Due to his criminal background, Stuart Romm was denied access by Canadian authorities into British Columbia. When he returned to the Seattle-Tacoma airport, he allowed Homeland Security to search his laptop using forensic software. The tests revealed deleted files of child pornography left on the laptop's cache.
The judge in Romm's case refused his attorney's request to withhold the images from the trial. Romm was convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography knowingly and will serve a total of 25 years. The court declined to overturn Romm's conviction, stating that Americans lose privacy rights if stopped at a border.
The judges cited a 1985 case in which a woman was detained at the border because police believed she had balloons of cocaine on her body, and was forced to submit to examination even though the police had no probable cause. The judge referred to this case in allowing Romm's deleted laptop images. However, the dissenting justices in the 1985 case considered the decision to be "the hallmark of a police state."
Critics of the decision say the laws should be re-examined if authorities are going to conduct border searches without warrants or probable causes. But law enforcement authorities say the national crisis caused by smuggling of illicit narcotics cancels out any rights to privacy.