6.28.2008

Laptop Searches in Airports Draw Fire at Senate Hearing

This is the 21st century people! Searching someone's bags is NOT the same as searching their computer. Our computers are our office, our home, our diaries, our phone calls, our letters. Stay the fuck out of it.

From the NY Times:

Advocacy groups and some legal experts told Congress on Wednesday that it was unreasonable for federal officials to search the laptops of United States citizens when they re-enter the country from traveling abroad.

[snip]

The federal government says the searches are necessary for national security and for legal action against people who bring illegal material into the country.

“If you asked most Americans whether the government has the right to look through their luggage for contraband when they are returning from an overseas trip, they would tell you ‘yes, the government has that right,’ ” Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, said Wednesday at the hearing of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

“But,” Mr. Feingold continued, “if you asked them whether the government has a right to open their laptops, read their documents and e-mails, look at their photographs and examine the Web sites they have visited, all without any suspicion of wrongdoing, I think those same Americans would say that the government absolutely has no right to do that.”

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John Aravosis from AmericaBlog had this to say about it & it was priceless (I think):
This is what happens when old men, like John McCain, frankly, try to make important decisions about new technology. They don't understand it, so they screw up. A search of a laptop computer, or a cell phone, is not a search of your luggage. It's a search of luggage that happens to contain the equivalent of a tape recording of every phone conversation you've had in the past ten years. Luggage that contains details of your sex life, including possible a recorded history of it. Luggage that includes your medical history. Nude photos of your spouse, or yourself. Your personal diary. A computer is not the same thing as an electric razor or a radio. It's an incredibly intimate look into the life of the bearer, and old men who know nothing about the brave new world of technology shouldn't be in the position of deciding how personal a computer really is (or isn't).

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