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US Homeland Security begins hoarding personal data

The White House is unveiling new rules for searching computers, laptops and other electronic devices when people enter the United States. Civil liberties groups have criticized the measure.

The Department of Homeland Security says the measure is needed to detect information about potential terror plots, as well as copyright infringement and child pornography.

Human rights groups say these rules violate people’s civil liberties, but Harley Geiger, staff counsel from the Center For Democracy And Technology says what Customs and Border Protection is doing is legal.

“Americans have a diminished expectation of privacy at the border,” explains Geiger. “However, when they search laptops, PDAs or cell phones, they actually reveal an enormous amount of information about our personal lives, financial records, relationships, medical history and so forth. These are the things that the Fourth Amendment was designed to protect, and it’s being subverted in the name of national security. So this argument can be made both ways.”

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