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Federal Judge Limits DHS Laptop Border Searches 359

Declan McCullogh is reporting at CNET that a federal district court judge has rebuked the Department of Homeland Security, "which had claimed it can seize a traveler's laptop and search it six months later without warrant." As described in the article, DHS policies have been stacked against travelers entering the US, including citizens returning from abroad: "There's no requirement that they be returned to their owners after even six months or a year has passed, though supervisory approval is required if they're held for more than 15 days. The complete contents of a hard drive or memory card can be perused at length for evidence of lawbreaking of any kind, even if it's underpaying taxes or not paying parking tickets." This ruling does not address immediate searches at the border, but says that DHS cannot hold computers for indefinite searching, as in the case to hand, concerning a US citizen returning from a trip to Korea, whose laptop was seized and held for months before a search was even conducted on it.
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Federal Judge Limits DHS Laptop Border Searches

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  • by Rallias Ubernerd ( 1760460 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @03:18PM (#32526734) Journal
    I worry about the mentality of this nation.
  • Re:Finally ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2010 @03:42PM (#32527026)

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
        -- Thomas Jefferson

  • by dazedNconfuzed ( 154242 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @03:49PM (#32527134)

    PortableApps.com = move your digital life onto removable media, able to run on any PC.
    microSDHC = 1-16GB storage on a sub-fingernail-sized removable media.
    Unless they're gonna go thru all the lint in everyone's pockets, they can have the notebook.

  • Re:Rights?! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @03:49PM (#32527142)

    Rights?! Rights?! This is Soviet America you don't need Rights so move on already!

    These searches and bullshit by the grunts with the badges and guns are just for us little people. When you fly in on a private jet, the HMS is, let's say, much more courteous.

    Now peon, quit your bitching about the order of things and get back to work with the rest of us nobodies!

  • Re:Burned CDs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:13PM (#32527442) Journal

    Something similar happened to me when I crossed into Canada. I just happened to have water filters in my trunk, and the guy labeled in "commercial products" and refused to let me enter, although I explained it was my own personal items. So I dumped them in a trash barrel and continued through.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:39PM (#32527882)

    That's all nice and well, but the Declaration of Independence has no basis in law, and never has.

    Worse, however, is the fact that the Constitution has no legal weight either.

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:21PM (#32528452)

    The great depression was extended for years due to to the action the government took to end it. Now we are doing the same thing again with the stimulus. Expect this recovery to last a while.
    http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/FDR-s-Policies-Prolonged-Depression-5409.aspx [ucla.edu]

    Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.

    In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.

    Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.

  • by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:36PM (#32528682)

    No, they are not. Concrete example:

    In the old days all the power companies in my country were owned by the government, be it local or national. Following the lead of the Thatcherites and Reaganites we decided to let the free market reign and privatized the companies.

    The problem is, power companies will use the assets that make up the infrastructure which a nation is completely dependant upon as collateral for loans, risky business endeavours etc. This what companies do and there is nothing wrong with that, except if it means that your economy could come crashing down at any time through no fault of your own because some jackass decide to play the lottery and now a couple of million people are sitting in the dark.

    So what did we do? We separated the companies that supply energy from the ones that manage the infrastructure. The infrastructure is safely in public hands, so there's no risk of waking up one day to find out the powerlines are owned by google. The suppliers are free to do whatever the heck they please within the rules, and if one of 'm goes tits up, we just switch to one of the two dozen other choices. Same principle applies to the phonelines and within a few years I expect the cable providers will do the same.

    There are some things that are simply too important and too valuable to be trusted to the free market. Electrical infrastructure. Transportation. Phonelines, the internet. As folks on Slashdot repeat over and over, a corporation has 1 objective and that is too squeeze out as much profit as possible for the shareholders, consequences be damned. When there is choice, that is not a problem, but when you're dealing with a natural monopoly, it is.

    You know what would happen if the US actually did what you preach? You would wake up one day and find out that not only does China own all your national debt, they own your powerlines, the road you use to go to work, the postman delivering your mail and the modem allowing you to post your ideological drivel.

  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:36PM (#32528686) Homepage
    That's all nice and well, but the Declaration of Independence has no basis in law, and never has.

    Ehh...not really that simple. The Declaration has some weight in US statutory law.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2010 @06:09PM (#32529080)

    Your western european economies (exception Germany, they grok both manufacturing and agriculture as being necessary for a robust economy) are in as bad a shape as anyone else's. .Your cradle to grave welfare state is economically unsustainable, it is based on the same voodoo economic junk science that American's enjoy...that you can trash real wealth production by offshoring your manufacturing and just keep issuing credit and accumulating debt and promising the moon, sun, stars and several small planetoids to your population for votes. This only can work for a short time historically speaking, and both Europe and the USA are entering a period of rapid economic decline because of it.

      You got *screwed*, faked out and-hate to say it-and brainwashed into believing those conmen, and it is going to be a rough row to hoe once the full ramifications sink in that you actually have to work hard and produce wealth BEFORE you can spend it. And in a global economy where the bulk of the manufacturing is being done at cents on the fiat dollar-or whatever currency you use-this rapid economic loss will hit so fast you'll want the number of that truck that ran you over. There are no more accounting tricks left for these government liars to use. You are going down same as the USA is.

    So, enjoy being smug now, you won't be enjoying things within a few years, the handwriting is on the wall. In fact, it isn't handwriting, it is huge lit up neon signs saying this.

    And before the expected indignant knee jerk response, you *are* aware that most of the European central banks got bailed out by US dollars, right? You know this? But..they are keeping it a secret as much as they can, because their/your entire system is based on lies and poofery and complete bullcrap, that it is even remotely possible to work little and receive all these benefits forever. This is why the banker gangsters are resisting the audit the Fed bill, and why the other day when Rep Grayson was grilling Bernanke he "doesn't recall" which European banks received billions. And the media in the US isn't pushing this because they do NOT want the US still working taxpayer to know that Europe got bailed out. They are trying to avoid "social unrest", because it is already bad enough with the obvious as hell central planning and incompetence moves with the past few administrations, including this latest megadisaster you Europeans seem so fond of. It's SHOW BUSINESS man, get over it, it is mostly lies, it's a scam,he's a scam, a machine politician bought and paid for who can follow lines.

    Oh, your media isn't reporting this stuff, you didn't know this, just sitting smug thinking your unsustainable welfare state would continue forever and ever? You didn't know that you got bailed out or your economy would already be collapsed? Gee, what a coincidence that the media that shills the government party line sort of forgot to mention it.

    If you want to see who understands real economics and how geopolitics and high level corruption and greed and playing politics for votes can wreak havoc on things, look to what the older Germans are doing right now for a major clue on what they see coming..because they've seen it before.

  • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @06:15PM (#32529140) Journal
    By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect.

    Logic like that is why nobody takes economists too seriously.
  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @06:57PM (#32529620) Journal

    Centralized power of ANY kind, whether it is in a corporation or government, is dangerous to individual liberty.

    In the absence of some outside restraining force, how do you avoid the inevitable natural concentration of power when everything is left to its own forces? Neither governments nor corporations appeared out of thin air; similar institutions have inevitably been created by people of civilizations that are very different otherwise. This seems to imply that the very nature of human society leads to them.

    Government, in that sense, is an attempt to curb the threat of centralized power by trying to have a single entity, which is at least nominally controllable, and can all other such entities - corporations - in check. It is itself effectively a private corporation (for citizens only) with non-transferable shares. Without its regulative effects, you instead have a bunch of completely uncontrollable, powerful entities that fight each other by all means available. Worst-case scenario is that they form a cartel, and then you have a corporatist dictatorship. So what do you propose?

    Why must decisions always be placed in someone else's hands? Why can't I make my OWN decisions of what I want to buy, or wish to work, or desire to live.

    The other side of a coin is having more than one choice. Elections were commonplace in all communist states, and they're still held in e.g. North Korea. It's just that the list of candidates is such that choice is meaningless. But the same effect can also be achieved economically, through monopolistic collusion - when your choice is not "buy X or Y", but "buy X or don't buy at all" - and for some categories of goods (e.g. food), the latter simply isn't an option. And a similar scheme with an even greater potential for abuse is possible on the job market...

  • by zooblethorpe ( 686757 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @07:09PM (#32529756)

    Perhaps we just are overdue for a revolution and a rewrite of our constitution and government to one that properly secures rights, because this 200 some year old one isn't held in high enough regard anymore...

    Heck, I'd settle for a reboot instead of a rewrite, where the Constitution is put back in place as the actual legal foundation for anything in this country's legislation.

    As things currently stand, there's so much awful unconstitutional cruft floating around that will likely never be cleared away... and then new laws are written and new case law decided based on this unconstitutional cruft. Meh. Idjimit (or corrupt) congress members can draft and even pass horribly written, prima facie unconstitutional legislation, and unless it's challenged and taken to court and judged unconstitutional, it stands. Herein lies the rub.

    So how about we just clear house, clean out the cruft, and get back to basics. And make sure any knucklehead in public office actually understands and follows through on those various oaths to protect and uphold the Constitution.


  • Re:Finally ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sabriel ( 134364 ) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @08:14PM (#32530388)

    I think every country should start doing exactly the same things to all US citizens.

    I propose the opposite. I propose we make it as nice as possible for US citizens to enter other countries, so they can see just how ugly the US border policies are by comparison.

    US tourist #1: "Yeah, it was cool! We arrived in Australia and the border guards gave us barbecued prawns!"

    US tourist #2: "And then we got back to the US and all we got was fingerprinted and a cavity search..."

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @01:59AM (#32532186) Homepage Journal

    A friend of mine is in Turkey now. He doesn't enjoy the same rights there as he does here.

    Your rights must protected and enforced.

  • I thought I pretty clearly stated that I do not think "whatever government does is right. Let's see...

    I didn't say a duly elected government had the right to do whatever the hell it wants, and genocide is certainly well outside those boundaries. On the other hand, taxation is widely considered to be a legitimate function of government.

    Wait, I did very explicitly say that. Helps to read what you're responding to.

    As to calling Godwin, that type of hyperbole fits to the definition what Godwin's Law was made for-hysterical references to Nazism and the Holocaust as analogies to things that are nothing like genocide.

    As to why taxation is not theft, let's look at what the definition of theft is. We'll start with Princeton Wordnet:

    larceny: the act of taking something from someone unlawfully; "the thieving is awful at Kennedy International"

    Alright, let's try Merriam-Webster then:

    1 a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property

    Note the common thread here: theft is an unlawful taking. Taxation is a lawful taking. Therefore, taxation is not theft. I'm not arguing at all that that makes it right by definition-one can certainly argue that taxes are too high and have a legitimate position. But by the definition of theft, taxation is not theft. By the definition of government, taxation is considered a legitimate function of government, even in the freest of liberal democracies. Genocide is not. To compare the two is ludicrous.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller