Thursday, February 07, 2008

US Customs Seize Data

Following on from my predictions of 17th January for what may happen at border control over here, it seems that the Americans have been going through people's data for a while.

The Washington Post is reporting that customs agents are taking mobile phones, mp3 players and, of course, laptops off people arriving into the USA.

The carriers of the laptops (who aren't necessarily the owners) have to give over login and password information at the very minimum, but often the entire laptop. I would suspect that the US then rips all the information off the laptop and then attempts to see why you're a terrorist.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus (two civil liberties groups in San Francisco) plan to file a lawsuit to force the Government to disclose its policies on border searches, including which rules govern the seizing and copying of the contents of electronic devices.

They also want to know the boundaries for asking travelers about their political views, religious practices and other activities potentially protected by the First Amendment. The question of whether border agents have a right to search electronic devices at all without suspicion of a crime is already under review in the federal courts.

According to the Post, some companies are so wary of laptops being seized for weeks or more that they are now instructing their staff to travel with hard-drives completely empty of data. While there is obviously a risk that their data can be compromised by being collected online (after passing through customs) they assume there's less risk of it falling into the "wrong hands" than if they entrust it to the Government.

So a bit like over here in that respect then.

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