Laptop and Electronic Device Seizure by US Customs

August 5, 2008

Three years ago an Onsite Computer laptop was seized by US Customs and Border Protection upon my reentry into the US following a visit to Paris. The Customs agent claimed I was part of a random search that was crucial to stopping terrorism, drug smuggling, child pornography, and anything that violated export or import control laws. My luggage was searched and my laptop was confiscated.

At 3:00 AM in the morning, following a seven hour plane ride, what are your options when dealing with the bureaucracy and people carrying guns? I filled our some forms and relinquished my laptop, unsure of a return date. Two weeks later, my laptop arrived via USPS. When considering the inconvenience of ‘losing’ my laptop to inquiring eyes, I learned to leave my laptop at home when traveling abroad.

Yesterday, I was returning from a visit to Belize and upon our arrival entered the area of Customs and Border Protection. In front of me in the customs line, a retired school teacher, 75 years old, was informed she was selected for the next random search. The grandmother of seven was very surprised as CBP agents searched her luggage and confiscated her camera and I-phone.

It is beyond the scope of Onsite’s blog to debate personal rights and freedoms. There is little doubt that some means of screening to stop terrorism, drug smuggling, child pornography, and other threats to our export and import laws is necessary. However the purpose of this blog is to disseminate technology information to Onsite clients and others.

If you’re traveling abroad, be aware that upon your return US Customs can seize for examination, with no guarantee of return date or condition, anything that stores electronic information: laptops, cell phones and cameras, flash drives, MP3 players, CDs, DVDs, etc. If at all possible, leave your laptop and email your necessary data or use a remote desktop product to access your information and programs. A backup of your cell phone information is always advisable and a FedEx of your other electronic devices/media to the US will save time in Customs.

If you’re searching for New Orleans computer service or repair of your Microsoft based system or network, then call the Microsoft specialists at 504-469-6991. Onsite Computer Services, Inc. in New Orleans

You may also be interested in Onsite Computer’s Blog.

This New Orleans On-Site Computer Service post was provided by Eli Lucas. Eli can be reached at eli@onsitenola.com. Onsite Computer serves the Microsoft computing needs of small businesses throughout the Greater New Orleans area including Uptown, Lakeview, Broadmoor, Mid-City, Metairie, Jefferson, Kenner, Westbank, French Quarter, and the Warehouse District. Please visit our website for New Orleans Computer Service.

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