Today [27 August 2009] I announced new directives to enhance and clarify oversight for searches of computers and other electronic media at US ports of entry -- a critical step designed to bolster the Department's efforts to combat transnational crime and terrorism while protecting privacy and civil liberties.
The directives, available at DHS.gov, will enhance transparency, accountability and oversight of electronic media searches at U.S. ports of entry and includes new administrative procedures designed to reflect broad considerations of civil liberties and privacy protections -- measures designed to ensure that officers and agents understand their responsibilities to protect individual private information and that individuals understand their rights.
In the course of a border search, with or without individualized suspicion, an Officer may examine electronic devices and may review and analyze the information encountered at the border, subject to the requirements and limitations provided herein and applicable law.
Officers encountering business or commercial information in electronic devices shall treat such information as business confidential information and shall protect that information from unauthorized disclosure.
If after reviewing the information ... there is not probable cause to seize it, any copies of the information must be destroyed, and any electronic device must be returned.
Without probable cause to seize an electronic device or a copy of information contained therein, CBP may retain only information relating to immigration, customs, and other enforcement matters if such retention is consistent with the privacy and data protection standards of the system of records in which such information is retained.