Two-Thirds of Americans Live in the 4th Amendment “Exemption Zone”
Posted on January 6, 2014
© Josh Sager – January 2014
Last week, Judge Edward Korman—a Reagan appointee to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York—confirmed that federal authorities can search the electronic devices of any American within 100 miles of any border without the need to obtain a warrant.
The Abidor et al v. Napolitano et al case, which Judge Korman just dismissed in favor of the government, focused upon warrantless searches of laptops without suspicion at the border. In this case, an American student was stopped at the border after traveling to several Middle Eastern countries and was forced to unlock/surrender his laptop computer. Despite the fact that nothing illegal was found on the computer, it still took nearly two weeks for Abidor to recover his laptop (which held the only copy of his thesis paper).
While dismissing this case, Judge Korman conceded to the government’s assertion that there is a 100 miles zone inland from every international border where federal authorities to have the ability to search and seize digital devices without warrant or cause—his only caveat to this concession was that “if suspicionless forensic computer searches at the border threaten to become the norm, then some threshold showing of reasonable suspicion should be required.”
In short, if you live in or are traveling through the orange-shaded portion of this map, it would be legal for federal authorities to stop you, force you to give them the password for your laptop, and seize your files—no warrant would be needed and there would be no certainty that you would ever recover your files or your digital devices.
Due to the geography of the United States, the 100-mile exemption zone for………….