WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly disclosed U.S. government files provide a rare, inside look into the government practice of searching laptop computers and other electronic devices at the border without having to show reasonable suspicion or obtain a judge's approval.
The records were turned over as part of court settlement between the government and David House, a young computer programmer whose advocacy work with the Bradley Manning Support Network landed him on a government watch list. According to his file, agents waited for months for him to leave the country, so they could seize his laptop upon his return at the border. They finally had their opportunity when he took a vacation in Mexico. They held his laptop for weeks before returning it, and acknowledged a year later that he had committed no crime.
The ACLU says the documents suggest federal investigators are using border crossings to investigate Americans in a way that would otherwise violate the Fourth Amendment. The government declined to discuss the case.