your laptop is legally an extension of your mind?

Photo of man inside laptop, reaching out. By Cayusa at Flickr, CC licenced.Kristine Lowe links to this Wired story about a case where US border security searched the computer of a US citizen coming from from abroad, and found illegal material on his laptop. The court found that searching the laptop was illegal and refused to hear the case. What’s particularly interesting is the reason the judge gave for treating information on laptops differently from other personal items:

“Electronic storage devices function as an extension of our own memory,” Judge Dean Pregerson wrote. “They are capable of storing our thoughts, ranging from the most whimsical to the most profound. Therefore, government intrusions into the mind — specifically those that would cause fear or apprehension in a reasonable person — are no less deserving of Fourth Amendment scrutiny than intrusions that are physical in nature.”

The government, of course, disagrees, and with a rather Orwellian reason:

“If allowed to stand, the district court’s decision will seriously undermine the nation’s vital interest in protecting its borders by removing the significant deterrent effect of suspicionless searches,” reads the filing.

I wonder whether this kind of issue has been tested in other countries’ jurisdiction?
(Photo by CayUSA)

08. July 2007 by Jill

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