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
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-5367
Published: 2015-08-27
The HP lt4112 LTE/HSPA+ Gobi 4G module with firmware before 12.500.00.15.1803 on EliteBook, ElitePad, Elite, ProBook, Spectre, ZBook, and mt41 Thin Client devices allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5368
Published: 2015-08-27
The HP lt4112 LTE/HSPA+ Gobi 4G module with firmware before 12.500.00.15.1803 on EliteBook, ElitePad, Elite, ProBook, Spectre, ZBook, and mt41 Thin Client devices allows remote attackers to modify data or cause a denial of service, or execute arbitrary code, via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2013-7424
Published: 2015-08-26
The getaddrinfo function in glibc before 2.15, when compiled with libidn and the AI_IDN flag is used, allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (invalid free) and possibly execute arbitrary code via unspecified vectors, as demonstrated by an internationalized domain name to pin...

CVE-2015-2139
Published: 2015-08-26
HP Systems Insight Manager (SIM) before 7.5.0, as used in HP Matrix Operating Environment before 7.5.0 and other products, allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive information via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2015-5403.

CVE-2015-2140
Published: 2015-08-26
HP Systems Insight Manager (SIM) before 7.5.0, as used in HP Matrix Operating Environment before 7.5.0 and other products, allows remote authenticated users to obtain sensitive information or modify data via unspecified vectors.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Another Black Hat is in the books and Dark Reading was there. Join the editors as they share their top stories, biggest lessons, and best conversations from the premier security conference.