Border searches still legal

A US judge has ruled (in agreement with various other court decisions and administrative rules) that it's still OK to search laptops and other electronic devices at the US border, more or less regardless of whether there's reason to suspect the owner of wrongdoing.

The full decision contains significantly more nuance than the Wired article, of course, including discussion of comprehensive vs cursory searches and info about related previous rulings. It's kinda depressing reading.

Among other things, the judge says (essentially) that since you can plan ahead for international travel, you either shouldn't bring your laptop or shouldn't put anything sensitive on it, 'cause you should know to expect that it might get searched.

The judge also suggests that there is widespread public acceptance of suspicionless border searches, and always has been. I suspect that if more American business travelers got their laptops taken away and thoroughly searched, the public acceptance would drop precipitously.

(There's lots more to this whole topic, of course; it's not only electronic devices that can be searched without probably cause at borders, and that's bad too. And “borders” can extend to around 100 miles inland; see also “America's Internal Checkpoints.”)

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