We are quite familiar with the young woman who had her laptop “killed” with three bullets by Israeli security forces on a recent trip to Israel — but are you aware there is still a Bush-Era standing search and data
seizure policy that gives any U.S. Customs official or Border patrol agent the right to take your laptop and papers without a warrant or even a suspicion of illegality?


You can feel the chill the current policy sends down the spine of any
freedom of thought and both the ACLU and AAUP are asking for your help
and feedback in fighting these irrational seizures-by-whim that requires
no standard whatsoever for the seizure of electronic intellectual
property. 

Here’s how to help:

Please take a moment to review the questions below. If your answer to any of the questions is yes, please briefly describe your experience and e-mail your response to laptopsearch@aclu.org. (You may also copy your response to John Curtis, AAUP Director of Research and Public Policy, at jcurtis@aaup.org.) The ACLU and AAUP promise confidentiality to any faculty member responding to this request.

(1) When entering or leaving the United States, has a U.S. official ever examined or browsed the contents of your laptop, PDA, cell phone, or other electronic device?

(2) When entering or leaving the United States, has a U.S. official ever detained your laptop, PDA, cell phone, or other electronic device?

(3) In light of the U.S. government’s policy of conducting suspicionless searches of laptops and other electronic devices, have you taken extra steps to safeguard your electronic information when traveling internationally, such as using encryption software or shipping a hard drive ahead to your destination?

(4) Has the U.S. government’s policy of conducting suspicionless searches of laptops and other electronic devices affected the frequency with which you travel internationally or your willingness to travel with information stored on electronic devices?

If we stand together, perhaps we can end this merciless punishing of the freedom to think and wonder without warrantless repercussion.  If we do not rise and report, then we should not be surprised by the happy, governmental, repression of our most sacred right of free speech.

4 Comments

  1. There was one time that I went through security and because I had a lot of wires in my laptop bag, they checked it all over. They even took a couple of religious texts out and dusted them for who knows what. That was weird.

  2. My cousin was detained once for carrying a particular book and the question-answer session got pretty heated with the airport officials which led a thorough search…..
    Finally they let him go but he missed his connecting flight.
    Being cautious is good, being paranoid is not…

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