U.S. Border Agents Seizing Travelers' Devices

US Border Agents Seizing Traveller's Devices



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.
Reading further into that, it's another good reason why I don't plan on flying or traveling in anyways into the US.

And it's also a good thing my GF from Australia changed her flight to go through the UK, rather then through the US, as she brought her laptop with her.

Whether any of this is true or not, it's not hard to believe. I mean, they did sweep away Arar to Syria without anybody knowing until it was way too late, and apparently he was an innocent. Who knows how many other innocent people have to go through having their stuff taken away, their personal information exposed for no apparent reason, or even worse?


Nabila Mango, a therapist and a U.S. citizen who has lived in the country since 1965, had just flown in from Jordan last December when, she said, she was detained at customs and her cellphone was taken from her purse. Her daughter, waiting outside San Francisco International Airport, tried repeatedly to call her during the hour and a half she was questioned. But after her phone was returned, Mango saw that records of her daughter's calls had been erased.

A few months earlier in the same airport, 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......

.....Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus, two civil liberties groups in San Francisco , plan to file a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policies on border searches, including which rules govern the seizing and copying of the contents of electronic devices. They also want to know the boundaries for asking travelers about their political views, religious practices and other activities potentially protected by the First Amendment. The question of whether border agents have a right to search electronic devices at all without suspicion of a crime is already under review in the federal courts.

The lawsuit was inspired by two dozen cases, 15 of which involved searches of cellphones, laptops, MP3 players and other electronics. Almost all involved travelers of Muslim, Middle Eastern or South Asian background, many of whom, including Mango and the tech engineer, said they are concerned they were singled out because of racial or religious profiling.

US Airports certainly are not fun to experience this day and age.

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