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Homeland Security Can Snatch Your Laptop at the Border, No Questions Asked

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Better flush your porn transfer folder before heading home from Tijuana, guys, because the DHS can and will find it, according to a report by the Washington Post. They also have permission to take your laptop or any other electronic device to an off-site location indefinitely, and share its contents with other agencies or private entities (read: anyone) for translation, decryption, or "other reasons." And it's not just your laptop you should be careful about, unfortunately.

The seizable items list is almost a formality, since it basically means "everything:"

The policies cover "any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form," including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover "all papers and other written documentation," including books, pamphlets and "written materials commonly referred to as 'pocket trash' or 'pocket litter.' "


Click to viewGranted, I would not be too surprised to find out that most countries with semi-hardened borders have similar policies. And Homeland Security claims that the guidelines for information seizures at the border have "long been in place" but came to light last month because of "public interest in the matter" (which doesn't make it any less of a big deal). Still, it's a little Iron Curtain-esque, don't you think? US senators like Russell Feingold are understandably pissed, and hoping to soften the policies through legislation. [Washington Post]