Laptop computers and other digital devices carried into the U.S. may be seized from travelers without a warrant and sent to a secondary site for forensic inspection, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled last week. The ruling is the second in less than a year that allows the U.S. government to conduct warrantless, offsite searches of digital devices seized at the country's borders.
A federal court in Michigan last May issued a similar ruling in a case challenging the constitutionality of the warrantless seizure of a computer at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Several other courts, including the Ninth Circuit itself, have ruled that warrantless, suspicion-less searches of laptops and other digital devices can take place at U.S. border locations.
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