U.S. Government Policy for Seizing Laptops at Borders

Via Bruce Schneier | Amazing. The U.S. government has published its policy: they can take your laptop anywhere they want, for as long as they want, and share the information with anyone they want:

Federal agents may take a traveler’s laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed. Also, officials may share copies of the laptop’s contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption, or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.[…]

DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies – which apply to anyone entering the country, including US citizens – are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism.

[…]

The policies cover ‘any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,’ including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover ‘all papers and other written documentation,’ including books, pamphlets and ‘written materials commonly referred to as “pocket trash…”

 

It’s not the policy that’s amazing; it’s the fact that the government has actually made it public.

Here’s the actual policy.

Slashdot thread. My previous essay on crossing borders with laptops, and how to protect yourself.

Although honestly, the best thing is probably to keep your encrypted archives on some network drive somewhere, and download what you need after you cross the border.