Airport searches of laptops and other devices are intrusive

Posted on February 11, 2008

0


By Jeanne Meserve
CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Amir Khan says he becomes frustrated and humiliated every time he enters the United States and federal agents search his computers. Khan, a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, says it has happened five times since 2003.

He says agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection have even forced him to give them access to password-protected, confidential information from his company and his banking records.

An IT consultant who travels to Europe, Turkey and Pakistan, Khan says he has cooperated with the questions and searches, but feels by now border agents should know he doesn’t pose a threat.

Situations for travelers such as Khan are at issue in a lawsuit filed last week by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The suit accuses customs agents of “lengthy questioning and intrusive searches” and seeks clarification on the law that allows such searches.

The San Francisco, California-based foundation, which works to defend people’s rights in the digital world, says it knows of more than a dozen cases in which electronic devices such as cell phones, BlackBerries, MP3 players and laptops have been searched by customs agents. In some cases, they have been confiscated and never returned. VideoWatch cyber searches at airports »

“Plaintiffs seek agency records in order to determine what policies and procedures exist governing CBP’s questioning and searches of individuals at the nation’s ports of entry,” the suit says.

The Customs and Border Protection defends the searches, saying the agency does not need to show probable cause to look inside suitcases or laptops. [more]

Please click here to reach the remainder of the article.

Advertisements