From the Department of Public Safety and General Preparedness comes this story of one man, a Cisco engineer, and his headline-making ordeal of having his possessions searched upon re-entry to the U.S. following an international flight. (It’s also the story of run-on sentences.) The man, Mohamed Shommo, told the Associated Press that border agents rifled through his digital camera’s photos, his Google searches and the files on his iPod. That’s all done in the name of Your Safety, mind.
No, we can’t have this, can we? No, says privacy advocates. They, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and various Muslim rights folks, say that such searches are unreasonable and very mean. The rookie officer at Customs doesn’t need to look at your Google history to protect the homeland, they argue. Certain members of Congress agree, and now there’s several bills milling about that may actually pass next year. One such bill would require customs officials to officially be suspicious of a traveler in order to search his electronic belongings. (Right now, those same officials merely have to be “awake” and “in a foul mood” to be able to search your stuff.)
Your best bet, I think, is to travel with an unreasonable number of gadgets. That way, the young gun at customs elects to wave you through rather than search 10 cellphones, three laptops, two camcorders, four digital cameras, etc. Be a nuisance, then.