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Appeals Court Affirms Warrantless Computer Searches

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the those-amendment-things-are-optional dept.

Government 390

suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from ComputerWorld: "Laptop computers and other digital devices carried into the US may be seized from travelers without a warrant and sent to a secondary site for forensic inspection, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled last week. The ruling is the second in less than a year that allows the US government to conduct warrantless, offsite searches of digital devices seized at the country's borders. A federal court in Michigan last May issued a similar ruling in a case challenging the constitutionality of the warrantless seizure of a computer at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Several other courts, including the Ninth Circuit itself, have ruled that warrantless, suspicion-less searches of laptops and other digital devices can take place at US border locations."

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390 comments

"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (4, Interesting)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759694)

"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy

"We had your laptop searched for no reason, we never suspected you of doing anything wrong..."

This way, nobody could ever complain of discriminatory treatment based on race, nationality, religion, etc.

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (3, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759762)

Detroit is in the Constitution-Free Zone [aclu.org] , so this isn't much of a surprise. It's sad what we threw away in the War on Drugs, and will of course perpetuate in the Wars on Whatever's Handy.

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (2)

WhirlwindMonk (1975382) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759942)

Am I blind, or does that map not actually give any information about what rights people in those zones do not have?

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759990)

You're blind. It gives one piece of information: people that live in those zones do not have full constitutional protection.

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760060)

It gives no information.

This does:

http://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/fact-sheet-us-constitution-free-zone

Basically, 99% of Californians are considered to be living "on the border", which is crazy.

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (1)

WhirlwindMonk (1975382) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760102)

Thank you! Good read, since I live in Michigan.

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (2)

gfreeman (456642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760080)

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760156)

Yeah, posting the map alone is rather nonsense. If I remember correctly, it's the zone US custom says they can still halt you and search your luggage and vehicle for customs, without any warrant, or at least the ACLU's interpretation of it.

In practice, I suspect it's 100 miles from a land border - not the whole west and east coast - and they will probably have seen you cross the border and sent a patrol out to search you. But in a literal reading of the law, neither is a requirement. In principle they can search you for customs even if you've never been closer than 99.9 miles from the border on mere suspicion.

No, you see it. (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760326)

There are no rights in those zones. Those zones will be growing to encompass the entire country, soon.

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759948)

Well, unless you haven't done something that isn't wrong. You should have nothing to fear from a suspicion-less search.

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (1)

majestic_twelve (2034368) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760184)

Does anyone know if by "search" they can, for example, remove the hard drive, otherwise dismantle the device to get to memory chips, etc?

Re:"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy (0)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760332)

"Suspicion-less searches" comes in handy

"We had your laptop searched for no reason, we never suspected you of doing anything wrong..."

This way, nobody could ever complain of discriminatory treatment based on race, nationality, religion, etc.

If you read TFA, the guy was a REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER in California according to TSA records. That gave them reason to believe he may have had contraband files on his PC, especially after they found many files were encrypted (another red flag). This wasn't some joe-blow they picked at random.

What is the purpose exactly? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759720)

What could you possibly find on a computer that couldn't also be transfered digitally over the internet using encryption?

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (4, Insightful)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759788)

You would be surprised how many non-slashdotters do not think of it. Do not assume that because it is obvious to you it is to everybody.

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759914)

That's okay. In five years, computers will probably be shipping with full disk encryption enabled by default anyway. The risk of data theft and identity theft from unencrypted laptops walking away is simply too great.

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760004)

...at which point they'll pass a law making it a crime.

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (2)

Lulfas (1140109) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760092)

Easier to require a government accessible back door. To stop the terrorists.

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760218)

so? make an image, expose it to a super computer and brute force your way in. it's not like battlefield communications where real time is a big plus. in this case if it takes you a month you will still get evidence from it

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760312)

Ok, just for the sake of argument, lets say it will only take you a month to crack the encryption of a single laptop.

How many laptops did you put into storage while waiting for the first to finish processing?

how many additional laptops will you put into storage waiting for all of those laptops to be processed?

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (5, Interesting)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760342)

It's not always that easy. The Brazilian authorities enlisted the aid of the FBI in cracking the encryption on the hard drive of banker Daniel Dantas, who was suspected of money laundering and attempting to bribe law enforcement. Despite five months of work by Brazil and about twelve months by the FBI, they couldn't get into his drives protected by TrueCrypt using AES-256 and good, long passwords. He was eventually sentenced to ten years in prison, but only on the bribery charges. The money laundering case couldn't proceed without the data on the drives.

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759984)

I spose the ultimate would be a dual encryption method so that with one password it decrytps and makes sense but is worthless but with the correct password it is a lot more useful and the actual info you are protecting from prying eye's there has got to be a way of doing this ..

   

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760078)

What could you possibly find on a computer that couldn't also be transfered digitally over the internet using encryption?

Cum stains.

NSA gets a copy. (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760086)

From a Nova TV show the NSA gets a copy of all the data coming into and out of the US at the border routers.

Re:What is the purpose exactly? (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760094)

Over several intermediary servers, any one of which could be compromised knowingly or unknowingly. BRILLIANT!

I've always said there is nothing like freedom... (1)

unil_1005 (1790334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759734)

...and that's more true every day.

Re:I've always said there is nothing like freedom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760238)

America, the land of the "free!"

winning the war on tourism (3, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759758)

I would not believe this if I were not seeing it.

Re:winning the war on tourism (3, Insightful)

jvillain (546827) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759876)

I live just a couple of miles north of the US border and refuse to cross the border due to how much personal information I have to surrender and the fact that non-Americans no longer have any legal protections against unreasonable any thing. So yes my tourist dollars are going any where but the US. But I hear your economy is doing fine you don't need to worry about trivial things like jobs.

trivial things like jobs. (0)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759940)

or health care.

Re:winning the war on tourism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759970)

If it makes you feel any better, my understanding is that Americans don't have any more legal protection from this sort of thing (i.e. when crossing the border) than you do.

Still, if it weren't for Jean Chretien more or less giving the finger to the U.S. after 9/11, Canadians at least would still be able to cross the border relatively hassle-free. So you can thank our once and future Liberal overlords for that.

Re:winning the war on tourism (1)

gfreeman (456642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760112)

Harpertroll is trolling

Re:winning the war on tourism (0)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760198)

So hard, so bitter. Maybe you could have been actively involved in politics, and we wouldn't be facing an election. Ah the good old 'election on nothing' pushed by Iggy because he thinks it's a good time. It won't turn out well for the libs, especially considering his pro-bloc leaning.

they don't even check for laptops or ask about the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760026)

they don't even check for laptops or ask about them at the boarder when you drive though

Re:they don't even check for laptops or ask about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760190)

But they can.

Re:winning the war on tourism (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760300)

You're supposed to cover your eyes, and put your fingers in your ears at the same time. Why are you looking citizen? Get back to work!

For Better or for worse (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759770)

How does this differ from warrant-less searches of anything else when crossing US Borders (pockets, glove box, trunk, luggage, etc)?

Re:For Better or for worse (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759832)

Did you miss the part about the devices being shipped to a secondary site for forensic examination? This isn't just going through your trunk while you stand there, this is depriving you of your property for an unknown length of time.

Re:For Better or for worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760174)

Not to mention access to any and all private or protected data. The cursory boot up search to insure the thing isn't a bomb etc is one thing, this goes way beyond that.

Re:For Better or for worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759854)

Do they seize your luggage, contents of pockets, etc. with the promise of returning them weeks, months, years later after they're done with them?

Re:For Better or for worse (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760270)

You can't carry a gun or drugs in your laptop.

if you're traveling with a laptop... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759772)

If you are traveling with a laptop, why on earth wouldn't you be using full disk encryption? It seems like you'd want that for plenty of other reasons too, like to protect your data in the event of theft of the laptop. And this full disk encryption would also protect against such "inspections".

It's 2011, not 1991.

Re:if you're traveling with a laptop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759814)

only terrorists need encryption

Re:if you're traveling with a laptop... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759958)

If you're traveling with a laptop, you need to have your laptop at your destination. How does full-disk encryption help when your laptop is seized and sent away for cryptanalysis?

The only thing you can do is to have a virgin OS image, show it to the border thug, and hope he doesn't want to fill out any more paperwork than necessary. Then at your destination, download your working OS image over VPN.

Of course, if your computer leaves your sight at any time, you have to assume that there's a key logger on it, and can't be used for anything secure.

Chrome OS Anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759782)

I wonder how this will play into the current trend for more cloud based computing. Can you be compelled to give out your passwords to your servers if your computer is seized and searched? I could see Chrome OS getting very popular among anyone who needs to take a laptop across boarders who doesn't want Uncle Sam to see their illegal/private/sensitive data.

Re:Chrome OS Anyone? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759820)

You simply won't get your computer back or won't be let in the country.

Does this bother any other travellers? (3, Interesting)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759794)

I travel with a laptop for remote access to business stuff, even on holidays (emergencies only, of course). Because of travel to the USA I've specifically bought a EEE that could be confiscated without too much out of pocket expense, but it's a real pain to operate some things on the tiny 10" screen instead of my purpose-bought Dell.

Does this seriously bother any other /.-ers? Having to double my personal hardware just to accommodate US travel is a pain in the ass for the overwhelming number of legitimate travelers, and there's nothing that couldn't get-into/leave the country via the internet anyway. Seems like there's no benefit at all to this nonsense.

-Matt

Re:Does this bother any other travellers? (4, Insightful)

Corporate T00l (244210) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759894)

I travel internationally frequently on business as do many of my friends and colleges. Of the over 50 total trips I'm aware of my circle of acquaintances taking, never once has anyone been stopped for a warrantless computer search. While there are certainly personal liberty concerns related to presumption of guilt/innocence or guilt by association, the practical reality is that unless you're a friend of Julian Assange, you're not likely to ever encounter this.

And even this friend of Julian Assange was not forced to divulge his encryption key and had his laptop returned. (http://randomchaos.us/hacking/another-hacker%E2%80%99s-laptop-cell-phones-searched-at-border.html)

So if you are concerned about the potential of these searches, encryption may be a more practical way to feel safer.

Re:Does this bother any other travellers? (1, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759944)

Just have it shipped to your hotel before you arrive. Notify the hotel to expect a package and hold it for you and you shouldn't have a problem. Which, of course, just goes to show what a ridiculous piece of security theater the whole thing is.

Re:Does this bother any other travellers? (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760292)

If they're consistent, that also allows warrantless searches of any postal package - and I think they do. Happened to me once here in Norway, the package had a nice sticker saying opened by customs.

The best option is just to have a clean machine and download everything over the Internet. Last I checked there was no such thing as digital customs. Security theater doesn't even being to cover how silly this is.

Re:Does this bother any other travellers? (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759982)

I have to wonder how many international conferences are no longer awarded to US cities because of this nonsense. But at least we are winning the war on tourism.

Shout it to the heavens (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760120)

every time a site is selected, it should be explicitly pointed out that this is the reason the US was not selected. Be sure to cc the US Chamber of Commerce, and the US Hotel and Airline lobbyists.

Re:Does this bother any other travellers? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760276)

Considering I live ~1.5hrs from 3 major US border points, 2hrs from 5 border points. I consider the entire thing useless, including one point that is unmanned. Traveling to the US is a pain in the ass, I haven't done it in nearly 3 years. Hell traveling to asia and europe is easier. If they don't want my business, or my tourist money that's fine. Because Japan does even if they require biometric data upon entering.

whyyyyy? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759800)

can someone explain what justification they are offering for this decision? besides what seems to be the only obvious answer of simply allowing the law enforcement to do whatever they please?

Re:whyyyyy? (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759910)

As someone else above mentioned it's about this: Constitution Free Zone [aclu.org] . They are basically validating that the Constitution Free Zone pertains to computers/data just as much as it pertains to your pockets, bag, car trunk, etc.

Mind, I don't agree with it and never have but there is a lot of precedence for this. I'd like to see the whole shebang overturned but we're definitely only going to see the digital aspect of it get worse unless all this "close to the border" BS is completely overturned.

Re:whyyyyy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759918)

coz of terrists, duh!

Re:whyyyyy? (1)

davide marney (231845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759922)

I'm guessing the justification would be that inspecting your data is merely the electronic equivalent of searching your possessions and your person.

It is an interesting question: what is the legal status of your data? Is it your "possession"? Can having certain types of data be considered an illegal act? Can possession of data make one dangerous to others?

Re:whyyyyy? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759980)

can someone explain what justification they are offering for this decision? besides what seems to be the only obvious answer of simply allowing the law enforcement to do whatever they please?

I dunno, the official list will have stuff like "obscene materials" (child porn), terrorist activities, and the like.

A reason you won't see is "we want your corporate secrets". Industrial espionage - nothing's better than seeing a competitor crossing hte border, seizing his laptop and sending it off the American company he's competing with. Government aided industrial espionage, at that (not unusual and has happened before).

If you're travelling to the US - clean out your laptop (or have a brand new one with nothing on it other than the basics) and VPN in for all the data, just to prevent it falling into the wrong hands. Your competitors will love to get their hands on your customer lists, your current contracts and other private materials.

Re:whyyyyy? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760056)

can someone explain what justification they are offering for this decision? besides what seems to be the only obvious answer of simply allowing the law enforcement to do whatever they please?

Won't somebody think of the children? Law enforcement needs to be able to stop people from importing kitty porn into the states at the border! Because obviously there is no other way to get data into the US than hand carrying it on a laptop! If you are against having your laptop arbitrarily taken away from you at the border, then you must be in favor of child pornography, you pervert!

Anecdote (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759818)

I work for a subsidiary of a large defence contractor and we've been told via an IT Security Policy announcement never to keep work data locally on our devices (laptops, phones etc.) when crossing any border. We are to connect to the VPN after we get there and download it if we need it. This is even the case if the whole point of going overseas is to demonstrate an a purely IP-based/digital product. This policy was announced at the start of the year, I wonder if it's related.

Eh, so what.. This is what people want (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759828)

Just take a 'traveling' computer on overseas visits. And 'fly casual'. You don't want to attract too much attention. Always give them something. It's like when being robbed, you want to have just enough in your wallet to satisfy the assailant, so he'll leave..

And please, don't think for a second they can't see your 'hidden' partitions. You're only deluding yourselves..

Re:Eh, so what.. This is what people want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759902)

And please, don't think for a second they can't see your 'hidden' partitions. You're only deluding yourselves..

I have no doubt they can see the partitions. They'll never decrypt it, but they can see it.

Re:Eh, so what.. This is what people want (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759986)

Apparently you are unfamiliar with the 'comfortable chair' (rubber hose)..

Re:Eh, so what.. This is what people want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759920)

They can "see" that they exist, but I'll be astonished if they can get past the aes256.

Re:Eh, so what.. This is what people want (1)

pinguwin (807635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760024)

I may not understand truecrypt correctly, but I thought that the hidden partitions showed up as random data, which was not distinguishable from empty space on the outer encrypted partition. So they could say, "Yes, there is 10GB free on this disk, whether it is free or a hidden partition, we can't know." Am I mistaken on this?

Re:Eh, so what.. This is what people want (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760100)

Pretty much. The header is in plain view, but anything encrypted is just random data, decrypted on-the-fly. If you have a hidden volume, there's no way to prove it exists, unless you specifically affirm its existence.

Re:Eh, so what.. This is what people want (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760046)

Truecypt: They may suspect something's there, but
a) It's plausibly deniable due to how a Truecrypt volume masks itself
b) If you're carrying something important enough to warrant the use of the USAF PS3 cluster to try and bruteforce the encryption, and you're carrying it on your laptop, you deserve to have that encryption broken for being criminally stupid.

Easy answer .... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759838)

I will be continuing my policy of not traveling to America.

I think every other country should start confiscating the laptops and electronics of US citizens -- let's see how long it takes before they start whining about how unfair it is.

Fuck you Amerika.

Re:Easy answer .... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759890)

Great decision. Win-win for everybody. You don't want to come here, and we don't want you here.

Re:Easy answer .... (1)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760032)

The same rules apply to US citizens crossing the border into their own country. And no, we aren't fans of it either.

So, basically (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759852)

If you have to travel outside the US, make use of FTP, webmail, etc to move your sensitive data. And own a cheapass laptop that you don't mind getting confiscated.

Re:So, basically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759926)

You could also take the disk out of the laptop, pack it in your checked luggage, and reinstall it back in the laptop when you get to your destination (or when you get your luggage back after it was lost).

Re:So, basically (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760040)

If you have to travel outside the US, make use of FTP, webmail, etc to move your sensitive data.

Yeah, cause that's secure.

Re:So, basically (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760124)

SCP and SSH are, though.

Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759864)

We're almost there...

http://www.alternet.org/world/51150/?page=3

If this is Constitutional... (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759866)

Then the Constitution needs to be fixed.

Re:If this is Constitutional... (2)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760194)

Don't worry, it's not, but the Constitution has been deemed a threat to national security and as such has been demoted in level of importance.

Re:If this is Constitutional... (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760320)

Then the Constitution needs to be fixed.

I think your/their constitution has been "fixed" a few too many times already.

you know what the problem is? (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759880)

The problem is people who are still prepared to travel to the USA. You are the ones making this acceptable. You are the ones happy to bring your productivity and your coin into a country which should be ostracised until it stops treating visitors as criminals and returns to something resembling reasonable.

I gave up my business interests in the US following their slow bastardisation of the notion of rights after 2001. I made a personal loss, but I feel all the more human for it. And it serves its purpose. After all, no empire and no regime lasts forever - it will only be a matter of time before things become unbearable and people start standing up en masse. We must start making our stand one by one.

Why aren't you doing the same?

Re:you know what the problem is? (1)

gfreeman (456642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760212)

Oh, but I am. And I agree about the feel more human. Oddly, I've never felt more human since I moved to Canada from the UK. It's not perfect, but I feel I have more of a say and that the politicians are less slimy. Alas, that is changing too though :(

Re:you know what the problem is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760274)

After all, no empire and no regime lasts forever - it will only be a matter of time before things become unbearable and people start standing up en masse.

The Chinese economy will be larger than ours (US) by 2020. At that time, we'll see the Chinese put a carrier right off the coast of Taipei and the US will say, "You can't do that! Or we'll.... You can't do that!" and then send a sternly worded letter to Beijing.

In the meantime, the US is shitting on the rest of the Western hemisphere and basically treating everyone South of the Rio Grande all the way down to Antarctica as Third World human garbage, the rest of the World is developing trade and connections with Mexico, Central and South America and when we finally wake up, we'll be left in the dust begging for the crumbs.

Canada, has developed some wonderful ties with China to the point of shrugging off any threats of trade sanctions by the US (suck it lumber guys) - we're rapidly becoming like an old High School football player who still thinks he's got it.

Hasn't this kind of search always been legal? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759884)

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but before we all start quoting 1984...hasn't this kind of search always been legal in the United States?

"That searches made at the border, pursuant to the longstanding right of the sovereign to protect itself by stopping and examining persons and property crossing into this country, are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border, should, by now, require no extended demonstration...Authorized by the First Congress (1789)"

http://law.onecle.com/constitution/amendment-04/18-border-searches.html

Re:Hasn't this kind of search always been legal? (1)

Mr. McGibby (41471) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760128)

Yes, but for data, it doesn't seem to make much sense since the same search doesn't occur for data that travels over the border. All I have to do is wipe my drive before I enter, then pull the data over the net later. Just because it's legal, doesn't mean it makes any sense.

Slope continues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35759888)

This guy may have been bad, but this ruling is just another step on the slope. CIA must love this though now they can target\flag interesting folks upon reentry to get a look at any data they want.

Seriously off course! (1)

Raymo1357 (1882546) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759900)

This is just wrong. The Declaration of Independence says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It doesn't say "citizens", it says "men". The history buffs will remind me that the Declaration is not law, but we are straying pretty far from fundamental principals that were the bedrock of our country. Should the government be allowed to do this with H1B visa recipients? Folks trying to establish citizenship legally? The best way to avoid this quicksand is to never start getting into it!

Re:Seriously off course! (2)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760222)

"The Declaration of Independence" is a letter to the King of England. Telling him we will not pay tax on your tea :) The Constitution is law.

PS. In this context, and in the passing of time, we have learned
Men == Women Lets not start all that...

What else could they take? (1)

softWare3ngineer (2007302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759904)

does this mean they can take all of my luggage for no reason at all. The government needs to stop making rulings about digital ownership and the ownership of the physical hardware that is my laptop, just because it is convenient way to not give me the rights that i deserve. guess we will all have to run VM's and switch to thin client laptops. can't wait for the excuse for that one.

Re:What else could they take? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760192)

...does this mean they can take all of my luggage for no reason at all?

Why not? The airlines have been doing that for years!

Personally... (1, Insightful)

the_one_wesp (1785252) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759962)

I don't have an issue with Constitutional rights being restricted for those who are registered criminals. They broke the law, proved their untrustworthiness and now are having to contend with that... it's called consequences. However, there ARE no such clauses in the Constitution and until such exist this is unreasonable search and seizure, regardless of who the man is, what he's done and what they've found.

Yeah? You can be personally searched too (1)

Beve Jates (1393457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759964)

You can be stopped and searched anywhere within x number (I forget how many) miles of any US border.

Just try to not get stopped while traveling down near Mexico. There are road blocks, checkpoints, etc. where they can and will search your stuff, question you, etc. All without any suspicion of anything. Search Youtube for videos of confrontation between US citizens and the police in these areas.

I don't see why electronic equipment would be any different.

Hmm... (2)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35759978)

"Warrantless" may be necessary; the alternative is to detain people and their laptop for as long as it takes to get a warrant. "Suspicion-less" I have a real problem with; this sounds like an open invitation for agents to exercise their personal prejudices and punish anyone who doesn't kiss their ass. If you are going to confiscate something, you should as least be able to clearly state a reason for doing so.

It's all in the cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760002)

Compress, encrypt, store in cloud, wipe with NSA quality shredding software all sensitive information from laptop, tablet, and cellphone before travel. Get to destinaltion. Download and reinstall such information on appropriate device(s). Anyone who is REALLY concerned about border searches, would be doing this already. So, only the stupid or careless get apprehended with inappropriate information on their mobile devices. Sounds like Darwin at work to me...

Re:It's all in the cloud (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760122)

So, only the stupid or careless get apprehended with inappropriate information on their mobile devices. Sounds like Darwin at work to me...

This isn't about being stupid or careless and getting apprehended with inappropriate/illegal information.

This is about them being able to confiscate your laptop, digital camera, phone, and pretty much damned near anything ... on a whim, without suspicion, and without recourse.

Some jackass of a border guard who is having a bad day or doesn't like my haircut can decide to basically appropriate my laptop and anything else he pleases, on a whim, with no grounds, warrant, suspicion, or defensible reason.

If you think that's Darwinism, you're a fool. If you think this is the sign of a free society, you're a bigger fool. This smacks more of banana republics and the stereotype of "papers please" and other crap from the Communist Bloc countries in the 80s.

Re:It's all in the cloud (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760144)

Right, because cloud storage is so secure! [howstuffworks.com]

The Great Wall of America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760044)

Just got a whole lot higher.
As someone who has visited the US more than 50 times since 1975 and spending more than 20 years working for a US Company, I have the greatest respect for its people. However the
things that various administrations are doing to your image & reputation abroad is not enticing me to visit anymore.
I went to central america last fall. 90% of the flights were routed via Miami. I was stuck as this was a trip that came about with no
notice (A family bereavement). The result was that I couldn't fly via Miami. I ended up flying to Trinidad and then taking two further
flights to get to my destination.
The next problem I had was that the US wanted a Visa for my dead brother in order to let his coffin pass through Miami.
Now how sick is that.

I paid the extra $1000 to fly him direct to Canada and thence to Europe. PErhaps they would want to conficate his coffin and take it somewhere for further examination as it passed through Miami?

We Lost (1)

transami (202700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760048)

And the Terrorists WON!!!!

Customs Authority (0)

Issildur03 (1173487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760130)

Customs officials need the right to inspect everything that goes through the border - if we are going to have a customs system at all. If a customs official finds a locked box you refuse to open, they should have the right to ship it off to the box-opening facility for further inspection. The case with the laptop is no different.

This, of course, comes in conflict with the desire for privacy. But if you're planning to argue that laptop searches are unconstitutional, you must conclude the same about customs searches in general. Most likely, customs searches are constitutional, or at least there is plenty of judicial precedent claiming so.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying I like the searches, just that they are an inevitable part of the current setup.

Slippery Slope of Convenience... (1)

JakFrost (139885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760226)

In this case, Tallman ruled that such transportation is justified because the forensic tools need to adequately search the computers were located at another facility.

"The border search doctrine is not so rigid as to require the United States to equip every entry point -- no matter how desolate or infrequently traveled -- with inspectors and sophisticated forensic equipment," Tallman said in his ruling.

In situations where "logic and practicality" may require equipment presented at the border to be transported to another location, the government needs to show no "heightened suspicion" to justify it, the court ruled.

Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
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.

The part about searching for obvious contraband is understandable when crossing a border before entry is granted but it appears that all the legal headedness in these district courts suffer from selective ignorance since they ignore the plain language of the Fourth Amendment, especially the "unreasonable" working that is specifically included in it.

Also the key paragraphs of this article and decision deal with the transportation of equipment away from the border. This requires the taking of this equipment away from the person, which steps all over the seizure part since the equipment is taken away from the person.

On top of this "probable cause" is required for search and seizure so that little bit about "no heightened suspicion" is pure bullshit.

I think these Federal Judges need remedial education to go back and re-read the constitution in plain English.

Just saying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760228)

Because bad guys will never get data across the border any other way.

Secure in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35760248)

I thought I was supposed to be "secure in my effects and digital papers from unreasonable search and seizure". I would have thought that since we had a Digital Millenium act that it served to add Digital to that line from the constitution.

Then I woke up and remembered that only corporations and governments get rights these days.

I don't recall the Constitution saying anything (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35760294)

about border search being different from search inside the country.

What it says is

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.

Doesn't even say "citizens". Just says "people". I.e., this whole thing about warrantless border searches is and always has been unconstitutional.

But I don't expect the Alice in Wonderland court to overturn it. They'll just point to the turtles going all the way down and say that's what they've balanced the world on, therefore one more turtle will be fine.

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