Imagine my surprise when reading the Travel Daily News this morning to find that the ACTE (Association of Corporate Travel Executives) is warning business travelers of just that. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol can view, download or even seize your laptop, files and electronic media for an indefinite amount of time. If it makes you feel any better, this is an equal opportunity law, applying to U.S. passport holders and foreign travelers alike. In addition, this violation of privacy is applicable for people traveling in to or leaving from the U.S.
I’m sure there is some great reason behind the law, like preventing terroristic media from moving around, but it seems a little extreme.
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What does that mean for the business traveler? The supposition is that we should limit the proprietary information we take with us when we travel abroad. These limits probably should be in place, but more out of fear of using an insecure network or theft while traveling. Really, what is a customs agent going to do with your industry information? I’d be more worried about them confiscating naked pictures.
Does that mean they can steal my iPod if I’m suspected of file sharing?