Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

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.

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Comment by Daniel Leuck on December 8, 2008 at 11:19pm
It looks like there may finally be some checks on these ridiculous searches.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 13, 2008 at 10:48am
Blaine - Thanks for the link. I missed this Slashdot post and the Washington Post article they reference. Its unfortunate that their forums seem to have been taken over by 12 year olds ranting about Microsoft and the foil hat crowd. I remember when there was intelligent conversation on Slashdot. :-/
Comment by Blaine Fergerstrom on February 12, 2008 at 7:05pm
This was discussed on a couple of days ago following a Washington Post article.
Comment by Calin West on February 12, 2008 at 3:08pm
Between this, all the secret warrants being used to search people's homes and mobile phone warrants being issued without probable cause... our country is going to hell in a handbag.
Comment by Cameron Souza on February 12, 2008 at 1:21pm
Yikes! They are definitely overstepping. The article mentions the CBP confiscating laptops indefinitely with no explanation.


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