U.S. Policy of Seizing Data at the Border

The U.S. government has published its policy regarding seizing laptops and other devices capable of storing data.

Federal agents may take a traveler’s laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed. Also, officials may share copies of the laptop’s contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption, or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement… DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies — which apply to anyone entering the country, including US citizens — are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism… The policies cover ‘any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,’ including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover ‘all papers and other written documentation,’ including books, pamphlets and ‘written materials commonly referred to as “pocket trash…”

It seems the best thing is to keep encrypted files on a network drive at home, and download the needed encrypted data  after crossing the border.

One thought on “U.S. Policy of Seizing Data at the Border

  1. Wow, I did not even know that they could take all those items. I assume that they have internal procedures to keep this privilege from being abused. However, that makes a good point about a networked drive being used when crossing the border.

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