Most people who travel with personal and business information stored on their laptops, cell phones and notebooks expect that data to remain private.
However, a report in the Washington Post claims that the U.S. government has been "quietly" introducing changes that affect traveler’s civil liberties, such as allowing federal agents to copy and keep this information at will.
This summer, the Department of Homeland Security said that federal agents were allowed to copy a traveler’s documents, books, and electronic data regardless of whether they had probable cause to suspect a law was being broken.
Some groups, including the Asian Law Caucus, have protested this policy, claiming that it violates First Amendment rights.
It points out that between 1986 and July 2008, the government’s policy stated that agents needed probable cause before they could copy materials.
Responding to this criticism, DHS spokesperson Amy Kudwa told the news provider that the changes reflect "the realities of the post-9/11 environment."
Her comments come after it emerged that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the National Security Agency and members of the Bush administration for what it describes as illegal surveillance.