Amidst serious foreign and security threat, another interesting issue rises: the legality of Laptop computers and other personal digital assistant (PDA) and other devices which are now being subject of border and warrant less searches.
A federal judge in a case of an officer who found a child pornography on the laptop of a man who flew into Los Angeles International Airport from the Philippine suppressed the evidence laptop, ruling that electronic storage devices are extensions of the human memory and should not be opened to inspection without cause.
A U.S. case law on Sebastian Boucher ruled that forcing Boucher to surrender the password of his laptop would be unconstitutional thus violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by revealing the contents of the files.
These are among the novel issues effected by border inspection. The reasonableness of which greatly depends on the judicial analysis of affected state. Politically, these inspection carries great weight on the governments legitimate interest in the subject of the search against the personal legitimate privacy right.
In the case of United States vs. Cotterman, it is ruled that property, such as a laptop and other electronic storage devices, presented for inspection when entering the United States at the border may be transported to a secondary site for adequate inspection, even if there is no reason for suspicion. So long as the property has not been officially cleared for entry into the United States and remains in the control of the government, any further search is simply a continuation of the original border search — the entirely of which is justified by the government’s border search power.
Government agents are not required to have reasonable suspicion before searching laptops or other digital devices at the border, including international airports as stressed in the case of United States vs. Arnold.
Given these varying geographical circumstance, it is but obvious that there is an excusable reason for the intrusion on laptops and other devices. Then again the issue of deprivation of right to privacy must be considered as well for the conferring absolute authority to government personnel to subject the techie devices would also mean sacrificing the personal rights of the owner. For this, it is with belief that these border searches or warrant less searches must not in all be applied unconditionally it must be rigorously regulated . As what the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution the search must be acquaint with reasonable suspicion.