Travelers Rage Over Seized Laptops

Government equates computers with bags; civil-liberties groups disagree
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2008 12:18 PM CST
Border agents have been taking electronics, copying all the information on them, and offering no explanation. This has alarmed some people.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – US border agents tell travelers there’s no difference between a laptop and a suitcase; both are fair game for searches. People crossing into the US have found their electronics confiscated, and their data copied, the Washington Post reports, all without explanation. “The government is going well beyond its traditional role of looking for contraband,” said one irate lawyer.

Two civil-liberties groups are set today to file a lawsuit inspired by 24 such cases—15 involving travelers of Muslim, Middle Eastern, or South Asian descent. Businesses are worried too, with some requiring employees to wipe laptops clean of company secrets before travel. “People are quite concerned. They don’t want proprietary business information” divulged, one activist said. “It increases the anxiety level.”