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Your Work Laptop Can Now Be Seized Without Cause

I was going to title this post, "Supreme Court Gets It Wrong Again" but then decided that such a headline is hardly news these days.

If you travel internationally for business, listen up. Those wonderful "non-activists" over at SCOTUS have hereby decreed that your laptop can be seized for up to two weeks with no probable cause.

According to a PCWorld story, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives found that 7 percent of its membership said:

". . .they've had electronic devices seized at the U.S. border, said Susan Gurley, executive director of the trade group. It can take weeks to have those devices returned, and the seizures can disrupt the owners' work and require companies to buy costly replacements, she said.

Half of the survey respondents said a seizure of an electronic device could damage their standing within their companies, Gurley said. "These devices constitute the offices of today."

The Ohm Project has this to say:
After the Ninth Circuit's ruling essentially eliminating the 4th Amendment for border searches, international travelers carrying laptops must step up their efforts to protect confidential business and personal data on their computers.

The first step is encrypt. It really isn't that difficult and offers some protection against having your data stolen if your computer is seized, stolen or lost.

Encrypting offers you some legally valuable protection against government snoops. A federal magistrate ruled that the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination allowed a defendant to refuse to give up the password to his encrypted hard drive. The Boucher case still stands as of now.

Kansas Senator and noted "conservative" Sam Brownback maintains that a laptop is no different than any other luggage, and that trifles like personal privacy rights or business confidentiality have to be balanced against the need to protect the nation from terrorists and child pornographers and, well, whatever they find on your laptop that they don't like. Asked about having his own Blackberry searched, however, and Brownback was of course less than enthusiastic.

Yet another "do as we say, not as we do" from the "good folks" in "government."

TAGS: Innovation
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