Both the fourth circuit and the ninth circuit courts have ruled that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) searches of laptops and other electronics are legal; however, people are still proclaiming their protests. A recent USA Today op-ed accused the CBP practice to be “without focus” and “arbitrar[y].” Constitutional objections have also been invoked, claiming the searches to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
To call on the words of the Fourth Amendment myself, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” is not being violated. The goal of the CBP to stop information relating to terrorist plots and child pornography is perfectly reasonable.
In recent testimony before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate, I made the point that hundreds of millions of people cross the U.S. border each year in numbers approaching twice the population of the United States. By not doing thorough checks at the border, we are essentially giving these hundreds of millions of people free reign in our country. There have been numerous instances where information gathered from terrorist laptops has provided crucial information. Thorough inspections at the border even go beyond protecting against terrorism alone, and venture into the realm of drug, weapons, and human trafficking. Looking at these facts laptop searches are hardly “unreasonable” or “arbitrar[y].”