The Obama administration has continued a Bush administration policy which permits officers at U.S. borders to detain travelers’ laptop computers and examine their contents even without suspecting the traveler of wrongdoing—or, in the language of DHS policy, “absent individualized suspicion”; in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of New York, the plaintiffs allege that DHS policy of substituting “search at will” for “reasonable suspicion” violates constitutional rights to privacy and free speech.
6,671 travelers laptops or other devices (phones, digital devices ) were searched between October 2008 and June 2010, according to the ACLU:
• Slightly less than half — 45 percent — were U.S. citizens
• 83 percent were male
• 52 percent identified as white
• 10 percent as black
• 9 percent as Asian
The policy also permits agencies under certain circumstances to share the data found on travelers’ devices, which was done 282 times between July 2008 and July 2009, according to the ACLU.