed several times since then. Solution is simple: put the media (disk drives, FLASH) into a padded mailer, and send them ahead to your destination. It's a bit annoying, to be sure, and makes the whole "you can now use your electronic devices on board" somewhat pointless, but if you care at all about your data, it's what you have to do.
Or just stay home. Your call. :-/
James Carlin 1
Dont they already have the ability to search whatever they want upon arrival from an international destination? What is the difference in my computer and my bags?
randomguy 1
They're also allowed to *copy* the hard drive in your computer. And/or confiscate and keep your computer for quite awhile.
George Rafael 1
One shoe bomber = taking off shoes at security forever. One underwear bomber = nothing. Seems the Department of Homeland Hypocrisy will find a reason to collect $Billions from the nation and continue to mong fear in exchange.
Mark Richards 1
What sort of law school trained this judge? Was he educated in the Phillipines?

“there is not a substantial risk that their electronic devices will be subject to a search or seizure without reasonable suspicion.”

Faulty. The constraint of the Fourth Amendment cannot be diluted through any such extrapolation. And what constitutes "substantial risk"? Who decides that? What nonsense!

Reasonable suspicion is cited. This is a far weaker standard than probable cause and in no way justifies a search. Reasonable suspicion is the first step and permits a "stop and frisk", where the stop is to test the reasonable suspicion and the frisk is to make certain that the individual is not an immediate physical threat: "The officer at the border had reasonable suspicion to believe the US citizen was smuggling contraband as the citizen appeared nervous during the routine border inquiry. Therefore the citizen was temporarily detained and refused to allow his vehicle and bags to be searched. This raised the encounter to the level of probable cause, and therefore a search warrant based on the facts was sought."

If the border patrol or any other government agency wants to search, get a warrant.

No playing Guantanamo at the border.
James Carlson 2
Oh, and before anyone faults the present administration: he was appointed by Reagan.
ToddBaldwin3 1
Thank you for pointing that out.
James Carlson 1
I agree with you that the situation is horrible, but flaming the judge in this case probably is not going to help. There is a well-known exception to the 4th Amendment which applies to border crossings. Sorry, neither warrant nor individualized suspicion are needed at all for a search:

It's a sad thing, but it's by no means new and has deep roots in the law. It'll take much more than just a public outcry to change this.
Mark Richards 1
There are no exceptions to the Constitution. There are amendments. Otherwise it's administrative and political tinkering.

Perhaps if enough insist that the 4th Amendment must apply, and sue or otherwise protest, something will be done.

But, I doubt much will be achieved in law if the level of appreciation for the Constitution is similar to that demonstrated in this case.
Ken Lane 1
Ever since the ruling that LEAs can collect DNA without conviction and/or a court order, I lost faith in any effort in continued liberty. And the odd part was it was upheld largely by "conservatives" and the liberal justices dissented.

The Framers are rolling in their graves.
Richard Jones 1
Your rights have slightly changed because of our sick society members. Get used to change, and please write your congressman a letter stating how you have a better way to control terriost. I know I'm always open to good ideas that won't tax society.
blueashflyer 1
"Your papers are not in order..."<stiff rooskie accent>

[This poster has been suspended.]

We asked for it. Freebies ain't free.
David Griffith -1
By the way it is not just at the border but within 100 miles of the border. Did the judge figure out how many people that would include?


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