Laptop searches at the border have sparked debate about how the government’s broad powers to search international travelers should apply to electronic data.
Under current law, federal agents at the border can search electronic devices, copy data or seize a computer without probable cause.
During the first two weeks of August, 40 people of the almost 17 million who crossed U.S. borders had their laptops searched, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
“Some people have had their stuff taken away for two or three months,” said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., who introduced a bill to make searches of electronic devices more transparent. “It’s incredibly inconvenient, and people weren’t even aware it could happen.”