Cross over the border from Mexico into America, and you might get your computer inspected.
Not just be told to turn it on, to make sure it isn't a dummy secretly carrying three pounds of anthrax, but to turn it over to authorities to let them scroll through what you have on there.
(So if you're secretly plotting to blow up the White House, and you're stupid enough to carry those plans around in a computer, you are screwed.)
There's been an uproar lately in the wired world about this, but Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa says there shouldn't be.
"No, it's not a new policy," she tells Hair Balls. "Actually, the policy to conduct searches at the border goes back to the founding of the Republic."
(Ah yes, colonial New York as a frigate disembarks: "Hold hard there, good sir; we muft checketh yon c: drive first.")
While Kudwa says "we've been applying that to electronic media as long as it's existed," she does admit it's become the subject of a lot of talk.
Why? "Recently we posted the policy publicly and that has driven some public comment on it," she says.
Yeah, when a policy is secret it doesn't tend to engender much in the way of a thriving civic debate.
Kudwa promised to send us an e-mail packet of information laying out all the wonderfulness of the new policy, but it never came.
Maybe it got held up at the state line.
-- Richard Connelly