February 08, 2008

May I see your papers?

Customs and Border agents are being a little intrusive in their searches. Two issues here:

1) An electronic device should be as secure as a briefcase. You may be able to look inside the briefcase, but you can't look AT the contents. A computer is the same thing, but easier. You should only be able to xray the damn thing. It's not like anyone has managed to digitize a bomb and put it in a Word document. Unless you count a conference call agenda.

"It's one thing to say it's reasonable for government agents to open your luggage," said David D. Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University. "It's another thing to say it's reasonable for them to read your mind and everything you have thought over the last year. What a laptop records is as personal as a diary but much more extensive. It records every Web site you have searched. Every e-mail you have sent. It's as if you're crossing the border with your home in your suitcase."

2) WTF? Profiling?

Customs sometimes singles out passengers for extensive questioning and searches based on "information from various systems and specific techniques for selecting passengers," including the Interagency Border Inspection System, according to a statement on the CBP Web site. "CBP officers may, unfortunately, inconvenience law-abiding citizens in order to detect those involved in illicit activities," the statement said. But the factors agents use to single out passengers are not transparent, and travelers generally have little access to the data to see whether there are errors.

Although Customs said it does not profile by race or ethnicity, an officers' training guide states that "it is permissible and indeed advisable to consider an individual's connections to countries that are associated with significant terrorist activity."

"What's the difference between that and targeting people because they are Arab or Muslim?" Cole said, noting that the countries the government focuses on are generally predominantly Arab or Muslim.

What's next? Allowing the fuckers at TSA to do shit like this? Congress needs to act to restrict this kind 'security'.

(h/t to BlueBloggin')

Posted by mcblogger at February 8, 2008 02:14 PM

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