Customs in the news

A couple of Customs stories caught my eye today.

I had a good laugh with this National Post article about a Canada Border Services Agency notice on how to spot bikers at the border.  I remember that lesson in training.  I also remember being disturbed at the meanings of a large number of coloured wings.

And on the other side of the border, I look forward to seeing the outcome of this case where a judge had the common sense to have a second look at whether customs officers should be able to inspect the information on laptops at the border.

Personally, I think that Customs should be restricted to dealing with goods.  If the computer is not stolen, dangerous, or a weapon, they should need reasonable grounds to go snooping further.  I don’t necessarily buy the logic that you can leave your laptop at home, or that the innocent have nothing to worry about.  I can’t travel without my laptop, and I don’t want someone rifling through my financial records, and confidential work documents.

I think the most compelling argument is that trillions of bytes flow freely across borders without inspection (except in China) through the internet, yet when that information is contained on a physical device in someone’s bag then a government official has the right to examine every bit.

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