ACLU Cheat Sheet
There’s been much chatter recently about border officers and customs officials conducting searches of your laptop. Agents have been demanding log-ins, passwords, and running searches of file types and documents. Various travel sites from RickSeaney at Farecompare to the Consumerist have seen active discussions and tips from readers offering various methods of circumventing these searches.
My recommendation to prevent this is to follow my one main computer mantra: “treat all of your computers as dummy terminals,” meaning all of your content such as photos, music, documents, and writings should NEVER be stored on a PC hard drive, but rather an external and separate hard drive, or backed up to CDs and flash drives, or an FTP site. (Preferably two or more.) Storing off site, whether a memory tucked deep inside your shoe or your files on a server means you’ll avoid the prying eyes of our government, and never lose data should your hard drive crash.
I can’t remember which commenter from what site I read this on, but someone posted a link to the local phone numbers of the ACLU. If you’re a U.S. Citizen arriving back home and feel that you’re being unnecessarily detained or threatened, or if you the scope your personal and property searches are excessive, you can give your local chapter a call. Yes some may consider the ACLU the most liberal defenders of insane causes and extreme nutcases – but the same can be said for lawyers. You’re happy to have one when needed.
Granted this might only help during daytime hours, but having a direct local person to call could generate instant action, and get a case started immediately. Perhaps with media attention too. I’m not one to offer legal advice, but this handy list might be a good tool to have on hand.