USA Border Searches of Laptops..

♫ Everyone has a secret
But can they keep it
Oh no they can’t…♫

Lyrics and music by: Adam Levine, Jesse Carmichael, recorded by Maroon 5.

The CBA has released: Laptop Searches at the Border: What the Revised U.S. Guidelines Say on their PracticeLink web page.

As they state:

For the frequent business traveller, it bears repeating: U.S. Customs officers have the authority to search and detain any device capable of storing electronic information for any reason; they can examine the electronic device without the traveller present; they can copy from the device or “detain” the device; and they do not need to obtain the traveller’s consent to conduct the search. “Electronic devices” can include computers, BlackBerrys or similar devices, cell phones, travel drives, DVDs and CD-ROMs, cameras, music and other electronic media players.

The revised guidelines allow a lawyer to state that the device contains documents against which a claim of attorney-client privilege or attorney work product may be made and initiates a procedure to be followed. While this may be somewhat reassuring, it would be my opinion that traveling to the USA with a ‘clean’ device that only contains remote access software is the safest way to go. After all, every lawyer wants to be able to keep any secrets that they have been given.


  1. These policies have gone positively off the dial in their insanity. They can used to justify enormous invasions of privacy and extreme inconvenience for no articulable purpose whatsoever. The notion that getting on an airplane is an implied or express waiver of one’s digital privacy is absurd.

    I’m curious if anyone is aware what the Canadian policy is both for international flights coming into Canada as well as searches of customers travelling domestically entirely within Canada.