Feeds

EFF and chums sue Feds over border laptop inspections

Throws Freedom of Information book at 'em

High performance access to file storage

Two civil rights watchdogs today filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Homeland Security after a number of travellers complained that their laptops, mobile phones and other electronic devices had been excessively screened at border entry points.

Internet watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation and civil liberty group Asian Law Caucus (ALC) brought the suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The lawsuit (pdf), which was filed in the US District Court in San Francisco, calls for the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unit of the DHS to cough up records that detail the "questioning, search and inspection" methods used on travellers who enter or return to the US through a number of ports.

The two lobby groups said they were prompted to act following more than 20 complaints by Californian citizens and residents, who told the ALC that they had been unduly harassed by CBP agents.

According to the EFF, US citizen Amir Khan – an IT consultant working in Fremont, California – has been stopped every time he returns to the country from travels abroad.

He claimed that custom officials searched his laptop, books, personal notebooks and mobile phone. Khan also said that he has been held for questioning for more than 20 hours.

Other individuals made similar complaints as well as saying that the agency had grilled them about their religious practices, families, political beliefs and other activities on their return to the US from travels abroad.

The lawsuit follows the DHS's failure to meet the 20-day time limit that Congress had set for responding to public information requests, said the EFF.

The group's staff attorney Marcia Hofmann said in a statement: "The public has the right to know what the government's standards are for border searches. Laptops, phones, and other gadgets include vast amounts of personal information.

"When will agents read your email? When do they copy data, where is it stored, and for how long? How will this information follow you throughout your life? The secrecy surrounding border search policies means that DHS has no accountability to America's travellers."

The CBP, which was not available for comment at time of writing, opened a new FOIA office in October last year under the Office of International Trade with the aim of improving agency disclosure of information. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.