Also in the News: Border searches raise privacy concerns

Recent changes to policies governing how information is gathered from U.S. citizens and others crossing the border has put privacy at risk, according to civil liberties advocates quoted in The Washington Post. The Homeland Security Department recently disclosed a new standard for copying material from travelers at the border, one that no longer requires probable cause of wrongdoing before a federal agent may copy data from laptop PCs and cell phones.

Privacy advocates quoted in the Post story are alarmed by the changes. "For 20 years the government has at least implicitly recognized there were some First Amendment restrictions on reading and copying documents," said Shirin Sinnar, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, which along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act for disclosure of border search policies. "It's disturbing now that the government has jettisoned that policy in favor of one that violates First Amendment rights."


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