Bill Hogan was returning home to the U.S. from Germany in February when a customs agent at Dulles International Airport pulled him aside. He could reenter the country, she told him. But his laptop couldn't. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents said he had been chosen for "random inspection of electronic media," and kept his computer for about two weeks, recalled Hogan, 55, a freelance journalist from Falls Church, Va.
Fortunately, it was a spare computer that had little important information. But Hogan felt violated.
"It's not an inspection. It's a seizure," he said. "What do they do with it? I assume they just copy everything."
For several years, U.S. officials have been searching and seizing laptops, digital cameras, cellphones and other electronic devices at the border with few publicly released details. Complaints from travelers and privacy advocates have spurred some lawmakers to fight the U.S. Customs policy and to consider sponsoring legislation that would sharply limit the practice.
As people store more and more information electronically, the debate hinges on whether searching a laptop is like looking in your luggage or more like a strip search.
Read more at - 'Laptop seizures at customs raise outcry'