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ACLU to Represent Defense Lawyers Against U.S. Homeland Security
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The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Press Photographers Association are coming together to bring a law suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to inhibit the searching and copying of electronic information on laptops, phones and other information-storing devices at airports.

The president-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Lisa Wayne, had her laptop ceased at the Houston airport in 2008 after returning from Mexico.  She reports that an official had her turn on and log in to her laptop and then took the device to a separate, hidden location for half an hour.  Wayne says she fears that even referring to attorney-client privileges in the future will not be enough to keep her private files private.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday, including Pascal Abidor in its list of plaintiffs, a dual American-French citizen doctoral student whose laptop was confiscated for 11 days.  Abidor is an Islamic studies PhD candidate at McGill University and was questioned as to why he had Hezbollah and Hamas-related material on his computer.

  
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The complaint against Homeland Security reads, “Electronic devices like laptops, ‘smart’ phones, and external data storage devices hold vast amounts of personal and sensitive information that reveals a vivid picture of travelers’ personal and professional lives, including their intimate thoughts, private communications, expressive choices, and privileged or confidential work product.”  The ACLU is claiming this is a clear violation of the First Amendment.



 

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