updated 10:25 am EDT, Fri August 28, 2009
New notebook border rules
US lawmakers have introduced new measures regarding searches of notebook computers entering the US, according to a Friday report. The revised rules attempt to address concerns regarding violations of privacy and Constitutional rights. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) maintains such searches are necessary to fight potential terrorism plots, child pornography and copyright infringement. Air travelers with notebooks are often asked to power up their devices to ensure they are what they appear to be, with some incidents going on to more in-depth searches of hard drive content.
Some privacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are calling for Congress to block such searches on notebooks, cellphones and other personal electronics without probable cause. The present rules allow searching devices without an owner's consent, but do require a search to be performed in an owner's presence, unless there are national security or law enforcement reasons to do so elsewhere. The rules also allow officers to hold devices or the data they contain, and copy it for later review without consent.
The new rules call for being more careful when handling data of a legal or business nature, as well as sensitive data such as medical records and information carried by journalists.