The government has argued in a pending court case--unrelated to the Customs stops--that it regards a laptop the same as a suitcase. "It should not matter...whether documents and pictures are kept in 'hard copy' form in an executive's briefcase or stored digitally in a computer," the government claims.
According to the ACTE, some corporations have told their executives not to carry confidential business material on laptops on overseas trips. A Canadian law firm sends its lawyers to the United States with laptops free of data--the lawyers then access the information they need over the Internet. And that Cisco engineer now wipes his phone clean before he travels so that his friends and colleagues don't end up on a government list.
On Thursday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus plan to file a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policies on searching and copying the contents of electronic devices. This follows on a Freedom of Information request filed last year by the ACTE asking what happens to the data so seized.The Washington Post