Friday, August 15, 2008

Laptops at the border

This document has been creating a bit of a flap here in Canada (and elsewhere). It's the official US Customs and Border Protection policy document, explaining the official policies for search of information at the border (read: your laptop, your PDA, your Blackberry, your thumb drive, your CD's . . . well, you get the idea).

Simon Chester blogged about it on Slaw, and there has been some posts on the Yahoo litsupport forum also. Someone there even creatively suggested that you store all your data on a hidden, encrypted partition on your iPod. Personally, I can't think of a better way to raise the ire of a border guard than deliberately hiding the information, but it's wise to be familiar with what the policy actually says. And don't create suspicion in the mind of a border guard unnecessarily by going to great lengths to hide your data.

Shipping it via FedEx is not an option as packages transported by couriers are as subject to inspection as it would be if you were carrying it yourself. That's not common knowledge, but it really should be.

Perhaps the safest route is to leave the data in Canada, and to access it remotely over a secure VPN.

I should add (a day later) that I cross the border almost daily, and have yet to have my laptop or anything else searched. So I don't think we need to worry too much. But it is good to be aware of the actual policies (and perhaps carry a copy with you) for when you are crossing the border with client data.

No comments: