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Sales Provides Capitol Hill Testimony on Laptop Searches

Professor Nathan Sales was called to Capitol Hill to give testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution at its June 25 hearing that addressed laptop searches and other privacy issues for Americans returning from overseas travel.

The hearing follows controversy over a recent ruling by a panel of the 9th Circuit in U.S. v. Arnold that upheld the search of a border control agent who found child pornography an a computer after directing a traveler to turn the machine on.

In his testimony Sales stated that "Border searches of laptop computers and other electronic devices implicate a range of compelling, and sometimes competing, interests. Those interests include the government's paramount need to detect terrorists crossing our borders and to combat child pornography, as well as law-abing travelers' equally weighty interest in maintaining their personal privacy." Because these types of searches occur at the nation's borders, they satisfy the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness requirement, said Sales, and consensus among the lower courts has held that laptop search is considered "routine." 

Read Sales' complete testimony