9/29/2006

Laptops Content may be Subject to Inspection upon Entering the United States

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 1:27 pm

A recent and controversial decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California held that the United States (U.S.) Customs Officials may seize and search travelers’ laptops upon entering the U.S. even in the absence of search warrant or probable cause.

The traditional 4th Amendment protection offered by the U.S. Constitution does not apply to airport searches, held this Court.

This decision was reached in U.S. v. Romm, No. 04-10648, a child pornography case. The Customs Officers seized and searched Romm’s laptop, even though Romm had no been issued a search warrant or had any probable cause of been committing a crime. After a careful search, the Customs Officers found that Romm had recently visited some child pornography websites and this evidence was used in Court in the State’s case against him.

Some experts argue that this case represents judicial approval of a far-beyond invasion of privacy, even though its facts do not provide the best example of an innocent defendant. Commenting on Romm’s case, Shaun Martin, a Law professor at the University of San Diego, said: “It is one thing to turn on your computer in the airport to make sure it is not a bomb. It is another thing for customs officials to turn on your computer and to read everything you ever wrote and to look at everything you ever downloaded.”

Source: ibls.com

 

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