Afraid of having your laptop seized by US Customs and Immigration Officials?

I have to admit that I was completely unaware of the power that US Department of Homeland Security has to seize and search your laptop, mobile phone, or hard drive without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. Last April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that digital equipment passing into the US is legally the same as a suitcase or bag and therefore subject to random searches. A quick scan of Google shows that the Department of Homeland Security operates outside the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of probable cause and a warrant is not needed before invasive search and seizure of persons, houses, papers, and effects is allowed. The recent announcement that Congress is seeking to provide guidelines for US Laptop searches through the introduction of the Border Security Search Accountability Act of 2008 does nothing to protect the individual.

The bill makes no attempt to limit when search and seizure of electronic devices passing through US borders are permissible. It simply requires data that is determined to be commercial trade secrets or privileged information isn’t shared with federal, state, local, or foreign authorities unless it can be demonstrated that the receiving agency complies with laws and regulations protecting such information. If there is no way to hide behind the “it’s a matter of National Security” façade the owner of the device will receive a receipt for the device and written notification that the data has been copied or distributed. Oh yes, they also get a pamphlet on how to report abuses or concerns about the DHS’s actions… I’m not sure just how much use that’s going to be!

So, are the US Authorities helping you build a case for installing that video conferencing or Telepresence Suite? If our business is anything to go by, we are seeing more and more enquiries about video conferencing.

But, I hear you say, there are times when travelling is the only option! If that’s the case, maybe you should be looking at desktop virtualisation.

About Peter Borner

Peter is an entrepreneur and successful business leader. Currently leading a consultancy firm specialising in technical diligence for M&A and advising global firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies.

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