"Following in the wake of February's news that customs agents were seizing electronics and making copies of all the files on cell phones and laptop hard drives, a federal appeals court has ruled on the legality of such searches. The result: Yeah, customs can do whatever it wants to your computer when you come across the border, without a warrant, and without cause.
The ruling extends to all electronics: In addition to laptops, feds can seize phone records and even digital pictures on your camera as they hunt for evidence. The ruling was unanimous among the three appellate judges.
Be assured that the ruling has little to do with thwarting terrorism. The appeal was actually part of an ongoing trial of a man named Michael Arnold, who returned from the Philippines and had his laptop scoured by the feds. They found purported images of child pornography on the laptop and later arrested him. In his trial, the evidence was suppressed for probable cause issues, as the court said that customs had no reasonable suspicion to search his laptop in the first place. That ruling has now been overturned."
The ruling in .pdf format is here: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/6D5D931898D8168188257432005AC9B8/$file/0650581.pdf?openelement
"We must decide whether customs officers at Los Angeles International Airport may examine the electronic contents of a passenger’s laptop computer without reasonable suspicion."