01 August 2008

US Border Agents Can Seize Travellers' Laptops, Cellphones

When my passport elapsed in 2001, I hadn't the money then - or since - to get another to replace it.

Back then, the lack of a passport didn't affect my ability to travel back and forth between here and the US, the latter being the only foreign destination I might need to visit on WISE business.

Then 911, the Iraq invasion, the US PATRIOT Act, Homeland Security, FEMA all happened ... and more. Ever since, I've had no desire to visit south of the border. Indeed, for these very reasons Daphne and I turned down an all-expenses paid opportunity to present at a poverty forum in the States and expand WISE south of the border.

Now there's one more reason to shun the great U.S. of A. from one's travel itinerary.
U.S. authorities now have the power to seize and detain travellers' electronic devices, including laptops and cellphones, and make copies of their contents at an off-site location, under newly disclosed customs policies.

The policy gives border agents at any point of entry into the United States the authority to also take documents, books, pamphlets and hard drives. The items can be seized from anyone crossing the border and may then be copied and shared with other government agencies, according to Department of Homeland Security documents dated July 16.

All this in the name of security and counter-terrorism? How can documents, books and pamphlets constitute a threat?

They can't. The threat is domestic and it lies in such policies as this.

Oh, wait. This is why documents, books and pamphlets may constitute a threat:
"These examinations are part of ... long-standing practice and are essential to uncovering vital law-enforcement information," the policy says, noting examinations help authorities detect possible instances of terrorism, narcotics smuggling, child pornography and violations of copyright and trademark laws.

Corporate Amerika must be protected from the people (Canadians, USians, all of us), including downloading children.

Fascism is alive and well in the Land of the Free.

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