More Fun for Travelers

The Fourth Amendment becomes quainter and quainter. As the Washington Post reports:

Federal agents may take a traveler’s laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

The policy applies to US citizens as well as foreign nationals. The confiscated materials may be kept for “a reasonable period of time,” which could be days, months, or years. And don’t worry, it’s not just for laptops:

The policies cover “any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,” including hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, 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.’ “

The right to seize personal property without probable cause, the DHS tells us, is “reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism.”

Peter G. Klein is a Research Fellow, Associate Editor of The Independent Review, and Member of the Board of Advisors of the Center on Culture and Civil Society at the Independent Institute.
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