The Mac Observer

Skip navigational links

You're viewing an article in TMO's historic archive vault. Here, we've preserved the comments and how the site looked along with the article. Use this link to view the article on our current site:
Returning to U.S. with a Computer Poses Risks for Private Data

Returning to U.S. with a Computer Poses Risks for Private Data

by , 3:00 PM EDT, May 2nd, 2008

A recent ruling by a U.S. Court allows border patrol agents to inspect and search a notebook computer or other digital device without limitation, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Travelers cannot be forced to divulge the password for encrypted disks, but the computer can still be seized.

Travelers and their employers are increasingly concerned that Custom and Border Protection agents could compromise sensitive information, trade secrets and private attorney-client communications. The EFF and other organizations have sent a letter to Congress asking for legislation to protect travelers from unlimited government scrutiny of their notebooks computers and smartphones at the borders.

Currently, travelers have several options. They can leave their computers at home. Or they could travel with a sanitized computer intended to only create content that is later encrypted and transmitted back to their employer's offices. Another tactic is security through obscurity -- hope that the border agents aren't too curious. However, if they do become curious, the CBP has the authority to detain the traveler or seize property. A federal court has ruled that the password doesn't have to be divulged, but declining to provide that information could mean confiscation of the computer. Finally, travelers who may have sensitive information on their smartphone are advised to enable the password lock before heading to the airport.

"There are no options that provide perfect privacy protection, but there are some options that reduce the likelihood that a legitimate international traveler's confidential information will be subjected to arbitrary and capricious examination," Jennifer Granick wrote for the EFF.

Recent TMO Headlines - Updated February 23rd

Fri, 7:06 PM
Apple and Content, Marzipan, and the Executive Shuffle, with Charlotte Henry - ACM 502
Fri, 6:25 PM
Apple to Launch TV Experience 'Dizzying in Scope'
Fri, 5:58 PM
How and When Apple Will Deliver 5G Wireless on its iPhones
Fri, 5:36 PM
RoboForm Everywhere Password Manager 5-Year Individual Plan: $29.99
Fri, 4:24 PM
Pinna Gets Your Kids into Podcasts and Audiobooks
Fri, 4:14 PM
Show Your Pride With a Limited Edition Rainbow Venmo Card
Fri, 4:04 PM
PSA: Apple Makes it Easier to Download iCloud Photos in Bulk
Fri, 3:33 PM
What Will it Take for Apple to Break Up With Facebook?
Fri, 3:00 PM
Barry Diller on Netflix, Facebook's Latest Data Kerfuffle – TMO Daily Observations 2019-02-22
Fri, 1:40 PM
Apple Asks Court to Reconsider VirnetX Case
Fri, 1:26 PM
Apple to Close Stores in Texas' Eastern District in Bid to Fight Off Patent Trolls
Fri, 12:57 PM
With Roma, Netflix Could Become Hollywood Royalty
  • __________
  • Buy Stuff, Support TMO!
  • Podcast: Mac Geek Gab
  • Podcast: Apple Weekly Report
  • TMO on Twitter!