Getting Prepared For The Philippines > Laws, Regulations, Taxes as Applied to Foreigners

USA Feds can now search electronics without cause

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Since many of us travel to and from our native countries I thought some here might wish to know this.  Can you say Police State?    Kev ...

http://www.chron. com/disp/ story.mpl/ chronicle/ 5918770.html

Feds can search laptops without reason at airports
By ELLEN NAKASHIMA Washington Post
Aug. 1, 2008, 12:12AM
WASHINGTON — 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.

DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies — which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens — are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

Civil liberties and business travel groups have pressed the government to disclose its procedures as an increasing number of international travelers have reported that their laptops, cellphones and other digital devices have been taken — for months, in at least one case — and their contents examined.

The policies state that officers can \"review and analyze information\" in the traveler\'s laptop \"absent individualized suspicion,\" and that the laptops and other devices are to be returned \"in a reasonable period of time.\"

The policies cover \"any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,\" including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover \"all papers and other written documentation, \" including books, pamphlets and \"written materials commonly referred to as \'pocket trash\' or \'pocket litter.\' \"

Reasonable measures must be taken to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material, the policies say,

but there is no specific mention of the handling of personal data such as medical and financial records.

When a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information, any copies of the data must be destroyed. Copies sent to non-federal entities must be returned to DHS. But the documents specify that there is no limitation on authorities keeping written notes or reports about the materials.

\"They\'re saying they can rifle through all the information in a traveler\'s laptop without having a smidgeon of evidence that the traveler is breaking the law,\" said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Notably, he said, the policies \"don\'t establish any criteria for whose computer can be searched.\"

Customs Deputy Commissioner Jayson Ahern said the efforts \"do not infringe on Americans\' privacy.\" In a statement submitted to Feingold for a June hearing on the issue, he noted that the executive branch has long had \"plenary authority to conduct routine searches and seizures at the border without probable cause or a warrant\" to prevent drugs and other contraband from entering the country.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff wrote in an opinion piece published last month in USA Today that \"the most dangerous contraband is often contained in laptop computers or other electronic devices.\" Searches have uncovered \"violent jihadist materials\" as well as images of child pornography, he wrote.

With about 400 million travelers entering the country each year, \"as a practical matter, travelers only go to secondary (for a more thorough examination) when there is some level of suspicion,\" Chertoff wrote. \"Yet legislation locking in a particular standard for searches would have a dangerous, chilling effect as officers\' often split-second assessments are second-guessed. \"

In April, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld the government\'s power to conduct searches of an international traveler\'s laptop without suspicion of wrongdoing. The Customs policy can be viewed at: http://www.cbp. gov/linkhandler/ cgov/travel/ admissability/ search—authori ty.ctt/search—authority.pdf.

steveinvisayas:
Back in November when returning from vacation in Cebu/Mindanao I got put through this in San Francisco Int\'l by Dept of Homeland Security \"before\" this ruling came down. Any single man was getting pulled over and computer searched, bags checked. Feds said they were looking for child porn and \"Philippines is bad for this\". They did quite a bit of questioning about my stay but found nothing amiss and let me go.

Land of the free? Not really,

Steve

Steve & Myrlita:
This stuff is really starting to scare me. Since 9/11 and the Patriot Act, they no longer need reason or warrants to search you and your private belongings. What ever happened to the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures? There have even been recent reports of open strip searches in some US airports by TSA and will be denied boarding or even arrested if you protest in any way. One woman was protesting the rough handling of her possessions by TSA and was thrown down to the floor and cuffed. I\'ll bet you that the founding fathers are spinning in their graves right about now. We\'ve lost our most basic rights which they have fought and died for to a police state administration disguised as security. I suppose I will be arrested for typing this when I do return to the US for a visit for bad mouthing the government. We will see....

EDIT: I forgot to add...
When I got here almost a year ago, I discovered my DVD recorder was stripped apart by TSA and damaged. I filed a claim with TSA. Claim denied stating their was no proof TSA caused damage and if they did it\'s the risk you take for better security.

coutts00:
No point in arresting you, that is just more paper work, they will just rescind your citizenship and won\'t let you on the plane in the first place.

BenK:
I know this might be out of place here, but everyone of us who is still a citizen can still do that one little thing that matters, and vote when the time comes. If nothing else, look at it the way I do: I vote, which means I do my part, which means I have every right to b*tch about it, at least until the next election comes.

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