DHS May Seize Electronic Devices from Americans Up to 100 Miles Inland from U.S. Borders

February 9th, 2013

Via: Wired:

The Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security.

The DHS, which secures the nation’s border, in 2009 announced that it would conduct a “Civil Liberties Impact Assessment” of its suspicionless search-and-seizure policy pertaining to electronic devices “within 120 days.” More than three years later, the DHS office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties published a two-page executive summary of its findings.

“We also conclude that imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,” the executive summary said.

The memo highlights the friction between today’s reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government’s stated quest for national security.

The President George W. Bush administration first announced the suspicionless, electronics search rules in 2008. The President Barack Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules a year later. Between 2008 and 2010, 6,500 persons had their electronic devices searched along the U.S. border, according to DHS data.

According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.

6 Responses to “DHS May Seize Electronic Devices from Americans Up to 100 Miles Inland from U.S. Borders”

  1. Harflimon Says:

    As absurd as this is 100-mile zone is at any border, I wonder if it means only the land borders at Canada and Mexico. It would be terrifying if they claim the coastal borders as well. Considering the amount of population that lives along the Coasts and even the Great Lakes/Gulf of Mexico, that would probably be over 80% of the total population that would be subjected to this just driving to work. Crazy.

  2. MBerger47 Says:

    As a resident of Canada, this is shocking. 90% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border.

  3. alvinroast Says:

    @Harflimon – I’m afraid the interpretation I’ve seen is that it includes coastal borders as well. If you live in NYC, on the Oregon Coast or the Great lakes/Gulf you are in the 4th Amendment free zone. Yes that’s over 80% of the population.

    What’s crazy to me is that very few people ever complain about this. This whole supposed division in the US over the 2nd Amendment seems absurd when the rest of the Bill of Rights is forgotten.

    I’ve been detained multiple times near the 100 mile mark and when I mention it to people they respond with comments like “that doesn’t happen in America” as if I were just making up stories. It’s mind boggling to me.

  4. rotger Says:

    Does it include the international airports?
    Wired magazine says that it include the coast here: http://www.wired.com/threatlev.....ssails-10/

    MBerger47: Don’t worry, this new rule only apply for inland USA, not Canada. They can already arrest us, detain us or kill us without trial since we are not american citizens. The outrage has always been about when those rules are applied inland.

  5. alvinroast Says:

    Here’s the map for those unsure:
    http://www.aclu.org/constitution-free-zone-map

  6. LoneWolf Says:

    All through the years, the US ‘authorities’ have projected stories into the mainstream media as to how dangerous and bad things could be on the for example on the Mexican border. Flu outbreaks, drug cartels, crime, etc. What is the best way to keep curious eyes from an area?

    MOST ELECTRONIC DEVICES NOW HAVE THE CAPABILITY TO RECORD VIDEO, AUDIO AND IMAGES. MOST WITH THE FEATURE TO UPLOAD TO THE INTERNET.

    THEY DO NOT WANT US TO RECORD ACTIVITIES NEAR BORDERS.

    THE RUMORS OF FORIEGN TROOPS ON NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN BORDERS OF THE USA NEVER SEEM TO FADE. Google and/or Startpage the non – USA military on the borders.

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