Judge limits DHS laptop border searches

Federal judge rebukes Homeland Security, which had claimed it can seize a traveler's laptop and search it six months later without warrant.

A federal judge has ruled that border agents cannot seize a traveler's laptop, keep in locked up for months, and examine it for contraband files without a warrant half a year later.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California rejected the Obama administration's argument that no warrant was necessary to look through the electronic files of an American citizen who was returning home from a trip to South Korea.

"The court concludes that June search required a warrant," White ruled on June 2, referring to a search of Andrew Hanson's computer that took place a year ago. Hanson arrived San Francisco International Airport in January 2009.

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