U.S. agents can seize travelers’ laptops

Hang on to your pantaloons ladies and germs, it seems like “Big Brother” is at it again! Just went over this article : U.S. agents can seize travelers’ laptops: report from Reuters and things are looking a bit scary out there. I could understand the issues about terrorism but at the same time I think this is putting peoples privacy on a precarious footing. Here is an excerpt:

“DHS officials said the policies applied to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens, and were needed to prevent terrorism.”

Here is the part that is somewhat questionable:

“The policies require federal agents to take measures to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material. They stipulate that any copies of the data must be destroyed when a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information.”

Hmm, I really wonder about that. What about personal stuff? What about that political essay you did for your class assignment? What about that new idea you have about ecologically friendly fuel you are planning to patent? Wouldn’t the oil industry be interested in that and who is to say that some government agent wouldn’t seize it on their behalf?

I don’t know, but we seem to be coming to a point in our history that is putting us dangerously close to a Stasi Commission like state. In view of the recent blunders by the FBI which lead to the lawsuit filed by Steven J. Hatfill, a former Army biodefense researcher intensively investigated as a “person of interest” in the deadly anthrax letters of 2001. There he accused F.B.I. agents and Justice Department officials involved in the criminal investigation of the anthrax mailings of leaking information about him to the news media in violation of the Privacy Act. He won the case and the Justice Department had to pay him $4.6 million but look at what it cost him because the information was leaked!
So even though technically the various agencies involved are supposed to destroy any copies what is to keep them from “ leaking “ any “knowledge” of whatever information they might find that is “not” terrorist related? What about intra-agency dispersal of this information that is “not” terrorist related? While the above mentioned investigation was terrorist related Steven J. Hatfill was determined to have been unfairly targeted otherwise why grant him the $4.6 million.
Now former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said the FBI has not given him any new updates. He also raised questions about the quality of the investigation, noting that the government recently paid out almost $6 million to a former Army scientist, Steven Hatfill, who accused authorities of unfairly targeting him in the anthrax case.

One can begin to see the inherent dangers involved here. What about watchdog agencies or congressional over-site committees regarding these issues?

Just imagine you had a secret, innocent liaison with a member of the opposite sex to plan a surprise party and this was in your seized laptop and the information was “leaked” to the media with insinuations of a romantic nature, what do you think the results would be if at the same time you are married, and hold a position that requires high moral standards? Your not going to tell me that the “leaked” information is not going to affect your life!
As you can see we are not talking about terrorist related information.
The possible situational examples number into the thousands if not more. Lets not forget that poor guy who’s name is the same as some other guy that is on the No Fly list! I guess he is going to have to spend the rest of his life proving that he is not the person that is on that list.
I begin to wonder how many innocent people have already been affected by this.


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