Border Patrol May Seize Your Laptops

If you happen to travel across the US border for business or pleasure nowadays, be sure to not take any personnel electronic devices, or if you do, you might want to clear out any personal data. Refer to this article from the Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/06/AR2008020604763.html

Border Patrol and Customs officials are increasingly, and randomly seizing laptops, blackberry’s, cell phones, etc. and downloading said devices, asking for passwords to access your personal data, checking to see if you have legal right to Microsoft and other programs, or the music you may be storing. Sometimes the devices are returned, but sometimes they are not.

This is one more example of our government gone terribly wrong. President Bush has cancelled American’s right to privacy and the government does not need warrants to search your personal property. You are completely at the mercy of the good or bad will of bureaucrats.

Governments allow themselves to do this in times of war….But, consider this: Some major politicos have been saying, for some years now, that the war on terror may go on forever.

The US is now ranked with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea at the bottom of the heap when talking about surveillance and freedoms of their citizens. I really miss the old America. Are you missing it yet?

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About the word of me
Interested in family and friends,grandchildren, photography, darkrooms, history, archaeology, scuba diving, computers, software, fast cars, journalism, writing, travel, ecology, news, science, and probably most other subjects you could think of. Did I mention family and friends?? I require iced tea or cold brewed coffee and a internet connection to be fully functional. Sometimes there are just so many words in my head they spill out.

6 Responses to Border Patrol May Seize Your Laptops

  1. Bob Paul says:

    This is not what you’re making it out to be. You NEVER should expect privacy when returning to the US through any port of entry. Bush did not suspend anyone’s rights at the borders. It has always been this way, it’s just that we now need clarification from the courts on how to handle new technology. You also mislead readers by stating that they are checking for digital rights to music and applications but you didn’t cite a source with this info. Well, Customs and Border Protection officials [not Border Patrol and Customs (try to use the proper name next time, it convinces people you’re smart)] are hardly digital piracy experts. In fact, they don’t have that authority. However, I do agree they shouldn’t upload any data from your machine. But you never had a right to privacy at a border to begin with. These laws have been in place for ages. Stay out of trouble and leave your skeletons in the closet AT HOME and give up your cell phone at the border just like you always gave up your purse, wallet, shoes, car, luggage, and person.

  2. thewordofme says:

    Did you even read the Washington Post article?
    Do you know what I’m talking about when I say Border Patrol or Customs?
    I strongly disagree. There is no reason at all for these officials at border points to have to go through laptops, phones, blackberry’s, etc. and like the parts you didn’t read, take the device from you and wipe it’s memory.

    Again from what you didn’t read, some feel that this is invading your mind. People tend to put essay’s or personal thought on some of the devices, and these are just THOUGHTS, and the federal SS troops do not need, or should not have access to them.

    You are quite right, the border agents are not trained in digital rights management, so why have they been reported as taking on that duty?

    You know the federal government is not innocent. They are totally taking advantage of the post 9-11 situation. Go out there and read about it on the net. This administration will go down as one of the most destructive ever to human rights and American freedoms. Totally responsible for many tens of thousands of deaths over and above our losses in the twin towers.

    In the last 4 years people are getting complacent and are not noticing what is being taken away from them. Citizens have a duty to watch, and start bitching when government oversteps it’s bound, as they are surely doing NOW.

    Take your whining, superior attitude and stuff it. Get a clue as to what is happening with our country.

    Do you expect to keep any of the rights we had pre 9-11 or are you just going to put your head down and shuffle off?

  3. Bob Paul says:

    Did you read MY narrative? I understand the thin line between loosing a few rights and then becoming an oppressed population. I also know the difference between Customs and Border Patrol (show me a border patrol agent who inspects *legal* entrants at a port of entry). Now, show me a source that says customs is checking for piracy. Please, understand that I have an excellent working knowlege of these laws and I know that everything is subject to search at a port of entry (until which time a court says that computers are not). People entering the country have never been privy to the freedoms that you and I enjoy in the interior. NEVER. It’s just been brought to your attention recently, that’s all. And as far as one case of a computer being lost and one case of call history being erased out of millions… I’d say those are pretty good odds. Again: you never had full constututional rights at a port of entry, so the incidents stated in the WP article were not caused by this administration (I hate the GOP, btw, so don’t bring it up). As for all that other unsolicited, seperatist crap you were spewing, I don’t care. I came here to talk about the WP article. So I’ll shuffle off, head high, loving my country EVEN MORE if we decide as a whole that our thoughts and activities are protected from the customs agents. But I’m guessing that you’re not going to be very receptive of my response since you used that angry, mislabelling catch phrase “SS troops.” Prove me wrong.

  4. thewordofme says:

    Bob Paul, >>So I’ll shuffle off, head high, loving my country EVEN MORE if we decide as a whole that our THOUGHTS and activities are protected from the customs agents.<<

    Do you honestly think it’s up to our government to decide if our thoughts belong to us…? From that very attitude alone, flows fascism. Very sad that there are people like that. Waiting till somebody else decides for them whether they have a right to there own thoughts.

    You know if I had plans to blow up the world I don’t think I would put them on a computer, or even need to. A computer is a dairy of one person. If a customs agent goes through my luggage and finds a paper dairy, they don’t have the right to go through it and read my thoughts. That is totally Orwellian.
    Now if the customs have intelligence that the person might be a pedophile, carrying photos…that is another story…I say go for it. No pedophile Intel…the computer is off limits.

    And, after all a terrorist is not going to be so stupid as to bring lists or address or anything incriminating in with them in a computer when all they have to do is post on internet and retrieve when here. I submit to you that there is no overarching need to look at peoples computers, blackberry’s, cell phone, etc. other then the need to assure it’s not a harmful device..i.e. a bomb.
    If we, as a people of a free country allow stuff like this to continue, it will only get worse, and I for one don’t want to go there.

    I’m sorry to offend your sensibilities, but any government employee who does the crap like is mentioned in the story..is a SS trooper. Remember the troops where only following orders.

    A computer..et..al.. is just that. Determine if it’s a bomb, if not, go on.

    I’m sorry, what separatist crap were you talking about?? If you are talking about the Bush stuff, all I’m expecting from that is that soon he will be gone, but I’ll forever carry the shame of having voted for him. Very corrupt and very abusive in his doings. Oh, and he lies, big time. A bumper sticker I saw recently sums it up:
    I love my country, but I’m afraid of my government.

    I’m sorry to go there, but I needed to clear up the impression that I’m a separatist or whatever they call some one now who honestly disagrees with the currant practices of the Feds.

    The second page of the article mentions the customs people asking her about the “Word” program. It was probably an attempt by the agent to scare or intimidate the poor woman. There is no reason to do that to anybody.

    Tell me, do you support the Real ID, “let me see your papers citizen?” Do you really think that Bush and Co. can do no wrong? All of this stuff is connected you know. It’s all part of Big Brother, and that’s bad.

    Are you a part of it?

  5. Bob Paul says:

    Ah. I know where you’re coming from, now. A jaded republican, possibly a libertarian. We have a common thread. I voted for him too, and I share your sentiments. I agree with you wholeheartedly that no one inside the US should be forced to present documents, their hard drive, phone line, or any personal affect to any law enforcement without a very good reason or a warrant, but let’s see if I can help you understand: for the third and final time, it is at the border. You have very limited rights at a border. And if you just got off an int’l flight in Denver, then guess what… the airport just became the border. I’ll also say this one final time: it has ALWAYS been like this. Nothing has changed in the last several decades to get you all up in a tizzy (respectfully) about searching people coming into our country. Your arguments are EXTREMELY valid… when it’s about someone already in the country. It seems as though you’re barking up the wrong tree. Again- nothing has changed except technology. Oh’ and that “diary” of yours was fair game the whole time AT THE BORDER. Research customs law. You’ll find it fascinating what has been going on since Ellis Island. You’ve been talking “Constitution” this whole time. Inside the US you’d be right as rain, but to someone on the other side of that gate, it does not apply. Apples and Oranges, man. And finally, nowhere in the article did it say border patrol takes laptops. That’s like saying the FBI gave you a speeding ticket.

  6. thewordofme says:

    Hi Bob Paul, From article: “Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda, said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen, said the agent told her he had “a security concern” with her. “I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight,” she said.
    “I was assured that my laptop would be given back to me in 10 or 15 days,” said Udy, who continues to fly into and out of the United States. She said the federal agent copied her log-on and password, and asked her to show him a recent document and how she gains access to Microsoft Word. She was asked to pull up her e-mail but could not because of lack of Internet access. With ACTE’s help, she pressed for relief. More than a year later, Udy has received neither her laptop nor an explanation.”
    OK, not border patrol…I’m sorry, it was Customs.

    “A tech engineer returning from a business trip to London objected when a federal agent asked him to type his password into his laptop computer. “This laptop doesn’t belong to me,” he remembers protesting. “It belongs to my company.” Eventually, he agreed to log on and stood by as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited, said the engineer, a U.S. citizen who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of calling attention to himself.”
    excerpts from:Washington Post 02-06-08

    Now why would it concern a customs agent about websites that a citizen visited?

    “the government is going well beyond its traditional role of looking for contraband and really is looking into the content of people’s thoughts and ideas and their lawful political activities.” Washington Post 02-06-08

    I agree with this thought completely.

    Had just posted a column when I noticed your reply.
    And they are doing it to American citizens on this side of border.

    I am sure you are right on the border passing stuff. But, it still is not right

    It’s been a pleasure talking/writing to you.

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