Your Laptop and the Border

A Washington Post article this morning confirms what many have long suspected: your information has pretty much no rights when it comes to entering the United States. Specifically, if you’re crossing the border (whether you’re a US citizen or not):

  • Federal agents can seize your laptop, cell phone, iPod, videotape, books, or even the random receipts in your wallet.
  • They don’t need any suspicion of wrongdoing to do this.
  • They can share the seized information with other agencies or private companies.
  • If it turns out there’s nothing suspicious, they eventually have to destroy their copies of the seized information, but they can keep any notes they took about it.

I’d like to offer good advice for travelers entering the US here, but it’s not clear there is any. This looks like a good argument for simply keeping all of your data in the cloud, and leaving the hardware at home.


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