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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 30, 2008 at 5:58 PM

Rep. Smith introduces bill to block wrongful laptop snooping at the border

Lost in the bailout melee was a bill that U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, introduced Monday to address intrusive and inappropriate laptop snooping by the Border Patrol.

Smith’s statement in the news release:

“The chief responsibility of the United States Government is to protect its citizens, and while doing so it is critical that we do not overshadow the obligation to protect the privacy and rights of Americans. This legislation will provide clear and commonsense legal avenues for the Department of Homeland Security to pursue those who commit crime and wish to do our country harm without infringing on the rights of American citizens. Importantly, it will provide travelers a level of privacy for their computers, digital cameras, cellular telephones and other electronic devices consistent with the Constitution and our nation’s values of liberty.”

Smith said the “Travelers Privacy Protection Act” is in response to a July 16th Homeland Security policy that “allows customs agents to ‘review and analyze’ the contents and files of laptops and other electronic devices for an unspecified period of time ‘absent individualized suspicion.’ ”

The policy came after reports of customs agents forcing people to hand over their laptops or phones “for lengthy periods of time while the devices were searched, and in some cases, contents of the devices copied. Reports have also surfaced that some devices had been confiscated and returned weeks or months later with no explanation.”

We’ll see if he can restore liberty and common sense. In the meantime, here are some tips to protect yourself from suspicionless searches here in the land of the free and the brave.

Comments | More in | Topics: Public policy, Security & privacy

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