And so can UK border agents. Should business users travel with “blank laptops”?
If you access everything via the cloud, i.e. with online apps like Google Mail and Docs, then your laptop won’t need to have much on it.
Important or sensitive material stuff can be encrypted. However border agents could demand the encryption key? But only if they know something was encrypted.
Steganography is the art and science of writing hidden messages in such a way that no one apart from the sender and intended recipient even realizes there is a hidden message. By contrast, cryptography obscures the meaning of a message, but it does not conceal the fact that there is a message.
One common method is to hide the message in a JPG by changing the lower order bit of each byte. The image looks virtually the same, yet a message is encrypted within.
Do governments have the right to search laptops and phone at entry points to their country? I would say, sure, if they have reasonable suspicions about the person entering the country. But this can also be a slippery slope down to an all-surveillance society, like the UK has almost certainly become. Adam Curry podcasted about this eloquently on Friday.