Data Privacy At The US Border Erodes Further

The Washington Post recently reported on the further erosion of the privacy of your laptop’s data when crossing the border in an article titled Travelers’ Laptops May Be Detained At Border. This is a new policy as of July 16, 2008.

Unfortunately, the privacy measures mentioned in the previous SugerGeekery post, Traveling Through US Customs? Your Data Is Not Safe, are being proven less effective than previously reported according to recent research, according to CNET. Basically, don’t take anything across the border that you don’t feel comfortable having anyone see, including private business data. (Has your company asked you to sign a confidentiality agreement? Many do.)

Here’s an excerpt from the new Washington Post article:

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, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“The policies . . . are truly alarming,” said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government’s border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

I was unable to find this information mentioned on the Homeland Security web site. You can find it on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection site in a PDF here. Have strong feeling about it? If you are a US citizen, please write your elected officials and share your thoughts.



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