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DHS Can Seize Your Electronics Within 100 Mi.of US Border, Says DHS 597

dreamstateseven writes "In a not-so-unexpected move, the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that travelers along the nation's borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security. According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. The memo highlights the friction between today's reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government's stated quest for national security. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation's actual border."
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DHS Can Seize Your Electronics Within 100 Mi.of US Border, Says DHS

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  • by fufufang ( 2603203 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:29PM (#42839813)

    Can they go into Canada or Mexico and seize stuff? Is this even legal? Or does it count as an invasion? Or has it got to be in the sea?

  • by sabri ( 584428 ) * on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:31PM (#42839825)
    Well, doesn't their reasoning make the entire country a border? Because an international plane (helicopter) can land virtually anywhere.. What protection does the fourth amendment give?

    Did this ever reach the supreme court?
  • 100 miles inland (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dr. Tom ( 23206 ) <tomh@nih.gov> on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:31PM (#42839831) Homepage

    Well, that includes all coastal cites, New York, L.A., Miami.

  • Sacre bleu! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:32PM (#42839843)

    Just for conjecture, Burlington, VT, Rochester, NY, Cleveland, OH are well within 160km (100 miles) of the Canadian border.

  • Loss of Money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IonOtter ( 629215 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:35PM (#42839865) Homepage

    Well, there goes $350 from me?

    I was going to upgrade to a nice, shiny new Galaxy S III this Saturday, and get a data plan and everything.

    I don't need either, but thought it might be nice to play around with all the cool toys, send IM and Tweets and stuff. Well. Not so nice after all.

    Sorry, Samsung! Sorry, T-Mobile! I'm gonna stick with my talk & text plan on a $25 disposable that I fling down a sewer grate.

  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:41PM (#42839925) Homepage Journal

    So it sounds like this applies to anyone living within states like Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii or Florida, all of which are within 100 miles of the ocean shore. Actually, I think that all of Massachusetts (where I live) is also less than 100 miles from the shore, but I might be wrong.

    I wonder what fraction of the US population lives within 100 miles of the national border. I'd guess it's well over 50%, but I don't see any easy way to find the number. Anyone know?

  • Implied Power (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Electrawn ( 321224 ) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [nwartcele]> on Friday February 08, 2013 @09:54PM (#42840041) Homepage

    Further, the US Constitution doesn't grant the federal government immigration authority. It is an "Implied Power" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_powers [wikipedia.org]

  • by bbelt16ag ( 744938 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:02PM (#42840109) Homepage Journal
    Ok guys i got a question. Does this include your home residence as well? can DHS enter you home at any time? I have heard of the sneak and peak and of other things they can use to enter with out probable cause or a warrant...
  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:02PM (#42840111)
    When I joined the Marine Corps, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I always figured it would be the foreign enemies I had to worry about.
  • by Inf0phreak ( 627499 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:11PM (#42840173)
    And that map isn't even complete. It's missing some 100 mile radius disks centred at inland international airports.
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:31PM (#42840319)

    I think they should extend that to within 100 miles of the coast line too. I'm about 80 miles from an ocean. I wonder how much of Washington DC is more than 100 miles from the coast.

    They need to walk a mile in the shoes of anyone near a boarder to realise the pain. How many illegals are in Washington DC? Maybe it is time we stopped everyone there to find out.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @10:39PM (#42840371) Homepage Journal

    The "border" is much larger than you seem to imply.

    Every airport at which international flights routinely land is also a "border". And, if a small plane from Mexico or Canada can land at a small airport, then that would be declared a "border" as well. And, if you have a few acres of land near you where an illegal flight MIGHT land, it's only a little bit more of a stretch to say that it could be an airport.

    This is the slippery slope by which DHS can barge into any home in America. Any. No one is safe.

  • Awful (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @11:15PM (#42840577)

    In US v. Boucher, DHS argues that they can COMPEL you to speak your passwords at the border.

    Now, DHS is arguing that the border extends 100 miles around the whole perimeter of the US (where most of the American people live).

    They ought to have serious problems with this in the federal courts.

  • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday February 08, 2013 @11:21PM (#42840605) Journal

    When I joined the Marine Corps, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I always figured it would be the foreign enemies I had to worry about.

    There is an existing threat to the Constitution which you have sworn to defend. So... what are you doing about it?

  • by Hotawa Hawk-eye ( 976755 ) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @12:12AM (#42840865)

    Washington DC is within 100 miles of the border, right? So if a DHS agent wanted to seize the laptop of a senator or representative under suspicion of bribery (a violation of 18 USC Sec. 201 [house.gov]) he or she would be within their authority to do so without needing to worry about the li'l old 4th Amendment?

  • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @12:30AM (#42840967)

    Ten years ago, I'd have said you made that up. Even five years ago, I might have said you made that up. Last year... I believe you. And how fucking sad is that.

  • Not sure what the situation is now, but during the summer of 2002, just about 9 months after "9/11", a friend and I sailed from Kauai to San Francisco. We saw basically no one out at sea, and could have met up with anyone carrying whatever sort of munitions. When we arrived in SF, we sailed/motored to his dock, tied up, were picked up by his wife and went home. No customs agents, no TSA, no nothing. If a nuke were available, I've got no doubt that terrorists would have no trouble killing millions.

  • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @01:40AM (#42841297)

    The Supreme Court doesn't agree about the 100 mile zone. Here is a small excerpt from one decision already rendered on the subject.

    But the search of the petitioner's automobile by a roving patrol, on a California road that lies at all points at least 20 miles north of the Mexican border,[5] was of a wholly different sort. In the absence of probable cause or consent, that search violated the petitioner's Fourth Amendment right to be free of "unreasonable searches and seizures."

    I guess the TSA is ignoring this which means they are laying themselves open to lawsuit. Time to call the lawyers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 09, 2013 @03:23AM (#42841717)

    I regularly sail between Seattle and Vancouver, and never declare myself or register with customs. I've been doing it for decades. I once even called customs like you're supposed to when I docked, and they were confused and told me I didn't need to do anything. The coast guard has stopped me before and doesn't care.
    Its not just the water either. Near Vancouver there are numerous dirt roads that simply go right across the border, and no one seems to care.
    Border security is a joke.

  • by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @05:39AM (#42842069)
    Addendum for fairness - actually I can't afford the snark. We have the same shit in Europe under the Schengen treaty.
  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @07:06AM (#42842311) Homepage
    False [wikipedia.org].
  • by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Saturday February 09, 2013 @09:44AM (#42842755)

    OK so a lot of the posts here seem to be coming from the POV that the govt. has no *real* *good* reason to be doing this. It's an easy road to take, but is it right? How do we know when we don't know the nature of the threats we face? Entertain a thought experiment where actually, in reality, the world has come to the point that this law is necessary.

    Imagine that it all just gets down to logisitics and time constraints of law enforcement facing off against the leverage bio-terrorism, nano-terrorism and computing power give the Bad Guys.

    I am not claiming I know this to be true in reality, just asking you pretend, to be flexible and go there in your mind.

    Probably, it's *going* to be true at some point in the future because offensive destructive capability always outpaces and out muscles defensive capability. Always. It's just easier to find a way to impose huge amounts of entropy on the world than to defend against that imposition. Think nuclear bombs. Think grey goo.

    So pretend the shape of things to come has arrived. How can we geeks, leverage computers and technology to design a legislative/ judicial / law enforcement / social system so that we can do what we need to do to defend ourselves and still retain and even enhance our Fourth Amendment rights?

    There has to be a way to defend not against a nuclear bomb but against losing what makes America America while it defends itself against a nuclear bomb, or looks for the plans for a suitcase nuke or bio-weapon or whatever on someone's computer.

    There has to be a way to meet this challenge on the battlefield that *it* has chosen, where the war is *actually* taking place. What everyone 's complaints amount to a kind of griping about the battleground reality has chosen to fight on. You're *insisting* that the battle be fought *over here* on the territory you know well. That's just not the way war works. The enemy in this case is the reality of bio-terrorism and nano--terrorism and nuclear terrorism and ALSO the way that forces law enforcement's hand and ALSO what that in turn means to us. That's the battleground that reality has chosen; either you show up to the fight or you lose it.

    All these arguments about the Fourth Amendment are a form of not showing up to the fight, of insisting the battle be fought on your familiar turf.

    Science has taken us here, and now we are here. Reality is not going to unwind itself to preserve your idea of privacy or liberty or the Constitution or anything else. That means you have adapt to reality creatively if you want to preserve those things.

    The terrorists know they have to dynamically adapt - nothing is EVER easy for them. The government knows it has to react effectively also. We're the sticks in the mud. We're the unchanging old farts who are dug in and refusing to acknowledge change. Our play in this, our imperative, is to conceive of a way to leverage technology in our affairs so that after we've done everything we need to do or can do to protect ourselves , we also can say -"Yes. I am satisfied and secure that I am protected against unreasonable search and seizure, invasion of my privacy and I *know* that my "papers" are not spied upon, the value they represent not stolen from me, or used against me in any way at all that could be characterized as "unfair" by the government. It can't be built on pure trust, on legislative fiat, because no one trusts that all people, current and future, will honor the law . It has to be built on some ground level facts about reality the way cryptography is built around some ground level facts about factoring numbers and multiplicative inverses. Trust and secrecy are bit players in public key crypto compared to what went on before with secret codes and messages. There has to be a way we can devise a system that gives law enforcement the latitude it knows or believes it needs and still unarguably preserves our way of life. We're just not being creative enough here.

    We build lots of things all day long. The internet itself is so far away from anything even conceivable to our forefathers, it's effectively realized magic. There *has* to be a way we can build something that can achieve both these ends. We *have* to be that clever.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson