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Make no mistake -- Big Brother is watching

August 1, 2008 | 10:44 am

They_see_you Crossing a border into or out of the U.S.? Newly revealed policies cooked up by Homeland Security mean you have no control over what federal agents can do with your laptop or other electronic gadgets, and they can take them away from you without probable cause, according to a story in the Washington Post.

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer 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.

The law covers not only a laundry list of electronic devices like laptops, cellphones, flash drives, beepers, iPods and cassettes, CDs and DVDs, it also applies to "pocket litter." That's right, the papers and books you're carrying, as well as the phone number that cute guy in the LAX bar scribbled on his business card.

Elected officials are having a fit. That sound you hear is George Orwell spinning in his grave, and the Founding Fathers, too. The full story in the Post is here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Illustration: Tribune Media Services