Monday, February 06, 2006


A government agent can't search your person without a
warrant or probable cause. If you're carrying a suitcase, he
can't search it without a warrant or probable cause. If you're in
your car, he can't search your car without a warrant or probable
cause. Unless you give them permission, government agents can't
search you without legal justification (i.e. a warrant or probable
cause). Ever! Right? Not so fast.

What if you're entering the US at a border checkpoint? Can they
search you? Your suitcase? Your car? With no warrant? No probable
cause? No problem. I've seen it with my own eyes. When I was in
college, three of my friends and I spent about an hour at the US-
Canadian border while my friend's car was tossed by Customs
Inspectors. Why? Because we were college kids, and they probably
figured that we had some drugs in the car. Turns out we didn't.
When they were done searching the car, one of the Customs guys
said "OK, you can go now." No explanation. No apology. They didn't
even put back the stuff they threw on the pavement during the
search. That's just the way it is at the border. Anyone, or anything,
entering the US can be searched. It's been that way for years and

With this in mind, I'm curious as to why phone calls and
communications are any different. We're in the information age.
A lot can be done with the transfer of information. Why should it
be allowed to enter the country unchecked? Are we trying to use
a 19th century mindset to deal with a 21st century problem? I think
it may be time for a new paradigm.

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