MANHATTAN (CN) – The ACLU demands information on the Department of Homeland Security’s policy on searching laptop computers at international borders. The DHS’ Customs and Border Protection office announced in July that it can search electronic devices and any printed material carried by travelers regardless of whether they are suspected of anything – a statement one senator called “truly alarming.”
Such searches, made without suspicion of any legal infraction, violate civil rights, according to the complaint, which quotes Senator Russell Feingold as calling the practice “truly alarming.”
A bill pending in Congress would require DHS to base such searches on reasonable suspicion.
The ACLU says the DHS blew off its Freedom of Information Act request for information about the policy.
The ACLU wants to see the records on the practice, including policies regarding the criteria for selecting travelers to search and whether any procedures are followed if information is business-related or legally privileged.
It also seeks records on whether the information is circulated among other government agencies, statistics reflecting the number of travelers subjected to suspicionless searches, and statistics reflecting the racial profiles of travelers who are subjected to such searches.
The ACLU is represented by house counsel Jameel Jaffer.