April 21, 2008

Electronic Devices and Searches [5:47 pm]

Court says search of laptop with porn is legal (pdf)

A lower court agreed with Arnold, but on Monday the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision, saying reasonable suspicion is not necessary to check laptops or other electronic devices coming over border checkpoints.

“Arnold has failed to distinguish how the search of his laptop and its electronic contents is logically any different from the suspicion-less border searches of travelers’ luggage that the Supreme Court and we have allowed,” Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for a three-judge panel.

Local copy of the opinion; see earlier posting: Searches and Digital Devices

From the opinion:

With respect to these searches, the Supreme Court has refused to draw distinctions between containers of information and contraband with respect to their quality or nature for purposes of determining the appropriate level of Fourth Amendment protection. Arnold’s analogy to a search of a home based on a laptop’s storage capacity is without merit. [...]

[...] Moreover, case law does not support a finding that a search which occurs in an otherwise ordinary manner, is “particularly offensive” simply due to the storage capacity of the object being searched. [...]

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