EFF and chums sue Feds over border laptop inspections
Throws Freedom of Information book at 'em
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. ®
"Customs agents in just about every country have the right to inspect your baggage when you enter and leave the country; they don't require probable cause or a warrant of any sort."
Baggage yes, phone: No. Except when it off. Nor computer except as a mechanic baggage. They don't have access to your papery calendar or phone book either.
No matter how many false analogies you make up. Customs don't have any authority to your personal data over that in the passport. Nor should they have.
If you don't see the difference, then you are so brainwashed that the difference is impossible to explain.
@Comments on CNN website
Interesting to note - "not all comments may show for this article" when you submit them to the CNN website...
A lot of the "its OK" posts on that article use "only bad people have anything to hide." I CANNOT BELIEVE this is still a "valid" reasoning, even for sheeple.
If you have nothing to hide, why do you close your curtains at night? Why keep your vehicle registration in your glovebox instead of taped inside your windshield? Why not have your full name on your mailbox with full names of all residents at your house/apt/condo? Why not let the government install a program to keep your computer "safe"... and monitor where you are and what you do all the time while they "protect you" - you can never be a suspect if they know everything about you and what you do, right? Right?
"You have nothing to worry about if you let us manipulate, uh... monitor, er... protect, YEAH, PROTECT you" - Govt.
Remember that every person who has fought to "protect our freedoms" and "secure our way of life"... the subject of all those yellow "support our troops" ribbons, dying for corporate America's interests... are "potential suspects" every time the FBI runs a fingerprint scan... as they are added upon enlistment BY LAW...
Govt is still "for the People", just not "by the People"... It is "Government by Paid-for Proxy, for the People, by Corporations"
Will the economy will fall and put us all under the "mercy" of the Govt before people who care about living a life without a government or corporate handout have a chance to rally any real opposition to this?
Yeah, I'm the one with the small horde of silver bullion (gold bullion is illegal in the US for private citizens to own and subject to confiscation, didn't you know?), food and "etc" in my "hunting cabin" next to a 1/2 acre garden. If you are not already prepared, it may be too late for you. Nutcase? Sure, call me what you like to sleep better at night on your govt issued cot in a converted sports arena...
Good grief... should this get a "Get my coat" icon? "Flamebait"? Nope - Skull & Crossbones, baby - the last flag of True Freedom left in some places of the world...
@Who would want to devalue the "Almighty' Dollar?
Even without referencing any conspiracy theory or twit, it doesn't matter who would want to do it - there are too many to list.
The problem is that we are following a path ("hey - nice garden... why are we in this hand basket?") that was set years ago when we had greedy lobbyists and politicians decide to make use of an "opportunity" that presented itself on fine September morning...
Unintended consequences are always going to be the fodder of theorists and the bread and butter of corporations.