Data Privacy Long Gone At U.S. Borders

Remember the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)? It’s not in effect yet, though some 40 countries are secretly negotiating the final details before its endorsement and implementation.
One of the most controversial elements of ACTA would be participating countries’ ability to arbitrarily inspect and, if they deem it necessary, impound electronic devices (cell phones, PDAs, laptops, etc.) at the border of entry. Ostensibly justified to combat terrorism, ACTA’s main function is to turn the hunt for copyright infringement into a new police duty.
It appears that the United States is getting ahead of itself on the ACTA front: the American Civial Liberties Union reports that just between October 2008 and June 2009, agents of the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection wing searched “more than 1,500 computers, cell phones and other electronic devices belonging to international travelers as they entered U.S. airports or other border posts.”
Customs and Border Protection implemented the policy in July of 2008. In nearly 300 cases, federal agents copied at least some of the data from the travelers.
The ACLU is correct to complain about this apparent violation of Constitutional rights, but that issue’s apparently already been decided, and one wonders if this is instead a dry run or prepatory policy for the full implementation of ACTA.