Merely an “Inconvenience”: Judge OKs Border Search of Private Electronics

From Common Dreams:

ACLU calls decision total defeat for personal privacy of innocent people crossing border

Jon Queally

In a decision the ACLU says has “no silver lining,” a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the U.S. government has the right to search the private electronic devices of individuals crossing its international border—even those of U.S. citizens—calling the possibility of having ones computer or phone taken and searched by authorities “simply among the many inconveniences associated with international travel.”

Though the judge who made the ruling, Edward R. Korman of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York, contended such searches are rare. He also indicated that traveling abroad with electronically stored data was not necessary and that ways to “mitigate” the possibility of a search were possible.

“While it is true that laptops may make overseas work more convenient,” he wrote, “the precautions plaintiffs may choose to take to ‘mitigate’ the alleged harm associated with the remote possibility of a border search are simply among the many inconveniences associated with international travel.”

According to the ACLU, however, the government itself has records showing that thousands of innocent American citizens have been searched as they return from trips abroad.

Cases of ethnic minorities, political activists, and working journalists being specifically targeted are also well-documented in the post-9/11 era.

“We’re disappointed in today’s decision, which allows the government to conduct intrusive searches of Americans’ laptops and other electronics at the border without any suspicion that those devices contain evidence of wrongdoing,” said Catherine Crump, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who argued the case in July 2011. “Suspicionless searches of devices containing vast amounts of personal information cannot meet the standard set by the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Unfortunately, these searches are part of a broader pattern of aggressive government surveillance that collects information on too many innocent people, under lax standards, and without adequate oversight.”

As the New York Times reports:

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by Pascal Abidor, a graduate student in Islamic studies, who sued the government after American border agents removed him from an Amtrak train crossing from Canada to New York. He was handcuffed, placed in a cell and questioned for several hours, then his laptop was seized and kept for 11 days.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Press Photographers Association were also plaintiffs in the case, arguing that their members travel with confidential information that should be protected from government scrutiny.

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One Response to “Merely an “Inconvenience”: Judge OKs Border Search of Private Electronics”

  1. JinianVictoria Herdina Says:

    I am so happy to know the 4th amendment is a mere inconvience that can be easily dispensed with! I think the judge has not gone far enough! lets dispense with the ENTIRE first 10 amendments and let the government and judges decide what is fitting for the government to do or not to do! You think I am joking? the first amendment is gone for all intents and purposes, the second on the right to bear arms is under attack and it just keeps going on. When ever the judges or a political party find a law or amendment an inconvienent road block to something they find a way around it, an exemption or rewrite the law to suit their purpose. Society will not accept a full scale rejection of the constitution so the political partys and judges nibble away at a liitle at a time, one decision at a time……remember the frog sitting in water? well we are the frog, raise the heat a little at a time the frog won t notice. It is fools like this judge who are making the Founding fathers spin in their graves! The Constitution is being accepted as the10 Commandments when it is convienent to do so and when it is not it simply ignored or subverted by twisted judicial or legislative arguments. This judge (hopefully) was appointed to the bench to enforce the law not rewrite for the governments convienence which is effectively what has been done here. George Orwell called it and it is simple put…Big Brother is watching and little brother is investigating! When we allow for the loss of our rights to whatever degree we are losing out liberty as free men. When did this become a society of …….everthing exsists of by and for the government? I was taught in *the dark ages of the 50s and 60s* that governments exsists for the people not the people for the government! I guess I was taught wrong

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