[ISN] Bill would limit Homeland Security laptop searches

From: InfoSec News <alerts_at_private>
Date: Fri, 3 Oct 2008 01:30:38 -0500 (CDT)

By Stephanie Condon
Politics and Law 
September 30, 2008

The Homeland Security Department has declared its right to seize laptops 
at the U.S. border indefinitely, but legislation introduced Thursday is 
intended to curb that power.

U.S. Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Rep. 
Adam Smith, (D-Wash.), introduced the Travelers Privacy Protection Act 
in response to the DHS policy allowing customs agents to detain a 
traveler's laptop for an unspecified period of time to review its 
contents, even absent of individualized suspicion.

"Most Americans would be shocked to learn that upon their return to the 
U.S. from traveling abroad, the government could demand the password to 
their laptop, hold it for as long as it wants, pore over their 
documents, e-mails, and photographs, and examine which Web sites they 
visited--all without any suggestion of wrongdoing," Feingold said. 
"Focusing our limited law enforcement resources on law-abiding Americans 
who present no basis for suspicion does not make us any safer and is a 
gross violation of privacy."

The legislation would require DHS to form reasonable suspicion of 
illegal activity before searching electronic devices carried by U.S. 
residents. The DHS would also be required to provide probable cause and 
a warrant or court order to hold such a device for more than 24 hours. 
The bill also limits what information acquired through electronic 
searches the DHS can disclose, and it requires the department to report 
on its border searches to Congress.


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Received on Thu Oct 02 2008 - 23:30:38 PDT

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