From the Washington Post:
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 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.’ "
We have known for some time that the border agents have the authority to search a laptop without probable cause and as part of the routine border inspection. But the detention, for an unspecified period of time, without any suspicion or probable cause may raise some eyebrows, especially from business travelers, who often carry not only a laptop full of confidential company information, but also flash drives (encrypted or otherwise), cell phones, Blackberries (often with sensitive information) or even sensitive company plans printed on paper.
Attorneys who travel internationally are also concerned by the new revelation - confidential and sensitive client information is often stored on mobile devices, and the detention, discovery and sharing of such information may have devastating consequences for a client’s case or the confidentiality of such information.
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