David Kirkpatrick

September 4, 2009

Homeland Security, borders and electronics

I’m no fan of the bureaucratic mess that is the Department of Homeland Security. I”ve always maintained we had a great security apparatus in place before 9/11, it was simply misused. The DHS? More politicized and certainly no better, and almost more certainly much worse, than the pre-9/11 FBI, CIA, NSA, et.al.

This particular outrage has bothered me for a long time. I don’t think I’ve blogged about it before and it is a massive privacy violation that every American should know about.

From the second link:

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security made it clear that border crossing officials could continue to search any device that can store electronic media without any suspicion of wrongdoing.

Although the revised policy ensures searches will be completed in a “timely manner” (up to 30 days) and that travelers will stay informed about the search’s progress, travelers crossing the border might want to consider a few things.

Officials can still seize any device (including MP3 players or flash drives) and look at any file on it (including Internet browsing history) without giving any reason.

Click here to find out more!

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) believes agents take laptops, make an image of the hard drive and then return the laptop to its owner in the mail. Any copied files could be stored “indefinitely.” (Imagine what the Border Patrol’s iTunes Library will look like after “indefinitely” storing DRM-free music from several dozen searches.) The ACLU is also taking a dim view of the DHS policy, and is challenging it in court.