DHS Can Now Hold Laptops Indefinitely at Borders - HotHardware
DHS Can Now Hold Laptops Indefinitely at Borders

DHS Can Now Hold Laptops Indefinitely at Borders

You may recall the case of Sebastien Boucher?  He was stopped in 2006 while crossing the U.S. - Canadian border and charged with transporting child pornography on his laptop across the border.  Unfortunately for the prosecutors, the data on the laptop is encrypted, and he now refuses to enter the necessary password to allow access to the files.  Additionally, a judge ruled late last year that he could not be compelled to reveal the password.

Based on this ruling, and the recent policies enacted by the Department of Homeland Security, might we see more interest in disk encryption?

A pair of DHS policies from last month say that customs agents can routinely--as a matter of course--seize, make copies of, and "analyze the information transported by any individual attempting to enter, re-enter, depart, pass through, or reside in the United States." (See policy No. 1 and No. 2.)

DHS claims the border search of electronic information is useful to detect terrorists, drug smugglers, and people violating "copyright or trademark laws." (Readers: Are you sure your iPod and laptop have absolutely no illicitly downloaded songs? You might be guilty of a felony.)

This is a disturbing new policy, and should convince anyone taking a laptop across a border to use encryption to thwart DHS snoops. Encrypt your laptop, with full disk encryption if possible, and power it down before you go through customs.

There appear to be some problems with this suggestion, however:

a) the judge's ruling might be reversed, and you will be out of luck.
b) they might decided to keep your laptop for years, just to annoy since, according to the article, they could.

Naturally, most people would have nothing to hide, but we what if you have some corporate documents on our laptop that we wouldn't want just anyone looking at?  Or something in that vein, not illegal but still private?

These policies were significant enough that the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) brought them to light.  Readers, your two cents?
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In a word, DISGUSTING. So much for protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

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The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 

How can the DHS circumvent our rights as described in the 4th Ammendment in the name of counter-terrorism? Our rights are eroding more and more in this post 9/11 era.

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Those portions of the US Constitution, as amended, which the administration (with the permission and connivance of the Congress) finds inconvenient are no longer operative in the United States. This, at the same time that the US Government pretends to bring «democracy» to certain other countries - most often those with oil or other interesting natural resources - around the world....

Henri

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I blame the U.S. citizens.

We voted and revoted Bush into office. We vote in state representatives who are buyable by the highest bidder and who act in regards to their own self interests instead of what's good for the people.

The NY Times told us all of this in 2002 when the Homeland Security Act was knocking on the door and still we did nothing.

Good post Henri. Yes

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I'm not surprised at all by this. I mean to do an actual examination of the laptop it takes way more time than it takes to boot up the system. problem is how they decide which laptops to confiscate.

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All politicians, by their nature and the nature of the system which elects them, are buyable. When will we (The US0 wake up?) Excellent article btw. Thanks Henri.

Somewhere it is written about "A reasonable expectation of privacy". I would say it's pretty safe to say that if someone decided to store nude pics of themselves and their girfriend/wife/ whatever, that you would reasonably expect them to remain private on your laptop. That may or may not be a smart thing to do, but it isn't unreasonable to expect privacy.

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 well technically they could remain private as long as you don't bring them across the border. It's just like going onto a military base. At any point once your on that base you or anything of yours can be searched without probable cause. So if you don't want it to be searched don't take it through customs. that simple. It's really all how you look at it. Technically your privacy is not violated if they post it ahead of time that it could be searched and you still bring it through then you just volunteered for it to be searched. So the solution is to just mail it.

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There's a big difference between Crossing the border and being on a mlitary base. IMO that is. I'm just having trouble swallowing the lack of probable cause.

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