The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s controversial practice of randomly searching laptops upon U.S. entry quietly began last year but has quickly drawn attention, including a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union for records related to the practice.
With regard to the searches, which don’t require "individualized suspicion" to conduct, the ACLU has asked for "records pertaining to the criteria used for selecting passengers for suspicionless searches, the number of people who have been subject to the searches, the number of devices and documents retained and the reasons for their retention." The suit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.
Last summer, the practice also drew the attention of a Senate subcommittee which held a hearing where defenders likened it to searching a suitcase. Opponents of the practice — including some reporters — fear the government’s intention may be to collect information about otherwise private matters. Regardless, as the ACLU argues, this practice may compromise individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.