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Monday, August 11, 2008

Op-ed: Laptop seizures - hello, Fourth Amendment?

For at least the last six years, federal border agents have been taking travelers' laptop computers away from them to be searched without any evidence of the travelers' wrongdoing. Border officials have been able to share copies of the laptops' contents with other agencies - and to prosecute travelers for crimes based on what they've found on the illegally searched and seized computers.

Anyone's computer (or flash drive, hard drive, iPod, cell phone or pager) can be seized, and has been seized. According to a recent survey by the Association of Corporate Travelers, 7 percent of business travelers report having their laptops searched by the federal government. One of the reasons why the public is finally learning about this program is that businesses were starting to get worried about their trade secrets leaking out to rivals. It's an unfortunate way to learn about this infringement upon our Fourth Amendment rights. [Link]

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