The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over its policies that allegedly authorize the search and seizure of laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices without a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the National Press Photographers Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Pascal Abidor, a Brooklyn resident. The ACLU claims Abidor was detained for several hours without being charged and his laptop was seized for 11 days by U.S. Custom and Border Protection officers when he returned to New York from Montreal by train in May.
In addition, the ACLU said that more than 6,600 travelers were subject to electronic-device searches at border crossings between Oct. 1, 2008, and June 2, 2010.
In response, DHS spokesman Mathew Chandler said, "While we cannot comment on pending litigation, searches of laptops and other electronic media during secondary inspection are a targeted tool that CBP uses in limited circumstances to ensure that dangerous people and unlawful goods do not enter our country."