Traveling by air is rarely easy. And with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security releasing a new policy that gives authorities the right to seize, review, make copies, and analyze your information, it’s getting even more intimidating.
If the DHS searches your laptop, phone, or other media device and finds illegally downloaded music or pirated software, you could be charged with a felony. But bringing along your electronic devices on your next trip doesn’t have to be a nightmare. There are a number of ways to protect yourself and your electronics when traveling within the United States or abroad:
- Avoid bringing items you can’t afford to lose: This is good advice no matter what the items. Theft and loss are actually much more likely scenarios than confiscation by the authorities.
- Carry as little proprietary business information and personnel records as possible: Before you leave, ask yourself if you really need some of the things you are taking with you. Information regarding employees is accessible in a number of different ways and doesn’t necessarily need to be stored on the device you are carrying.
- Limit personal information: Banking data, photographs, correspondence, health records, and passwords are often only a phone call away. It’s safer to leave this kind of information at the office than to let it fall into the wrong hands. Before you leave, make arrangements with someone you can contact at any time to retrieve any information you might need.
- E-mail information before your trip: If your computer is lost or seized you can still access the information through e-mail if you take this step. In other words, always back up your data before you go.
- If your equipment is seized, ask for a receipt and a badge number: Knowing where your device is and who took it is extremely important. It gives you a contact point when all is said and done; and if anything is broken, missing, or damaged you can identify the person who handled it if you have his or her badge number.
- Cooperate with customs and border protection officers: You’re more likely to get all your things back and, most importantly, avoid being arrested for a serious crime if you allow the authorities to do their jobs.