Behind the Headlines Video
From Michigan to Texas. Maine to Oregon. If you live or travel in these regions then listen very carefully.
The Department of Homeland Security has announced it has the authority of seize personal electronic devices: laptops, tablets, smart phones, cameras, CDs, DVDs.
Anything that stores information. From anyone traveling near the border. And download any information contained. No warrant. No probable cause. Nor even suspicion a crime may have been committed. It can do it to anyone. Anytime. For any reason. Or no reason at all.
DHS says it can do this in the name of national security.
[Details on how the Customs & Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will implement the seizure policy are detailed here and here.]
It's even worse than you think. The government argues the border area extends 100 miles into the U.S. Not just where the U.S. borders Canada and Mexico. It includes the coastlines.
Draw a 100 mile arc inside the outline of the US and everyone in this region could have their electronic devices confiscated by federal agents for no reason whatsoever.
This impacts nearly two of every three or about 190 million Americans. [Nearly one-half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of the two coasts.]
Historically, the courts have given wide latitude to Border Patrol agents arguing their border crossing inspections don't violate the Constitution's Fourth Amendment.
[The Obama Administration announced the new policy in August 2009 but delayed full implementation until after the DHS's internal civil rights/civil liberties impact assessment was completed. This assessment was posted online on January 29, 2013.]
The Obama Administration recently confirmed its implementation of the seizure policy claiming the law and the Constitution were on its side.
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