Data Law Insights

In the Summer issue of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Magazine, I write about the Ninth Circuit’s watershed en banc ruling in United States v. Cotterman, 709 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 2013), that border agents must have “reasonable suspicion” before conducting forensic searches of laptops at the US border. The decision will likely present significant challenges in application, and particularly in determining what constitutes a forensic search and when suspicions are reasonable. Nevertheless, the Ninth Circuit’s decision is a win for privacy advocates in that it recognizes a need for heightened privacy protections at the border in light of the widespread use of modern electronic devices, consolidation of significant amounts of personal data on these devices, and increased international travel.