Homeland Security: We Can Still Search You, But We’ll Be Nicer

Homeland Security: We Can Still Search You, But We’ll Be Nicer

Your laptop, mobile phone or camera can still be seized at the US border without suspicion of wrongdoing, but new guidelines require border protection and customs to take a maximum of 5 and 30 days, respectively, to complete searches.

The updated rules also make agents better inform you about what’s going on. It’s worth noting the searches are not standard practice: the DHS says that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has dealt with over 220 million travellers over the last 10 months, but only 1000 laptops were searched in that time.

Given those numbers, I guess I’m OK with it. As long as it’s only the terrorism and kiddy porn stuff they’re after. Personally, I gotta have my Divx movie rips on long haul flights.

“Keeping Americans safe in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully screen materials entering the United States,” DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement. “The new directives announced today strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders.”

There’s still definite privacy concerns, though. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit for more information on the searches earlier this week. It believes the DHS policy violates the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure.

What do you think? Were you one of those 1000 searched since October last year?

[DHS via Wall Street Journal]