An editorial in today's NY Times asks Congress to make Homeland Security stop seizing the laptops and phones of US citizens returning from overseas travel. Like that will ever happen.
There have been widespread reports of the government searching — and often seizing — laptops, BlackBerrys, iPhones and other portable electronic devices at airports. It is not clear how often these searches occur, and the government will not say. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives says that of 100 people who responded to a survey it conducted this year, 7 said they had had a laptop or other electronic device seized.
Laptop owners rightly complain that the program violates the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. Their legal objections, however, have not fared well. In April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco upheld a laptop search at Los Angeles International Airport. After this disappointing decision, Congress needs to act.