TSA to download your iTunes?

Government moves to expand Constitution-free zones

Editorial
The Washington Times
4/18/2010

Federal security workers are now free to snoop through more than just your undergarments and luggage at the airport. Thanks to a recent series of federal court decisions, the digital belongings of international fliers are now open for inspection. This includes reading the saved e-mails on your laptop, scanning the address book on your iPhone or BlackBerry and closely scrutinizing your digital vacation snapshots.

Unlike the more common confiscations of dangerous Evian bottles and fingernail clippers, these searches are not being done in the name of safety. The digital seizures instead are part of a disturbing trend of federal agencies using legal gimmicks to sidestep Fourth Amendment constitutional protections. This became clear in an April 8 court ruling that found admissible the evidence obtained by officials who had peeped at a passenger’s laptop files at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston…

…simply because a U.S. citizen is returning from a foreign country by airplane, the government thinks it is a “routine” matter to download sensitive business documents, personal correspondence and any other information that might be saved on a laptop or cell phone, regardless of whether there is any reason to suspect the traveler of a crime.

The danger of this chain of reasoning is magnified by the courts’ expansive definition of “border,” which now includes checkpoints operating up to 100 miles from Canada or Mexico. Those traveling on the highway between Los Angeles and Phoenix, for example, may find themselves stopped by Department of Homeland Security officers who, literally, ask travelers to show their papers. Drug dogs also can be brought in to search vehicles without probable cause…

Read the entire article at the Washington Times.

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