The US Department of Homeland Security, never known for their respect of the Constitution, has clarified the policy that allows them to search your laptop and other digital devices when you cross the border into the US. No longer content to simply copy your data and return the device to you, the DHS now claims that they can keep your laptop for an ‘indefinite period’ and enlist the help of outside agencies for the purposes of analysis and decryption. How those outside agencies are supposed to deal with, and/or protect, your sensitive date is not specified.
But the policy goes further. The fact that searches and seizures can be conducted without probable cause is now codified in the policy, and the definition of what can be seized for analysis has been broadened to include: “…any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form… including hard drives, compact discs, DVDs, flash drives, portable music players, cell phones, pagers, beepers, and videotapes.”
The implication of this Constitution-busting nonsense is clear: Either encrypt everything you plan to take cross-border—and be prepared to be fight with Uncle Sam over your encryption keys—or simply find a way to get at your data once you’re outside the US.
Foreign national may as well forget about coming here in the first place.