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Homeland Security Privacy Office Okays Suspicionless Seizure of Personal Information Stored on Digital Devices of US Citizens

The Department of Homeland Security released a Privacy Impact Assessment for searching electronic devices possessed by travelers, including US citizens, at US borders. The agency determined that laptops and cell phones are equivalent to briefcases and backpacks and granted itself broad authority to seize these devices from travelers and to copy stored data whether or not wrongdoing is suspected. The DHS policy fails to comply with the intent of the federal Privacy Act and leaves US citizens returning to the United States subject to surveillance by government and an enhanced risk of identity theft. See EPIC Traveler Privacy.

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