Protecting information at border crossings

Published 31 August 2009

DHS reasserted its right to search, even without a cause, laptops at border crossings; travelers may want to make sure their data are safe

Last week, DHS reaffirmed its right to search and seize any electronic device crossing the U.S. border it wants without probable cause. Despite arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union that this policy remains unconstitutional, there are other, more practical fears, such as protecting sensitive business information.

For those travelers who do not trust the government safely to store the information they scan from their electronic devices, PC World has some advice.

If you’re traveling for business and have important files you’ll need on your trip, it wouldn’t hurt to save them to multiple locations so you aren’t left without them. Better yet, use Google Docs or another Internet-based storage system to ensure your private information stays private.

In the case of a search, [Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE)] recommends you inform the agent that you have sensitive information on your computer. Try to get your concern noted in writing; at least, be sure to express it verbally. ACTE says this will help you retain more legal rights for registering your concern.