Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Border screening policies may treat your laptop as "your junk"

The New York Times has an editorial Wednesday regarding the risk to travelers that their personal laptops could be searched and held without probable cause at border crossings and at airports (particularly with international flights).

Even given the recent scare regarding shipped laser printer cartridges, there’s no practical reason to look at the business and personal records of “average” travelers, the newspaper argues. The link for the editorial ("Searching Your Laptop") is here.

The ACLU has filed a suit regarding the holding of materials from press photographers (not amateurs, apparently) and criminal defense attorneys. The Times supports a Traveler’s Privacy Protection Act (S 3612, 110th Congress, Russell Feingold, govtrack link here ; the 112th Congress would have to reintroduce it.

My own practice is to carry only a small lightweight laptop when traveling. However, considerable personal (an unpublished) information would have been copied to the laptop which government agents could see.

Another issue in the past used to be having to turn a laptop on to prove it functions in the Security line. You had to be sure that the battery was charged and that the laptop is undamaged, and can boot up relatively quickly (a problem with XP and Vista). Since travel computers are likely to be older and less used, this could be a problem. Air travelers (taking personal computers for blogging and social networking) might want to consider the very small notebooks out now, including one from Verizon for only about $130.

At least, my older laptop is not “my junk.” You can touch it.

Update: Nov. 21

More on "junk" from the Alex Jones Channel:

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