Beware what you travel with

Multiple news sites tell the story of the USA now being able to detain the laptops (or any other electronic device) from travelers. The Policy Regarding Border Search of Information states:

Officers may detain documents and electronic devices, or copies thereof, for a reasonable period of time to perform a thorough border search. The search may take place on-site or at an off-site location.

What does this mean for a traveling Forensic Investigator? At first, how are you going to do your job when your electronic friend is being held for investigation. What is a “Reasonable period of time”, maybe you can pick it up again when you are leaving?

And if it is being detained, what data is on it? Of course you should never have any case data on your own laptop, right? But what if you have a new case and you did a quick investigation on the secured evidence with your own laptop? There might be some traces left in the slack and free space. Let’s hope the data doesn’t contain any references to terrorist acts, it might be a long stay then instead of a short trip.

Or, what if you just made a forensic copy for a case and you are traveling with that copy to deliver it in your own lab for your investigation. If the hard disk with the forensic copy is being detained how does that look on your chain of evidence? Not to think of the data that might be on a just newly imaged evidence item.

Of course if you keep thinking about it there will be a lot more consequences when your items are being detained at the border. But then again, why would a good Forensic Investigator be stopped at the border for such a investigation? Oh well, as long as they don’t take my PSP.