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Last Update: August 25, 2010

What's at Stake

In 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of the Department of Homeland Security, issued a policy that asserted that CBP had the right to search the laptops, electronic devices and printed material of any traveler at the border, "absent individualized suspicion." The policy applied to both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, and subjected travelers to the possibility of having their personal financial information, family photographs and lists of Web sites visited searched by CBP officials without having reason to believe they had broken the law.

In June 2009, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records concerning the criteria for carrying out the searches, how many travelers had been subjected to the searches, the number of devices retained and the reasons for their retention. The ACLU feels that this policy is a violation of travelers’ First and Fourth Amendment rights.

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