Friday, August 1, 2008

international travel and the 4th amendment

i'm heading out of the country in a few days. i'll be gone for almost three weeks, spending on week in tunisia and nearly two weeks in italy. so, when i came across this article in the wapo today, i was intrigued and concerned.

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.
now, i'm no constitutional scholar, but here's the wording of the 4th amendment to the constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
doesn't it seem pretty straightforward that taking your laptop without any suspicion of wrongdoing would be an unreasonable seizure of your effects? when the hell did i move to a third world dictatorship?

the truth is, i'm going to a country where they speak arabic and practice islam. i guarantee you that the TSA folk at dulles when i get back will have all kinds of fun questions for me. i'm looking forward to the trip, but potentially dreading coming back here.


Jeff said...

On Vacation but still comment on DCist? I do more on my trips. FREDTERP

IMGoph said...

i haven't left yet. sorry to disappoint you, but your zinger is a big FAIL

Anonymous said...

Have fun on your trip! I just got back from Melbourne for work - didn't take a laptop (too lazy), but TSA went through my bag and rearranged all the conference materials I brought back, which was weird. It's not like I was sneaking in Vegemite.

- Bethesdaist