Friday, August 1, 2008

Fair Warning - or hysteria?

Dick Hillenbrand on his Genealogy Miscellanea blog has posted Genealogists Warning: Do Not Take Laptop, Ipod, Cell Phone, or any other electronic recording device abroad today. It references a Washington Post story that describes the possible perils of travel abroad with digital electronic devices.

Dick's link to the Washington Post didn't work - here's a link to the story by Ellen Nakashima published today. The gist of the story is:

"Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

"Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

That article is certainly ominous - and fair warning for all travelers. The article is sure to cause some hysteria in the travel industries and in newsrooms. But is the article accurate? Frankly, I don't trust any of the major newspapers or news services to provide accurate information - the stories always seem to be slanted one way or another.

The five page ICE policy is published here in PDF form. The article seems to quote the policy accurately.

Trying to find a positive side to this, I'm wondering if the contents of my laptop computer might be transferred from ICE to DHS to NARA to a commercial web site after the appropriate time interval? It might be a genealogy bonanza for a researcher 100 years from now.

I was planning on taking my laptop computer, digital camera and iPod on our genealogy cruise in October. Do you think they'll be interested in my five different genealogy software programs, two books in digital format, pictures of the old guys and young kids, and my notes about how to use The Master Genealogist? Hopefully, this will be straightened out before then.

Thank you to Dick for bringing this to our attention.

1 comment:

unyg said...

I repaired the link, thanks Randy.

Is that a crazy story or what?

Best to you.

Dick Hillenbrand