New Details in How the Feds Take Laptops at Border
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 9, 2013
WASHINGTON – Newly disclosed U.S. government files provide an inside
look at the Homeland Security Department’s practice of seizing and
searching electronic devices at the border without showing reasonable
suspicion of a crime or getting a judge’s approval.
The documents published Monday describe the case of David House, a
young computer programmer in Boston who had befriended Army Pvt.
Chelsea Manning, the soldier convicted of giving classified documents
to WikiLeaks. U.S. agents quietly waited for months for House to
leave the country then seized his laptop, thumb drive, digital camera
and cellphone when he re-entered the United States. They held his
laptop for weeks before returning it, acknowledging one year later
that House had committed no crime and promising to destroy copies the
government made of House’s personal data.
The government turned over the federal records to House as part of a
legal settlement agreement after a two-year court battle with the
American Civil Liberties Union, which had sued the government on
House’s behalf. The ACLU said the records suggest that federal
investigators are using border crossings to investigate U.S. citizens
in ways that would otherwise violate the Fourth Amendment.
The Homeland Security Department declined to discuss the case.