New restrictions in place for U.S. border laptop searches


A bit of a corollary to yesterday’s story of an ACLU lawsuit designed to ascertain more information about laptop border searches. The Obama Administration has put a whole bunch of new restrictions on the practice, some of which may placate the “don’t search me” brigade.

It’s like this: from now on, supervisors must be present during any and all searches of your personal electronic devices. No more worrying about Entry Level Employee making a mess of things, then. Even more importantly, while Customs can still seize your laptop and look through it for whatever reason (even if they’re not suspicious of anything), they will have to delete within seven days any and all records, including copied data, of the search. So if Customs made a copy of your laptop’s “Private Data, Do Not Look” folder, well, it will have to be deleted.

Why someone wouldn’t just encrypt their data, or have sensitive information on a separate partition or whatever, I don’t know. It can’t be too hard to outsmart the guys at the border.

Also, lawyers have to be contacted if Customs want to look through medical records, legal documents or a journalists’ notes.

But again, the mere fact that I have to surrender my laptop is silly to begin with. I don’t recall that happening when I was traveling throughout the European Union last year.

A step in the right direction.