Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.
Canadians will bear the brunt of this initiative because Canadians travel into the United States more than people of any other country.
Canada and the United States share the largest bilateral flow of goods, services, people and capital between any two countries in the world.
Canada is the number one market for products and services for 36 of the 50 states.
Michigan alone is Canada's largest market in the world, ahead of the United Kingdom, Japan and China.
Canadians travel to America not only for pleasure, but business more than any other people.
DHS claims the border search of electronic information is useful to detect terrorists, drug smugglers, and people violating "copyright or trademark laws." (Readers: Are you sure your iPod and laptop have absolutely no illicitly downloaded songs? You might be guilty of a felony.)
This is not only your laptop, but your MP3 player, Blackberry, cell phone, PDA, flash drive, still camera, video camera, notes, books, tapes and any other method you may have to store data in any form.
Currently the Travel Report site of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada's website mentions electronic devices may be subject to security checks, but does not explicitly mention possible seizure.
At the very least, if you are travelling into America, back up your data (which you should be doing on a regular basis anyway), but it may be worth considering what devices you need to bring and what data you need to have with you.
Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border [Washington Post]
Homeland Security: We can seize laptops for an indefinite period [CNET]
Security guide to customs-proofing your laptop [CNET]
United States Travel Report [Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada]
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