The Electronic Frontier Foundation will discuss the legal situation that international travelers face when entering or leaving the United States, as well as various ways that travelers can safeguard electronic devices and digital information at the border. A series of unfortunate court decisions allows border patrol agents to search travelers' laptops, mobile phones, and other digital devices without limitation at the United States border. Courts even allow agents to copy entire hard drives for no particular reason -- unlike domestic law enforcement, where civil liberties laws strictly regulate and limit search powers. These searches are relatively rare, but they continue to occur and could become more routine as computer forensics gets cheaper or agents develop new ways of targeting particular travelers. How can international travelers protect themselves when they enter the United States? Seth Schoen and Marcia Hofmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation will present their latest research into protecting data during border crossings. Their white paper, "Laptop and Electronics Searches at the U.S. Border: A Privacy Guide for Travelers", will be unveiled at this presentation. It combines legal and technical perspectives, discussing the legal situation that international travelers face when entering or leaving the United States, as well as various ways that travelers can safeguard electronic devices and digital information at the border. Since border agents' powers are so extensive, our conclusions may not be happy ones; there is no magical technical or legal solution and all precautions and approaches still involve risks and tradeoffs. We hope that our work will provide a clear, up-to-date, and thorough overview of this issue for all travelers to the U.S.
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