Border safety – for your laptop

Few people know this, but in the same way that US Customs guards can search your luggage, they may turn on your laptop and browse, copy, or delete any file that they want to without probable cause. In some cases, officials have seized computers for weeks at a time, while they copy hard drives for later review.

Before a flight to London, federal agents told Maria Udy, a UK citizen working in Maryland, that her company laptop would be seized for a “security concern.”

"I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight," she told the Washington Post. Federal officials took Udy’s username and password and “assured that my laptop would be given back to me in 10 or 15 days.”

Several court cases have revolved around whether your hard drive can testify against you. And questions still linger about what files may be seized – all of them or just the illegal stuff? For now, the answers are “yes” and “all of them.”

While some companies draft recommendations to protect for their globetrotting employees, a CNET blogger has posted some tips for individuals. These can save you from the embarrassment and hassle of having your laptop scanned during your next international trip.

The gist: Before you leave the country, back up everything on your computer. Cleanse your hard drive of questionable material – “this includes any copyrighted content which you may not be able to prove you own.” And if you’re worried, encrypt your files and upload them to a secure Internet host (he explains how to do that).

For the full picture, here’s the link.

Also check out:
More extensive tourist fingerprinting comes to U.S. ports
Border crackdown jams US federal courts
Hannaford's breach is a warning for your PC

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