ACLU files lawsuit over laptop border searches


The ACLU doesn’t like that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection can search through all your electronic personal effects—laptops, including all the data therein—so it has filed a lawsuit to back up an earlier Freedom of Information request asking, essentially, “what gives?” Is it reasonable for Customs to search you at the border? Sure. But is it reasonable for Customs to search you, then take away your laptop, hold onto it for an indeterminate length of time, all the while rifling through your browser history, photo directory, etc? Are they afraid of my exploding plain text files or something?

Never mind the holes in the logic of Customs. “Let’s search their laptops as they’re entering the country, make sure they don’t have dangerous and/or terrorist-related materials on their laptop.” Why would a terrorist, if he were so inclined, locally store all sorts of damaging material as he’s crossing the border? Why wouldn’t he, say, cross the border clean as a whistle, go to Best Buy, buy a cheap computer, then connect to TerroristNet from the comfort of his hotel room? (TerroristNet could, of course, be something as common as Google Docs, so let’s ban/search everyone’s account there, too.)

Then, of course, you’ve got the “but you have nothing to hide, why should you care?” Because I’d like to pretend that, as an American citizen, I shouldn’t have to surrender my MacBook when returning from EVIL VENEZUELA (where I have family, thank you very much), and wait for Some Guy to “approve” my browser history, make sure I don’t have anything suspicious on there. If I were up to no good abroad, you can be sure that I’d have wiped the drive clean before heading to the airport. It’s just common sense.