Apr 23 2008
This hasn’t even occurred to me before as a privacy issue. The Ninth Circuit recently ruled that a US Customs Official has the right to rifle through the contents of your laptop. The issue was brought before the Appellate court in a charge of child pornography.
The traveler’s laptop was searched at a border point by a US Customs official who decided, for some apparent reason, to look at the folders entitled “Kodak Pictures” and “Kodak Memories”. The official found a picture of two nude women and continued to search more and found some evidence of child pornography.
The traveler argued that a search through one’s laptop was unreasaonable under the Fourth Amendement since the laptop was more like a “home” or the “human mind.” The prosecution argued that it was just a normal closed container like luggage, a purse or wallet. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the prosecution.
Ars Technica has looked at this issue in the past as it relates to iPhones or other smartphone devices that can store pictures, passwords, and other sensitive information. Personally, I think it is a place where the law has not competently kept up with technology.
Via Ars Technica.