Risk
4/23/2008
02:39 PM
50%
50%

Border Agents Can Search Laptops Without Cause, Court Rules

The 3-0 decision is likely to extend to cell phones and other personal electronic devices.

U.S. border agents can search traveler's laptops without suspicion, according to a recent court ruling.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that computers are like luggage and therefore subject to searches at national borders and airports. The 3-0 decision is likely to extend to cell phones and other personal electronic devices. It overturns a previous ruling that sided with a defendant's arguments that laptop searches to constitute intrusions of the mind.

Timothy Arnold, a 43-year-old teacher from California, challenged the federal government's right to search laptops after border agents searched his computer nearly three years ago, reported finding child pornography, and arrested him on his way back from the Philippines.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that agents must have reasonable suspicion to search electronic devices and said they did not meet that threshold in Arnold's case. The government appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court.

Federal laws allow border agents to search diaries and other personal material without cause. The U.S. Department of Justice claims that laptops are no different than other containers and agents must be able to search them in order to prevent crime and protect national security.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives disagrees. It filed an amicus brief siding with Arnold and pointing out that laptops contain personal information, which could be systematically collected, stored, and searched without justification or oversight. Laptops can also be confiscated and held indefinitely.

The ACTE has warned its members to be cautious about carrying proprietary information across U.S. borders because searches could compromise corporate privacy.

Arnold's lawyer plans to appeal the latest decision.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-0714
Published: 2015-05-02
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in Cisco Finesse Server 10.0(1), 10.5(1), 10.6(1), and 11.0(1) allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified parameters, aka Bug ID CSCut53595.

CVE-2014-3598
Published: 2015-05-01
The Jpeg2KImagePlugin plugin in Pillow before 2.5.3 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service via a crafted image.

CVE-2014-8361
Published: 2015-05-01
The miniigd SOAP service in Realtek SDK allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted NewInternalClient request.

CVE-2015-0237
Published: 2015-05-01
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) Manager before 3.5.1 ignores the permission to deny snapshot creation during live storage migration between domains, which allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (prevent host start) by creating a long snapshot chain.

CVE-2015-0257
Published: 2015-05-01
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) Manager before 3.5.1 uses weak permissions on the directories shared by the ovirt-engine-dwhd service and a plugin during service startup, which allows local users to obtain sensitive information by reading files in the directory.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join security and risk expert John Pironti and Dark Reading Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson for a live online discussion of the sea-changing shift in security strategy and the many ways it is affecting IT and business.