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Lawsuit Against Homeland Security's Electronics Search Policy

Crying Fourth Amendment violations

Sep 8 2010, 10:28am CDT | by

Lawsuit Against Homeland Security's Electronics Search Policy
 
 

A handful of American rights activists have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, saying its policy to search laptops and other devices at border crossings is in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers filed the suit this week. They blast the department's policy as being in direct opposition to a citizen's protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

More than 6,500 people were forced to give over their electronic devices at border crossings so they could be searched. The DHS also has the authority to copy all the information on any device they confiscate. That isn't sitting too well with advocacy groups.

"Innocent Americans should not be made to feel like the personal information they store on their laptops and cell phones is vulnerable to searches by government officials any time they travel out of the country," wrote the ACLU in its blog.

The suit was initiated in part by a 26-year-old French man, Pascal Abidor, after his laptop was confiscated while crossing the Canada-America border on an Amtrak train. He was handcuffed and kept in a holding cell while interrogated about files on the computer.

The ACLU says that all manner of private information, including chats with his girlfriend, were combed through on his hard drive. The lawsuit alleges that authorities had absolutely no reasonable suspicion to seize his laptop.

If this suit could somehow remove the requirement of taking out your laptop at airport security, we'd all be happy.

Via ACLU blog

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