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National Briefing / Washington, D.c.

Bush-era search policy preserved

August 28, 2009|TIMES WIRE REPORTS

The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search -- without suspicion of wrongdoing -- the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said the new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.

The policy, disclosed in a pair of Department of Homeland Security directives, describes more fully than did the George W. Bush administration the procedures by which travelers' digital devices can be searched and seized when they cross a U.S. border. It sets time limits for completing searches.

But representatives of civil liberties and travelers groups say they see little substantive difference between the Bush-era policy, which prompted controversy, and this one.

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