Welcome to Nazi Germany. The land where anything can be seized by your federal government on suspicion of whatever the heck they want.
A LOT of business travelers are walking around with laptops that contain private corporate information that their employers really do not want outsiders to see.
Until recently, their biggest concern was that someone might steal the laptop. But now there’s a new worry — that the laptop will be seized or its contents scrutinized at United States customs and immigration checkpoints upon entering the United States from abroad.
Although much of the evidence for the confiscations remains anecdotal, it’s a hot topic this week among more than 1,000 corporate travel managers and travel industry officials meeting in Barcelona at a conference of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives.
Last week, an informal survey by the association, which has about 2,500 members worldwide, indicated that almost 90 percent of its members were not aware that customs officials have the authority to scrutinize the contents of travelers’ laptops and even confiscate laptops for a period of time, without giving a reason.
“One member who responded to our survey said she has been waiting for a year to get her laptop and its contents back,” said Susan Gurley, the group’s executive director. “She said it was randomly seized. And since she hasn’t been arrested, I assume she was just a regular business traveler, not a criminal.”
Appeals are under way in some cases, but the law is clear. “They don’t need probable cause to perform these searches under the current law. They can do it without suspicion or without really revealing their motivations,” said Tim Kane, a Washington lawyer who is researching the matter for corporate clients.
Remember if you frequent the Tijuana/San Ysidro Border Area leave your computers at home or ship them. Because Uncle Sam might make them disappear just because he wants to.