Lawsuit Seeks to End Border Searches of Electronic Devices

September 8, 2010 -

When the President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) is forced to log in to her laptop at an airport and a customs official disappears for 30 minutes with the computer, it’s probably a safe bet that some form of litigation will emerge from the encounter.

This is exactly what happened to Lisa Wayne as she was traveling home from Mexico in August of 2008. The incident, according to the National Law Journal, took place at the Houston, Texas airport and eventually resulted in her organization joining a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

The NACDL, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) and Pascal Abidor, a student, and NPAA member whose laptop was seized and searched during a May U.S. and Canadian border stop, are the lawsuit’s plaintiffs. Abidor was jailed briefly and his laptop was returned to him eleven days later. His email and research were among the items accessed on his hard drive by authorities.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the plaintiffs in the suit, which seeks to constitutionally challenge (leveraging the Fourth Amendment) the “suspicionless search of the contents of Americans’ laptops, cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices at the international border.”

DHX spokesman Matthew Chandler called the searches a “targeted tool” for customs officials.

In the complaint it’s alleged that Customs officials can undertake a search “with or without individualized suspicion," and that over 6,500 people were subjected to such searches of their electronic devices from October, 2008 through June of this year. Of the 6,500, nearly 3,000 were U.S. citizens.

For her part, Wayne plans to claim attorney/client privilege and refuse to log in to her laptop if asked to do so in the future. She still worries that custom officials will seize her computer and ultimately gain access though.

The full complaint can be accessed on the ACLU website here (in PDF form).

Earlier this year, the ACLU claimed that customs officials were making copies and backups of information seized off the electronic devices of travelers.


Comments

Re: Lawsuit Seeks to End Border Searches of Electronic ...

What happens when you use encrypted file containers? Do they intimidate you into exposing your data or can they penalize you for non-compliance?

Re: Lawsuit Seeks to End Border Searches of Electronic ...

They demand the access codes for it or detain you under the patriot act as a potential terrorist until you comply.

Re: Lawsuit Seeks to End Border Searches of Electronic ...

Isn't this sort of thing that ACTA would want to happen on a daily basis at airports? If so I would so fight this thing before it becomes standard. 

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: Lawsuit Seeks to End Border Searches of Electronic ...

According to BoingBoing, that section's been removed.

Of course, ACTA is still bad, bad news.

Re: Lawsuit Seeks to End Border Searches of Electronic ...

There are rumblings of that yes, though they are coming with the classic 'we need to be able to search for kiddy porn!' argument rather then ACTA.

Re: Lawsuit Seeks to End Border Searches of Electronic ...

"The NACDL, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) and Pascal Abidor, a student, and NPAA member whose laptop was seized and searched during a May U.S. and Canadian border stop, are the lawsuit’s defendants."

Should that say "plaintiffs"?

Thanks for the article; interesting stuff.

 
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james_fudgethere's some inside baseball stuff going on in this Andrew - likely some stuff we don't know10/20/2014 - 3:30pm
E. Zachary KnightGreat musical video about online trolling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nS-QeM2ne810/20/2014 - 2:46pm
Andrew EisenBut again, this whole thing is just too damn vague to form an opinion on.10/20/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenWithout the original communication, it's impossible to say if it could honestly be misconstrued as a friendly suggestion rather than an employer directive. However, it appears that subsequent emails should have cleared up any doubt.10/20/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenThose aren't the owner's words, they're Chris Dahlen's. For what it's worth, we do see an email from Gonzalez stating "you've already broken the only rule we set for you!!!!!!!"10/20/2014 - 2:38pm
Michael ChandraSo really the guy's own words strike me as "wah! How dare you disagree with me!" behaviour, which is the sort of childish attitude I am unfortunately not surprised by.10/20/2014 - 2:17pm
Michael ChandraCorrect AE, but then again the owner's own words are about "wishes", not about an order. No "we told him not to", but going against his wishes.10/20/2014 - 2:16pm
Matthew Wilsonyup. sadly that has been true for awhile.10/20/2014 - 2:10pm
james_fudgewelcome to 2014 politics. Increasingly fought online10/20/2014 - 1:54pm
E. Zachary KnightIt is honestly a shame that anyone has to publicly state they are against such vile behavior, but that is the sad life we live.10/20/2014 - 1:46pm
E. Zachary KnightDecided to publicly reiterate my opposition to harassment campaigns. http://randomtower.com/2014/10/just-stop-with-the-harassment-and-bullying-campaigns-already/10/20/2014 - 1:45pm
Andrew EisenMichael Chandra - Unless I overlooked it, we haven't seen how the directive to not talk about whatever he wasn't supposed to talk about was phrased so it’s hard to say if it could have been misconstrued as a suggestion or not.10/20/2014 - 12:35pm
Andrew EisenHey, the second to last link is the relevant one! He actually did say "let them suffer." Although, he didn't say it to the other person he was bickering with.10/20/2014 - 12:29pm
Neo_DrKefkahttps://archive.today/F14zZ https://archive.today/SxFas https://archive.today/1upoI https://archive.today/0hu7i https://archive.today/NsPUC https://archive.today/fLTQv https://archive.today/Wpz8S10/20/2014 - 11:21am
Andrew EisenNeo_DrKefka - "Attacking"? Interesting choice of words. Also interesting that you quoted something that wasn't actually said. Leaving out a relevant link, are you?10/20/2014 - 11:04am
quiknkoldugh. I want to know why the hell Mozerella Sticks are 4 dollars at my works cafeteria...are they cooked in Truffle Oil?10/20/2014 - 10:41am
Neo_DrKefkaAnti-Gamergate supporter Robert Caruso attacks female GamerGate supporter by also attacking another cause she support which is the situation happening in Syia “LET SYRIANS SUFFER” https://archive.today/F14zZ https://archive.today/Wpz8S10/20/2014 - 10:18am
Neo_DrKefkaThat is correct in an At-Will state you or the employer can part ways at any time. However Florida also has laws on the books about "Wrongful combinations against workers" http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/448.04510/20/2014 - 10:07am
james_fudgehe'd die if he couldn't talk about Wii U :)10/20/2014 - 9:16am
Michael ChandraBy the way, I am not saying Andrew should stop talking about Wii-U. I find it quite nice. :)10/20/2014 - 8:53am
 

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