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Court: Customs Inspection Not Unreasonable Search and Seizure

Checking laptop contents not 'logically different' from checking luggage, panel says.

Court: Customs Inspection Not Unreasonable Search and Seizure
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal appeals court has ruled that a U.S. Customs inspection of a laptop computer found to contain child pornography did not constitute an unreasonable search and seizure, Reuters reported.


Michael Arnold initially was charged with child pornography and related crimes after a 2005 search of his laptop at Los Angeles International Airport upon his return from the Philippines. Arnold argued that the U.S. Constitution's protections against searches without reasonable suspicion should have prevented the search.



A lower court agreed with Arnold's argument, but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision Monday, saying reasonable suspicion is not necessary to check laptops or other electronic devices at border checkpoints, Reuters reported.


"Arnold has failed to distinguish how the search of his laptop and its electronic contents is logically any different from the suspicionless border searches of travelers' luggage that the Supreme Court and we have allowed," Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote for a three-judge panel.

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