Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Laptops and border crossings

The New York Times has in an editorial, “The Government and Your Laptop” a plea for Congress to pass a law to ensure that laptops (along with phones, etc.) are not seized at borders without reasonable suspicion.

The have the interesting statistic that in a survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, 7 of 100 respondents reported a laptop or other electronic device seized. Of course, this indicates a problem with metrics. It almost certainly does not mean a 7% seizure rate, as I’ve seen this inflated to. These seizures are such an outrageous thing that the people who have been subjected to them are properly and justifiably outraged. They’re not going to toss the survey in the trash.

I’m not sure how much I like the idea that Congress should pass a law to ensure that the fourth amendment is met. Part of me grits my teeth, as I think it should happen on its own. But if the courts aren’t going to agree, that probably has to happen.

2 comments on "Laptops and border crossings"

  • Adam says:

    Do we have a better estimate? Would you buy 7% of all people traveling with laptops?

  • Use Strong Crypto says:

    Until it gets sorted out, use good crypto and be willing to go to jail rather than reveal the key.
    Would be interesting to hearr the details of excatly how DHS deals with encrypted disks — and, what they are and are not finding in their searches.
    Meanwhile, express outrage to everyone and hope that the courts show some sanity.
    In the end, this is a heady issue…

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