What is The Constitution Free Zone?
The ACLU released this missive in 2006 showing a 100-mile extended border from which Department of Homeland Security agents – i.e. Border Patrol and Customs – can search and seize any and all electronic devices.
The ACLU calls this area the Constitution Free Zone and argues that, because of legal precedent establishing a functionally extended border, DHS agents may disregard the fourth amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures in order to acquire or look through cell phones, laptops, and cameras.
As the ACLU writes:
“Normally under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the American people are not generally subject to random and arbitrary stops and searches. The border, however, has always been an exception. There, the longstanding view is that the normal rules do not apply . . . But what is “the border”? According to the government, it is a 100-mile wide strip that wraps around the “external boundary” of the United States. As a result of this claimed authority, individuals who are far away from the border, American citizens traveling from one place in America to another, are being stopped and harassed in ways that our Constitution does not permit.”
Though according to Scott Bombay of the Constitution Daily citing the Congressional Research Service, a case has yet to be offered to the Supreme Court to weigh in on the degree of suspicion needed to search and seize at the border or its functional equivalents.
Either way, its nice to know that, wherever I go, my photos of me playing chess or making some damn good paninis are not safe.