And Another Right Bites The Dust.

Federal Judge Upholds Warrantless Search of Passengers’ Laptops and Other Devices.

Your rights to privacy, free speech and unreasonable searches and seizures have just taken a giant hit. A Federal District Judge in New York has just ripped the guts out of the 4th Amendment to the U S Constitution.

Warrantless searches without probable cause or even suspicion are now part of a broader pattern of aggressive government surveillance that collects information on the average presumed innocent American citizen, under lax standards, and without adequate oversight.

 

A federal judge in New York on December 31 upheld a government policy that permits officers at U.S. borders to inspect and copy the contents of travelers’ laptops and other devices without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman dismissed a lawsuit by a university student and a group of criminal defense lawyers and press photographers challenging regulations adopted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that allow searches of passengers’ electronic equipment at the nation’s borders, including at airports and on trains.Full coverage: NSA Secrets

 

 

The plaintiffs, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, allege that the policy violates their rights to privacy and free speech.

Korma, a judge in the Eastern District of New York, said that the policy permits searches with or without suspicion, and cited case law that held that “searches at our borders without probable cause and without a warrant are nonetheless ‘reasonable.’”
He said that “there is about a 10 in a million chance” that a U.S. citizen or foreigner’s laptop will be searched. Two federal appeals courts have held that searches of electronic devices are routine border searches.
One federal appeals court has held that some searches may require reasonable suspicion.
One of the plaintiffs, university student Pascal Abidor, had his laptop inspected and taken by Customs and Border Protection officers while he was on an Amtrak train from Montreal to New York in May 2010. It was returned 11 days later.
Abidor could prove no injury from the laptop’s confiscation and in any case, Korman said, the officers had reasonable suspicion to inspect it.
Abidor, an Islamic studies scholar and a dual French-American citizen, had images of rallies by the militant Islamist groups Hamas and Hezbollah on his laptop.
Catherine Crump, the ACLU attorney who argued the case in July 2011, expressed disappointment at the ruling.
“Suspicionless searches of devices containing vast amounts of personal information cannot meet the standard set by the Fourth Amendment of the U s Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures,” Crump said in a statement. “Unfortunately, these searches are part of a broader pattern of aggressive government surveillance that collects information on too many innocent people, under lax standards, and without adequate oversight.”
The ACLU is considering an appeal.

(By Ellen Nakashima)

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Categories: Constitutional Law | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “And Another Right Bites The Dust.

  1. The investigative journalist who founded the Center for Media and Democracy, John Stauber, said in an interview with the left-wing magazine CounterPunch that Wall Street owns both major parties in the U.S. “The situation today is this: both the Democratic and Republican Parties represent the interests of the most powerful corporate elite in America,” he said. “Neither party will ever represent the fundamental radical democratic changes we need to take wealth away from the small percentage who have concentrated it in their hands, and to empower people in a democracy. Let me repeat that: neither party will ever serve economic and political democracy. … Democracy is all but dead, snuffed out by centuries of a corporate economic system that has concentrated wealth and thus political power in the hands of an elite.”

  2. A top-secret National Security Agency hacking unit infiltrates computers around the world and breaks into the toughest data targets, according to internal documents quoted in a magazine report on Sunday. Details of how the division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), steals data and inserts invisible “back door” spying devices into computer systems were published by the German magazine Der Spiegel. The magazine portrayed TAO as an elite team of hackers specialising in gaining undetected access to intelligence targets that have proved the toughest to penetrate through other spying techniques, and described its overall mission as “getting the ungettable.”

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