Today I read this article via Slashdot: U.S. courts consider legality of laptop inspections. I’m shocked! Since 9/11 we’ve seen many changes on border policies, but this one is, in my opinion one of the worst. It’s become increasingly difficult to do business in America. Believe me when I say this with great grief. I love America and coming from a Montessori school, my way of thinking and acting is much more American than European. Nevertheless, making business with or in America has become a nightmare, not only for foreigners, but also for locals.
It’s already close to impossible to get a working visa (H1-B), and even with an academic visa (like myself) you get questioned, fingerprinted and eye scanned. International conferences that used to have Las Vegas or other American cities as residences are beginning to shift their locations to avoid problems with their foreign speakers. Even speakers that come all the way from Europe to help and train the guys from NSA are being deported because of problems at the American border.
And now what? Well, it seems that now you can’t even bring your laptop with you! Don’t get me wrong, I understand that under some circumstances, it’s paramount to confiscate and analyze a hard disk in search of evidence. What I don’t get is why I have to give away all my personal information WITHOUT any warrant. I’m not a law expert, but from what I understand, if you want to confiscate a computer in someone’s house you need to seek a warrant first. That means that you’ll have to hand some evidence to a judge first and then you’ll be able to take the hard disk. What this court proposes is that while you have your laptop at home you are protected by the law, but the moment you try to travel with your computer they can bypass the law and search your hard disk. Well, I think that’s just wrong, very wrong. Not only because I don’t have a right for privacy, but because if I’m on a business trip I’ll loose my laptop and all my business data! So again, this attitude just keeps non American business people from traveling to the US. Considering that America is heading to a major recession and that the dollar is so weak against the Euro, I don’t think that’s the best strategy.
Anyhow, I do understand the reasons behind many of the new bills being approved, but I truly think there are better ways to deal with this. Again, this is just my humble opinion. I would love to hear what Americans thinks about these issues. Any takers?
UPDATE: I just read this post from TechCrunch which shows the dramatic trend US tech companies are taking due to the working visa cap and other problems with foreign workers. It’s clear that even US companies are looking outside US for new places in which they might continue growing. And I wonder, isn’t the working visa cap suppose to create more jobs for US citizens? Sadly, numbers tell a different story.
UPDATE2: New indicators of current state of matters in the US: “From 1994 to 2004, U.S. firms increased the number of people they employed in R&D jobs outside the United States by 76 % and employment within the United States by 31 %, while U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms increased their U.S. R&D employment by 18 %. “