Brian Donahue reports:
The Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CLCR) has determined that the DHS’s warrantless, and often suspicion-less, search and seizure of electronics devices at U.S. borders does not violate the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search or seizure.
The CLCR argues [pdf] that the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have, for a long time, possessed the authority to conduct “suspicionless and warrantless searches of merchandise at the border and its functional equivalent.” This authority, they claim, extends to electronics devices as well as other merchandise. In other words, seizing and searching a laptop at an airport customs checkpoint is no different than rifling through someone’s trunk at any land-based port of entry. The courts, the executive summary states, “have not treated [border] searches of electronic devices any differently than searches of other object.”
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