DHS Explanation for Laptop Search Policy Rejected
The mighty power of the WashingtonWatch.com blog demonstrates itself again! I posted here at 5:37 p.m. on August 5th about searching laptops at the borders and the bill to require reasonable suspicion for doing so.
Undoubtedly in direct response to my raising the issue, the Department of Homeland Security’s Deputy Commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Jayson Ahern, rushed out an explanation for the Department’s policies. At 5:40 – just 3 minutes later! – he wrote:
In the 21st century, terrorists and criminals increasingly use laptops and other electronic media to transport illicit materials that were traditionally concealed in bags, containers, notebooks and paper documents. Making full use of our search authorities with respect to items like notebooks and backpacks, while failing to do so with respect to laptops and other devices, would ensure that terrorists and criminals receive less scrutiny at our borders just as their use of technology is becoming more sophisticated.
Alas, Ayhern’s argument doesn’t hold any water. Data is entirely different from physical items. It can be shipped across the border on the Internet. Searching digital devices for noxious ideas or whatever will only turn up the wrongdoing of nincompoops so dumb as to present no danger to the country.
The comments on his post make this point a dozen ways. Restricting the DHS to inspecting data devices when it has reasonable suspicion is, well, reasonable.
Thanks for responding, Jayson, but you should have thought about it a little more than three minutes.