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?
Via:  News.com

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