Feeds

ACLU challenges US laptop border searches

Civil liberties assessment still pending

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Privacy campaigners are continuing a legal challenge against random laptop border searches by US customs amid concerns there may be a racial bias in those delayed and inconvenienced by stop and search powers introduced as part of the war on terror.

The ACLU also argues that searches of mobile phones by US border agents in the absence of any reason to be suspicious also pose a unwarranted invasion of privacy while delivering few tangible benefits.

Customs and Border Protection agents searched over 1,500 electronic devices at the US border over a period of nine months between October 2008 and June 2009, according to documents obtained by the ACLU as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and published on Thursday.

The documents also show that customs (CBP) agents forwarded electronic files found on travelers' devices to other agencies almost 300 times.

Some of the travelers inconvenienced by these searches complained that they ceaselessly accused of wrongdoing or otherwise embarrassed or inconvenienced by the searches, which agents are not obliged to justify under tightened regulations in force since July 2008. The policy was started by the Bush administration and continued by the Obama government.

THE ACLU is concerned that travelers have been left unable to carry medical records, financial information, and photos when they travel without the possibility of government inspection for no good reason.

"The CBP's ability to take and view the personal files of anyone passing through U.S. borders without any suspicion not only presents an inconvenience to travelers, but also fails to protect sensitive personal information that is commonly stored in laptops and cell phones," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. "Fundamental constitutional problems with this policy exist, and must be addressed."

"The government has a legitimate interest in searching electronic devices where there is individualized suspicion of wrongdoing, but CBP's policy allows officials to exercise their power arbitrarily," she added.

The ACLU is concerned there may be an element of racial profiling in those selected for data searches. CBP promised to issue a civil liberties assessment of the policy within six months but failed to make that deadline and is yet to issue a report. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.