Friday, December 08, 2006

Who knew ...

Joe Sharkey at The New York Times wrote an article that sent chills through me ...

Why?
Because it's yet another sign that America is no longer the land of the free.

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 U.S. 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 a thousand 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," said Tim Kane, a Washington lawyer who is researching the matter for corporate clients. "They can do it without suspicion or without really revealing their motivations."


Oddly enough, it becomes another reason not to fly to the US ... love the people, can't deal with the politics and paranoia of the president and those who make his policies.

Thanks for passing it on Erin ...

3 comments:

paris parfait said...

Thanks for posting this link on my site. It is just shocking that this sort of thing is allowed to happen. The more people who know about it, the better.

Liza said...

That's frightening! The problem with American security is that they essentially know what they're trying to do, but they don't seem to have a clue as to how to go about it.

On one of our visits several years ago, my husband and I flew to the US together, but once at Newark Airport, he was to fly on to Colorado and I was going to Florida. My husband is Persian and looks Middle Eastern, especially after a 12-hour flight. He told me afterwards that he wasn't scrutinized at all in the airport, whereas at my gate to Florida, I overheard many passengers (all senior citizens) talking about how they'd had to remove shoes, belts, etc. I'm sorry, but what's the point? They go overboard in their bid not to profile.

woman wandering said...

Thanks for posting it Tara ... and yes, everyone should know.

Liza ... it is that bizarre oftentimes, isn't it. Harassing senior citizens makes no sense at all, harassing in general is annoying as per Raed's story, the one where he was asked to take of his t-shirt with some Arabic writing on it otherwise he wouldn't be allowed on the plane ...

Ahhh the 21st century.