It has happened more than once. People traveling to the US have had their laptops mobile devices and/or cell phones seized by Customs agents and the data examined. This has started a fuss that has caused the EFF to file suit.

Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda, said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen, said the agent told her he had “a security concern” with her. “I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight,” she said.

The seizure of electronics at U.S. borders has prompted protests from travelers who say they now weigh the risk of traveling with sensitive or personal information on their laptops, cameras or cellphones. In some cases, companies have altered their policies to require employees to safeguard corporate secrets by clearing laptop hard drives before international travel.

Enter stage right the EFF. They plan to file suit today to force disclosure of Customs policies regarding searches.

Meanwhile some companies have adopted a different approach,

In Canada, one law firm has instructed its lawyers to travel to the United States with “blank laptops” whose hard drives contain no data. “We just access our information through the Internet,” said Lou Brzezinski, a partner at Blaney McMurtry, a major Toronto law firm. That approach also holds risks, but “those are hacking risks as opposed to search risks,” he said.

I don’t keep data on my personal machine anymore out of worry of losing it as opposed to searches.

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[UPDATE, Feb 11, 2008]: Well, it appears that someone woke up CNN and they have now posted an article on this story.

[tags]Customs Searches, Laptop Searches, Privacy[/tags]

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