Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Russ Feingold catches another reason not to fly

The definition of "search" has been expanded so that airport screeners are allowed to turn on your laptop computer and browse through the contents. Now, since I wrote a novel where a computer program can power spaceship engines and weapons, I probably shouldn't be suggesting it's ludicrous to search a computer's contents looking for weapons. But I also don't think technology has unraveled the tenets of imaginary physics yet, either, so yes, I'm saying it's ludicrous to allow airport screeners to "search" laptop computers in this fashion.

The definition of "seizure" is still the same — government agents steal your stuff on the pretext of their searches, however flimsy it may be.

Sen. Russ Feingold is no friend of the First Amendment — he's the co-author of the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection and Repeal of Free Speech Act — but he has read the Fourth Amendment, and he's raising the alarm about airport screeners who have been confiscating laptop computers from non-terrorists.

Feingold's statement says when he asked about this, the response from the Secret Police Department of Homeland Security made reference to a 2007 policy that has not been revealed publicly — "and the policies that have been revealed are truly alarming."
The policies allow DHS to evade the probable cause requirement for seizing a laptop by blurring the distinction between a search and a seizure – defining a “search” to include detaining laptops for an unspecified period of time, taking them off-site, and taking written notes on their contents that can be retained indefinitely.

The policies contain no restrictions on DHS agents’ disclosure of personal information learned through these searches.
Feingold deserves credit for drawing attention to the many ways that civil liberties are being violated in the name of liberty. His critics have a ready answer: Freedom is slavery not free.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home