Tuesday, May 6, 2008

BUSH PLANS TO SCARE AWAY MORE FOREIGN VISITORS

DAILY MIRROR, UK Tourists visiting the US face even tougher security checks now airport officials can search through mobile phones and laptops. Guards can download any details contained in the items and keep them indefinitely, following a new court ruling.

The latest legislation could mean lengthier queues as security copy photos, emails and phone records. Visitors already face hour-long waits while armed officers take fingerprints and photos.

Travel agents' group ABTA stormed: "It's another ratcheting up of Fortress America. It's certainly not a good thing for passengers - it is rather Big Brother."

There are also fears immigration staff may mistakenly corrupt or erase vital computer details. ABTA added: "We'd like to know if they're going to be properly trained to check computers and conduct many spot checks they plan to carry out.". . .

Dr Guy Bunker, of UK-based IT security experts Symantec, said: "Hopefully, they won't search everybody's data - or we may wait in line for weeks. There's also the chance of data being compromised."

He added that some business travelers particularly were now so alarmed they may fly to America with blank laptops.

It comes after a US Appeal Court ruled Los Angeles airport officials acted lawfully when a random search found child porn on a passenger's computer.

Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain said: "Reasonable suspicion is not needed for customs officials to search a laptop or other personal electronic storage devices."

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