You’re returning from a business trip abroad and when coming through customs here in the States someone from Homeland Security says, “I’d like to look through your computer to see if you have information about terrorists, drug smugglers, and other criminals trying to enter the country.” An interesting article in the Boston Globe suggest this happens more than you might think, claiming over 5,000 electronic devices were seized last year.
But they need to have a pretty darn good reason, right? Well, in a word, no. “Barring invasive techniques such as strip seizures, government agents are free to disregard Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. They don’t need reasonable suspicion or probable cause, and they can take what they like, be it laptops or smart phones.”
In a survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives last month, nearly half the participating companies did not know customs agents could inspect, copy, or even seize travelers’ laptops.
A number of companies are considering amending their IT / Travel policies to possibly include the following:
1. Employees upload files to the cloud and retrieve them later via the internet.
2. Download data onto a flash drive that can be mailed to a traveler’s final destination.
3. Create hidden drives on which to store the information.
Source: Boston Globe / online here: http://articles.boston.com/2012-01-08/business/30601167_1_laptops-search-and-seizure-strip-searches