I have little problem if a border guard or homeland security expert wants to check a laptop for suspicious files, such as “how to make bomb” videos.

I have a bit of a problem when they do a routine check of the hard drive, and find lots of photos, and then force a guy to put in his password.

Border guards aren’t supposed to be checking for porn, even the vicious child porn that turned up on the gentleman’s computer. Because asking for a password is similar to search and seizure, and should require a search warrant or at least a better reason than having lots of files.

After all, some of us carry all the family photos on our hard drive.

When border guards check us they have a lot to check for already: drugs, fruit, jewels, etc.

But now the Vancouver Sun writes that a new copyright law might allow border guards to check not only your hard drive but also your ipod…in case you have an illegal P2P song on it.

Called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the new plan would see Canada join other countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, to form an international coalition against copyright infringement….

The trade agreement includes “civil enforcement” measures which give security personnel the “authority to order ex parte searches” (without a lawyer present) “and other preliminary measures”.

In Canada, border guards already perform random searches of laptops at airports to check for child pornography. ACTA would expand the role of those guards.

I recognize that pirating/copyright infrigement is rampant. Heck, you can buy the latest films on a pirated VCD in our palenke (outdoor market) a week before it opens in Manila.

But making overworked border guards check every computer an ipod for illegal music just boggles the imagination.

Heck, when I moved to the Phiippines, I downloaded the family photo albums and all my CD’s onto my laptop’s hard drive so I could have them with me. I shudder to think how I could prove the copies were “legal”.

A ZDNET blogger however cautions that this is merely the Canadian newspapers’ take on the proposal, and at least one comment notes that the proposal is not going to be passed, so why worry.

George Bush has run into a lot of criticism because he wants to monitor suspicious emails by terror suspects.

But who protests when a Democrat, Joe Biden, who pushed a bill proposing $2 billion dollars be spent to monitor non security items such as p2p sharing of photos of child porn, with a definition wide enough to include teenagers who send photos of themselves, sans clothes, to each other.

How does the saying go?

First they came for the terrorist, then they came for the child porn, and now they are coming for my illegal Black Eyed Peas songs.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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