In light of recent precedent, many lawyers that respect their clients’ confidences travel with laptops that do not contain sensitive information. This means: 1) no notes from interviews; 2) no medical records; and 3) no draft pleadings or other motions.
In fact, some people don’t even travel with laptops that contain hard drives, opting instead to access any data they need via a secure connection and store all programs on a write-only CD or similar medium. (You can build one with parts found on Ebay for under $80. Ironically, many of the parts are ex-government surplus, often from the FBI. But when they shut down, there is no record of anything that was done on that computer, or even that the computer was even turned on.)
In my mind, there is a legitimate fear that prying eyes will look at privileged (or confidential) information.
Unfortunately, we never get to litigate these issues. Customs stops child-pr0n carrying pr0n people at their borders, and cooks up some rationale to search their laptops. And, according to DotD, Judge O’Scannlain is more than happy to explain how laptops, at the border are more like “cars” than “closed containers.” The case is U.S. v. Arnold, 06-50581 (9th Cir., April 21, 2008).
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