More on laptops at borders

Of laptops and US border searches | The Register

In the Arnold case, the government argued that its search authority at the border is “plenary” or unrestricted, except that to do an invasive body cavity search, it would have to have some kind of suspicion.

As customs agents start searching for a longer and longer list of potentially contraband items (much less stuff that the government just happens to want to know about), people will have to carry more and more commercial paperwork with them (e.g. the receipts to prove that all the software on that laptop was legally purchased, all the media files ditto or else ripped for purely personal use, releases from all the folks who would have to give you permission to disclose their information to third parties, blah blah blah). Which of course will make laptops that much more of a target…

The author also points out that the definition of “border” is getting increasingly fluid. It’s any internation airport, of course, but on north and south, it’s also anywhere within 200 miles of the actual frontier. Albeit I don’t think to government is yet willing to claim plenary authority for warrantless searches of everything within that band.


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