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Congress to look at laptop seizures

Congress to look at laptop seizures
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) in Washington on September 11, 2007. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 30 (UPI) -- Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold wants to restrict search and seizures of laptops and other digital devices at U.S. borders.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and property rights, called for laws to protect against "this gross violation of privacy" after a recent hearing on customs searches of digital technology such as laptop computers, hand-held devices and disk storage drives, the Washington Times reported Monday.

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Feingold is particularly upset that federal courts have not taken action.

"If the courts can't offer that protection, then that responsibility falls to Congress," said Feingold, who compared the search of a computer to a search of a body cavity which legally requires "probable suspicion" prior to the search.

Customs and border officials warn that exempting laptops, cellular phones, digital cameras and other devices from routine searches would make it easier to smuggle pornography, terrorism plans or other dangerous recorded material into the United States.

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