Mohamed Shommo, an engineer for Cisco Systems Inc., travels overseas several times a year for work, so he is accustomed to opening his bags for border inspections upon returning to the U.S. But in recent years, these inspections have gone much deeper than his luggage...

After civil liberty groups brought it up, in July, Homeland Security released a formal policy stating that federal agents can search documents and electronic devices at the border without suspicion. The procedures also allow border agents to detain documents and devices for "a reasonable period of time" to perform a thorough search "on-site or at an off-site location."

The problem with this policy, argues Marcia Hofmann, staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is that the contents of a laptop or other digital device are fundamentally different than those of a typical suitcase.

Saturday, December 20, 2008
Associated Press