Today the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) issued an alert about internal policies in the Department of Homeland Security regarding border crossing. Under previous policies, Customs and Border Patrol agents were authorized to seize any electronic and print materials if they had probable cause of illegal activity. Under current internal policies, agents have the authority to retain print and electronic materials indefinitely at the borders regardless of probable cause.
AAUP notes special concern for professors conducting research and traveling across borders, citing possible threats to those conducting research (or collaborating with colleagues) around the world. The policies are also alarming for libraries, information professionals, and anyone concerned with protecting privacy rights and defending civil liberties.
“Expanded Powers to Search Travelers at Border Detailed” Washington Post, 9/23/08
“Search and Replace” [editorial], Washington Post, 8/13/08
“US Border Agency Says It Can Seize Laptops” PC World, 8/3/08
“Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border: No Suspicion Required Under DHS Policies” Washington Post, 8/1/08