By Thomas Claburn
September 15, 2008
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security appears to be of two minds
about the security of information on portable devices.
On the one hand, it defends border searches of laptops as necessary to
limit the movements of terrorists, to deter child pornography, and to
enforce U.S. laws.
"One of our most important enforcement tools in this regard is our
ability to search information contained in electronic devices, including
laptops and other digital devices, for violations of U.S. law, including
potential threats," said Jayson Ahern, deputy commissioner, U.S. Customs
and Border Protection, in an online post in June.
On the other hand, it has warned business and government travelers not
to carry laptops or other electronic devices when traveling abroad, as a
way to prevent "unauthorized access and theft of data by criminal and
foreign government elements."
In a document titled "Foreign Travel Threat Assessment: Electronic
Communications Vulnerabilities," published June 10 by the DHS's critical
infrastructure threat analysis division and recently posted to
Wikileaks, DHS urges business leaders and U.S. officials to "leave
[electronic devices] at home" when traveling.
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