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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; . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Technology

Border Crossings and Laptops – I Don’t Get It

Simon posted US Homeland Security’s new rules on laptop searches for those crossing the border into the US. While there are some guidelines, they basically have the unfettered discretion to look at everything that is on one’s laptop.

Frankly, I don’t get it. It strikes me as a total waste of time and effort on their part. It inconveniences and intrudes on normal people crossing the border – with little chance of finding any terrorist or criminal information. And how are issues like trade-mark and copyright infringement relevant to crossing the border?

This strikes me as more security theatre.

The . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

New Rules on Crossing the Border With Laptops

Slaw readers crossing the US border should read closely the folloing statement issued this morning by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: 202-282-8010

CBP Border Search of Electronic Devices Containing Information

(PDF, 10 pages – 4.87 MB)
ICE Border Searches of Electronic Media (PDF, 10 pages – 453 KB)
Privacy Impact Assessment: Border Searches of Electronic Information
(PDF, 51 pages – 6 MB)

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced new directives to enhance and clarify oversight for searches of computers . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law, Technology

U.S. Searches of Laptops at Border Questioned

We’ve talked half a dozen times on Slaw about the United States Border Services’ practice of instituting suspicionless searches of travellers’ laptops, recommending basically that lawyers take nothing but a clean machine across the border.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union has made a formal request under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act for records setting out or touching upon policies establishing and governing this practice, as well as data as to the number of searches, the characteristics of persons whose devices were searched, and so forth. The official request adumbrates the ACLU argument that these searches may infringe the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology

CBA on Securing Laptops to Cross U.S. Border

The Canadian Bar Assocation’s Practice Link has a substantial and practical article by Luigi Benetton, “How to Secure Your Laptop Before Crossing the Border.” Benetton sets out ten steps you can and should take if you’re planning to travel to the U.S. with a laptop used in your practice:

  1. Be Anonymous [… which is not a sure thing, hence… ]
  2. Travel with a “Bare” Computer
  3. Turn Off Your Computer, Early
  4. Back Up Your Data
  5. Use a Different User Account to Hold Sensitive Information
  6. Partition and Encrypt Your Entire Hard Drive
  7. Protect FireWire Ports
  8. Store Data on Small Devices
. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Technology

Laptops and Cross-Border Security

An article in today’s Washington Post addresses a number of instances in which U.S. border security personnel have invaded the privacy of traveller’s laptops, requiring them in some cases to yield their ID’s and passwords and in some cases confiscating the equipment. The people whose computers have been the subject of American interference are described by the author of the article as typical business travellers.

I believe it would make sense for other Canadian law firms to do as Blaney McMurtry LLP has done and travel across the U.S. border with completely clean, i.e. empty, laptops. Lou Brzezinski of Blaney . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology

Cloud Data Should Stay Grounded in Border Searches

Crossing the American border with electronic devices has long been a concern for both the public and lawyers in Canada. Border officials have always had more power to inspect or search electronic devices than domestic police, but this has also raised some concerns for American citizens as well.

While the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), does not apply to data stored on a personal device, this information is still protected in the U.S. under the Fourth Amendment. The notable exceptions to this include search incident to arrest and border searches. The Supreme Court of the United States has justified this . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Crossing Borders With Digital Devices

Lots of lawyers have been worried about having their digital devices inspected at the U.S. border in recent years, and more so under the current administration – but there are other countries that are not generally trusted either.

The New York City Bar Association has issued an ethics opinion telling lawyers they need to take special steps to protect confidential and privileged client information in such circumstances – possibly including using ‘burner’ phones or laptops (ones with no confidential info, and that the owner can burn or otherwise just throw away after coming back from the country in question).

The . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

FMC on Border Crossing

There’s a good little piece from Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP on the legal state of play when it comes to taking your laptops and PDAs across the U.S.-Canada border. “Electronic Devices and Borders – A Privacy-Free Zone?” by Edmonton Associate Dana Bissoondatt cites chapter and verse and mentions as well that Canada has taken up the practice of peeping, it seems.

We’ve broached this topic before on Slaw in
Laptops and Cross-Border Security, and
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Resources. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Loose Laptops Cause Flops


Perhaps encryption isn’t so easy after all, and some people could use a little primer. This is how I protect my laptop….

Wired – “How Does Bruce Schneier Protect His Laptop Data? With His Fists — and PGP

After a discussion among academics about the perils of crossing the U.S. border with your laptop full of research data, I began to wonder how diligent law firms are in ensuring that nothing leaves the office on a laptop that is unsecured. The shocking incident in which Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs lost a couple of disks containing private . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Substantive Law, Technology

Monday’s Mix

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canada’s award­-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from more than 80 recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. Family Health Law Blog 2. Canadian Privacy Law Blog 3. Kate Dewhirst 4. Great LEXpectations 5. Environmental Law and Litigation

Family Health Law Blog
Can your ex legally refuse to vaccinate your kids?

An Ontario man, AP, entered family law arbitration to advocate for the vaccination of

. . . [more]
Posted in: Monday’s Mix