I just read a rather disturbing article
on CNN about laptop searches at airports. It describes laptop searches of US citizens that include forcing people to provide passwords
for files containing private personal and corporate data. I've run across similar articles on the BBC and in the Economist. These searches require no suspicion of wrongdoing. The CBP (Customs and Border Protection
) refuses to divulge the criteria for searches, what information is gathered, whether or not it is stored, and if it is shared. In a day and age when you can discover everything from sensitive financial data to sexual preferences on a laptop, isn't this level of unprovoked intrusion unacceptable?
Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security is quoted as saying "You forgo your right to privacy when you are seeking admission into the country. This is the kind of scrutiny the American public expects." Huh? If I visit my wife's family in Japan I am forgoing my right to privacy when I reenter my own country? This flies in the face of common sense.
As a side note, Japan now photographs and fingerprints all foreigners upon entry. At least the violation of my privacy is consistent on both sides of the Pacific. Eck.