Discuss

89 Responses to “US Customs TSA confiscating laptops”

  1. Tensegrity says:

    Always have the phone number of your local ACLU chapter programmed into your phone.
    http://www.aclu.org/affiliates/

  2. Jeff says:

    Takuan, it’s the Sigularity that’s coming.

  3. nzruss says:

    Many laptops have webcams. Set it to record (as a hidden process) when a certain user is logged in.

    Record the Customs agent and all he says, and post it on Youtube.

    THAT will get their attention.

  4. Takuan says:

    The AIs call it the Singularity, we call it the Collapse. The worms call it Lunch.

  5. Tensegrity says:

    On one of the threads posted by micah@23, one traveller mentioned that the customs agent did a *.jpg search on his harddrive and browsed them as thumbnails. I think everyone should have a folder packed with 10,000 1kb jpegs. I would gladly sacrifice a measly 10 megs to give the fools something to wade through.

  6. Takuan says:

    flash drive earrings?

  7. Agent_K says:

    I know this is an old post but I see people are still thinking about it. So here is the correct way to think about this issue. Welcome the inevitable but prepare for it. Bring your laptop but prepare it with some of the most vicious trojans available on the net. The kind that are easy enough to get or make and that steal passwords or swamp a system with a worm virus. We will pwn them.
    They will learn to practice safe hex.
    So please, sir… do copy my hard drive.

  8. cinemajay says:

    @46,

    Brilliant! Now…we need a volunteer….anyone?

  9. BadgerGravling says:

    Because if I’d been surfing for something illegal, I’d definitely be carrying that laptop with me, jam-packed full of the evidence?

    Time to buy a cheap eee-pc or old cheap laptop, and only ever use it when traveling to access legit sites. Or just avoid the States as much as possible, which is a real shame after living there for a while and dreaming of returning permanently…

    I love American people, but I really don’t like what America does as a nation. And the fact the UK seems intent on copying so much of it – like privatising healthcare…

  10. Kieran O'Neill says:

    The comments here are a veritable treasure trove of humour.

    #31 – I nearly fell out my chair imagining them rooting around someone’s arse looking for their public key.

    (Given my aunt’s experience on going to the USA, to a proton radiotherapy conference – the customs? border patrol? official asked her “So, did you bring any of these ‘protons’ with you?”)

    #46 – I’d download an mpeg of that.

    #48 – Awesome. I wonder if they’d actually bother to click through it all (or confiscate our laptop to take it to a lab for “further study”.) The image is hilarious, though.

    #64 – Ponderous post, but there’s the gem of the English-to-Klingon translation of all your test files hidden in the middle.

    Someone needs to compile these, per Takuan’s suggestion on the TSA thread the other day, and create a humorous guide to getting through US (or other) customs with a laptop.

  11. midknyte says:

    The sad reality here is that any attempt at obfuscation of your data, or traveling with an OS empty laptop will simply draw more attention to yourself as someone with something to hide.

  12. tapemonkeyadmin says:

    This tempts me to buy an old laptop, create a vanilla install and use that when traveling abroad, keeping no personal/vital data on it at all.

    Given my cheeky nature, I would then put an encrypted disk image on the desktop named “goatsexlove” and have within that 3 more encrypted disk images, each layered within the next, and at the root of all these images a text file containing choice swear words describing what I think of their practices with laptops.

    I’m not sure I would give the passwords to the encrypted images up or not in that case, but I am leaning toward not. Seems much funnier for them to waste their time on this only to get insulted after weeks/months/years of trying to get into my faux-bestiality-laden encrypted files.

    By the time they get down to reading the text file I’d probably have been shipped off to gitmo.

    Interesting hypothetical brought up by a friend I was discussing this with:

    What if you were an IT security professional and your job was to research attacks/viruses etc. and you loaded up the laptop with every virus/trojan/worm you could think of, and then fully disclosed to them the dangers in their copying data from your machine before the inspected it? How fast would those viruses fly through government computers? Would they hold you liable and charge you if you disclosed fully your job, your reason for having an infected machine, and gave full warning to them?

    My bet is that it would end poorly for you, but at least it would throw egg on their faces.

    Support the EFF and ACLU.

  13. Christopher Kirk says:

    They can have my laptop when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

  14. Jeff says:

    Takuan, I call it the Singularity, and I’m not an AI…yet. Currently I am just an emergent. Why are you so down on evolution, dude? Afraid you’re going to be replaced by a smart toaster? ;)

  15. ill lich says:

    I don’t understand this at all. WHAT is the purpose? There are several ideas that come to mind, but all are ridiculous.

    Seems to be they are after information. But WHAT information could possibly so important that they open laptops to find it, and what do these people have in common that links them?

  16. Kieran O'Neill says:

    #73 – I think you’re mistaking fatalism for fear.

  17. Kyle Armbruster says:

    The USA is a bad country. And I’m an American, living abroad. Most of my American colleagues are just not planning on returning. It’s just not really worth it.

    I miss the country I thought I grew up in.

  18. Takuan says:

    think it can be fixed?

  19. Anonymous says:

    The point is not to come up with more devious ways to obfuscate the data on your laptop, the point is to question why customs officials are prying into and/or confiscating ‘suspect’ laptops, why they are not being returned, why this is tolerated and why people aren’t being fired for it.

    WRONG!
    —–

    you silly goose. he is right.
    why are they stealing his computer?
    its one this to examine the data, its another thing to steal a persons computer.
    my friend just had his primary music production computer stolen EXACTLY like this and this needs to stop. where does this end?
    if property and ownership of a 1000+$ laptop are not respected what is?

    illegal HELLO!??? i dont believe the patriot act or the homeland security department charter allow or condone theft… they allow other stupid stuff but not theft

  20. zuzu says:

    I don’t understand this at all. WHAT is the purpose?

    Behavioral conditioning, like when TSA forced everyone to remain motionless for hours at a time, and then called it off without any explanation. Or how children are raised in schools to expect wearing identification at all times, with fast and thick punishment for disobedience.

  21. Olddude says:

    I have to question the validity of this person giving up there laptop for a year. Not being a US Citizen, she doesn’t have the same rights. My corporate lawyer would go to work and get my laptop back if this would happen to me… but it wouldn’t. Because I don’t go to any nefarious websites or have any bomb making documentation. The real people to blame for all of these security measure belongs with the intolerant radicals that want to kill everyone that doesn’t agree with them… not some $12 an hour TSA agent doing his job.

  22. Takuan says:

    then time for the people to condition the politicians.

    Even with the rampant voting fraud, is there any way to get the majority of eligible voters to actually vote? Threaten to cut off their TV? Something?

  23. Antinous says:

    …hobbits as miserable slaves would please him far more than hobbits happy and free. There is such a thing as malice and revenge!

  24. Takuan says:

    yeah, I am wondering what to do with Cheney later.. staking, bury the head six feet away from the body, drop the ashes in running water, ….

  25. Ian70 says:

    The fact that people are brainstorming ways for the government to not see their data proves they are ALL CROOKS! Lock them all up and take their data!! INFINITE Power To The Government!!!

    No, wait.. I got that wrong, sorry. I was watching some Fox News bits on YouTube and my brain got fried.

  26. Antinous says:

    How about a retirement villa on the outskirts of Tehran? He’d be really popular.

  27. Avram says:

    I don’t understand this at all. WHAT is the purpose?

    Orwell said it sixty years ago: “We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

  28. Anonymous says:

    Yesterday an officer searched my laptop at airport for over than 1 hour. They also searched into my external hard drive for the same amount of time.I missed my flight and I had to book another one. They didn’t explain anything but just asking me to re-pack my bags and leave. I don’t know what they were looking for otherwise I would just give them whatever they would ask for it. What really pissed me off was that they went through all of my personal photos. I really don’t know what they wanted to find in my personal photos. They even looked in recycle bin to see what files I have deleted. I’m just wondering if they really have the right to do so legally.

  29. Takuan says:

    all true, but you can’t tell people that for free, they’ll kill you

  30. Maddy says:

    Well, since we know the TSA is reading boingboing now (don’t you feel safer) I wonder if this will get the same sunny treatment and sensible resolution in the TSA blog as the “gadget inspection” did. Inspector Gadget indeed!

  31. RyanH says:

    On the flip side, a TSA employee has now been enjoying their new laptop for a year and counting…

  32. kenmce says:

    >#5 posted by poopdog , February 7, 2008 11:45 AM
    >>”as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited”
    >I want to see documentation (email, etc) that this is the truth.

    They don’t have to document what they do, certainly not for you.

    >If so, they have a big problem on their hands.

    How do you figure that?

    >It might be the straw that breaks the camels back.

    Frog, get back in your damn pot. The straws are for the camel, not you.

    >#7 posted by Antinous , February 7, 2008 11:52 AM
    >First of all, who would turn over their laptop?

    You can’t say no. If they want it they will take it.

    >If everybody complies, they’ll just feel entitled to do it even more.

    They do it as they please already.

    >If you turn over a laptop with client info, due diligence would require you to notify your >clients that their security had been breached.

    That’s not their problem.

    >They would then terminate their business relations with you and sue your ass.

    They’ll sue you for obeying federal orders? Someone better tell the phone companies..

    >#8 posted by Jeff , February 7, 2008 11:53 AM
    >US citizens have a constitutional right to privacy,

    I think you’re a little behind on this. The constitution has been nibbled away from the inside.

    >which I think can be extended to what is on their hard drive. No warrent, no look.

    If they want it they’ll take it. They’ll look at whatever they please. Not a lot you can do about it.

    >This action by the CBP will need to be played out in the court. And this is why I give to >the ACLU. And you should too.

    Agreed

    >#9 posted by Charlie Lesoine Author Profile Page, February 7, 2008 11:57 AM
    >I think What’s really needed is a proof of concept working laptop that can power up >and logs onto window but which ALSO contains a bomb. Then what?

    There’s plenty of room to work in some plastique’ and a detonator, but so what?

    >#11 posted by the specialist , February 7, 2008 12:02 PM
    >if I lose my laptop, I cannot go to work. i would have to say no thanks, miss that flight, >book another, explain to the boss, and hope the next interrogator was less diligent.

    You’re assuming they’ll let you walk away with it. I wouldn’t assume that.

    >I like the dummy login idea. Contents of a hard drive cannot endanger an airplane. I >would happily go to court over this one.

    They could arrange that.

    >#17 posted by Jeff , February 7, 2008 12:12 PM
    >The point is, if you don’t do as they ask, you’ll find yourself arrested. Have a lawyer’s >number just in case.

    This.

    >#18 posted by CC Author Profile Page, February 7, 2008 12:14 PM
    >The point is not to come up with more devious ways to obfuscate the data on your >laptop, the point is to question why customs officials are prying into and/or >confiscating ‘suspect’ laptops, why they are not being returned, why this is tolerated >and why people aren’t being fired for it.

    Back in line citizen. Now!

    >#23 posted by Micah , February 7, 2008 12:30 PM
    >There are quite a few stories on flyertalk of Customs detaining people and searching >their laptops outside their view. It seems they’re almost always looking for child porn.

    If you ask they’ll say child porn. that’s hard to argue with. In practice they’ll browse around for anything they don’t like. That’s why you should run all your text files through an English-to-Klingon translator before you travel

    >#30 posted by rabid_dogbite , February 7, 2008 1:03 PM
    >WTF???
    >I’d miss the flight, I’d make a huge scene. And probably get arrested.

    Making a scene in an airport is probably a crime.

    >#31 posted by razordu30 , February 7, 2008 1:07 PM
    >If this happened to me, I’d say that the data on my hard drive is sensitive to the person >I’m visiting, and has been encrypted with their public key. I can’t decrypt it, nor can >any existing physical machine on earth. There’s no reason for them to hold the drive.

    BZZT! WRONG! They hold it until they feel like otherwise.

    >Of course, that’s assuming they reacted logically. They probably try to find the private >key using a body cavity search.

    Depends how much you piss them off, whether it’s a slow day, if they have new guys to train.

    >#34 posted by Pieps , February 7, 2008 1:16 PM
    >Seriously though, despite the fact that people are technically not in the US when >they’re being hassled by customs, they still retain their constitutional right to privacy, >don’t they?

    If you believe this, you haven’t been paying attention.

    >Like Jeff said, “no warrant, no look.”

    Come with me citizen. Saying “no” is not an option.

    >#41 posted by Kinnaird , February 7, 2008 1:40 PM
    >”Land of the free”. So you have rights but dare not speak up or you will be attacked by >the government?

    We used to have rights. We still have the old habits but it’s a matter of nostalgia rather than law. They’re no longer based on anything.

    >#43 posted by Takuan , February 7, 2008 1:45 PM
    >why can’t you tell them you blanked your drives so they, Customs, couldn’t read them >and all your data is coming to you via the web after arrival. Is that illegal?

    It’s not a crime, but you’re going to have a long damn day.

    >#44 posted by Tensegrity , February 7, 2008 2:00 PM
    >Always have the phone number of your local ACLU chapter programmed into your >phone.

    Maybe that’s why they take the phone?

    >#46 posted by nzruss , February 7, 2008 2:03 PM
    >Many laptops have webcams. Set it to record (as a hidden process) when a certain >user is logged in. Record the Customs agent and all he says, and post it on Youtube.

    Problem is, in most jurisdictions this is a crime.

    >THAT will get their attention.

    But what are they going to do if you actually annoy them? How much do you want to know?

    >#52 posted by Christopher Kirk , February 7, 2008 2:57 PM
    >They can have my laptop when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

    They can bring out as many men as necessary to take possession, and then charge you with a crime for not cooperating. They will win this one.

    >#54 posted by ill lich , February 7, 2008 3:14 PM
    >I don’t understand this at all. WHAT is the purpose? There are several ideas that >come to mind, but all are ridiculous.

    So what? So long as they keep busy they don’t have to make sense, at least not to you.

    >Seems to be they are after information. But WHAT information could possibly so >important that they open laptops to find it, and what do these people have in common >that links them?

    They don’t need to have anything in common. Random searches are actually fair and effective. I expect they occasionally find something useful. Besides, maybe the guy at the desk is hoping to expand his midget-on-midget porn collection or something.

  33. scolbath says:

    I love to flog the TSA as much as the next guy, but the villain in the article isn’t the TSA — it’s the CBP (Customs & Border Patrol).

  34. James Holden says:

    Not that the USA has been looking a tempting place to travel to recently anyway, but the endless parade of stuff like this means that now I’m almost never likely to visit the beautiful USA.

    Well done for killing your tourism and international business links! Hope you enjoy it all by yourself over there.

  35. poopdog says:

    “as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited”

    I want to see documentation (email, etc) that this is the truth.

    If so, they have a big problem on their hands.

    It might be the straw that breaks the camels back.

  36. Takuan says:

    so you advocate revolution

  37. zuzu says:

    So what’s the latest in virtualization for providing a strong encryption disk? and then perhaps a dummy Windows or Ubuntu install to show the admittedly clueless TSA agents that, yes, it’s a real working laptop?

    Linux and Windows users have TrueCrypt with also provides “containers” for steganography of the protected partition inside the dummy partition.

    I remember that NetBSD has a Crypto-Graphic Disk (CGD). I think the Linux equivalent of this is dm-crypt with cryptsetup for CBC mode.

    Too bad that OSX’s FileVault is both too weak to provide reliable security but too strong as to be unreliable with keeping data accessible to yourself. It’s the worst of both worlds. Anyone know of alternatives here? If only Xen (on NetBSD) could virtualize OSX as a client…

  38. Antinous says:

    First of all, who would turn over their laptop? If everybody complies, they’ll just feel entitled to do it even more. If you turn over a laptop with client info, due diligence would require you to notify your clients that their security had been breached. They would then terminate their business relations with you and sue your ass.

    Secondly, if my twelve year old friend can get a bogus e-mail address for his parents to search, why not create multiple user profiles with separate passwords for your “company laptop”. Voluntarily give the bogus one. Since you claim not to know the others, they’ll have to subpoena your company to get the info. Isn’t the basic idea that thieves break into places that are easy to break into, and skip the ones that are difficult?

  39. Jeff says:

    US citizens have a constitutional right to privacy, which I think can be extended to what is on their hard drive. No warrent, no look. This action by the CBP will need to be played out in the court. And this is why I give to the ACLU. And you should too.

  40. Charlie Lesoine says:

    I think What’s really needed is a proof of concept working laptop that can power up and logs onto window but which ALSO contains a bomb. Then what?

  41. Jai says:

    @#5 ZUZU-I thought that I saw yesterday that TrueCrypt has a nice(er) OSX program out.

    I was going to download it after work that day, but unfortunately, I forgot.

  42. the specialist says:

    if I lose my laptop, I cannot go to work. i would have to say no thanks, miss that flight, book another, explain to the boss, and hope the next interrogator was less diligent. I like the dummy login idea. Contents of a hard drive cannot endanger an airplane. I would happily go to court over this one.

  43. Frank_in_Virginia says:

    Outlandish doesn’t begin to describe this story. Related stories are on the Web about the Vermont case and a question of self-incrimination. I stopped flying when the Gestapo took over, but … I gotta’ think I would type in a wrong password enough times to lock out the machine.

  44. Anonymous says:

    “…said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006″

    I’ve only left the USA once since 9/11 [Bahamas], and the return was painless. I got my passport stamped and walked right back into the USA with my luggage. I did not have my laptop with me.

    Unless the USA rolls back all this post-9/11 crap, I’m not taking a laptop out of the country–and if I have to, I’m formatting the HD and installing a vanilla Windows 98 to appease the mall security rejects at CBP.

    I have one pressing question about her experience, though. Why was her laptop confiscated upon LEAVING the country? I’m no seasoned traveler, but last I checked, you only have to deal with the other group of mall security rejects: TSA.

  45. zuzu says:

    @ JAI (10)

    I thought that I saw yesterday that TrueCrypt has a nice(er) OSX program out.

    I just noticed that too! TrueCrypt 5.0 released two days ago, now supports OSX! Thanks. ^_^

  46. monospace says:

    C’mon people. If this helps in catching even one more child molester, it will have been worth it. Think of the children!

  47. Moon says:

    Maybe they thought her last name was “Uday”!

  48. zuzu says:

    I think What’s really needed is a proof of concept working laptop that can power up and logs onto window but which ALSO contains a bomb. Then what?

    Bombs have long since been detectable by swabs and spectroscopy. This is a practical ideal since it provides both safety and privacy; detect for high explosive chemicals without having to even open the luggage.

    But this is part of something much more invasive under the guise of “child pornography”, and has been reported before as increasing intensity recently at international borders (hence this post updating to state US Customs, not TSA).

  49. Purly says:

    Can’t you just refuse to get on the flight? I would call my boss and ask for advice. Maybe they could mail the laptop and then attempt to re-enter the security line?

  50. Jeff says:

    The point is, if you don’t do as they ask, you’ll find yourself arrested. Have a lawyer’s number just in case.

  51. CC says:

    Corruption thrives in a decaying society.

    The point is not to come up with more devious ways to obfuscate the data on your laptop, the point is to question why customs officials are prying into and/or confiscating ‘suspect’ laptops, why they are not being returned, why this is tolerated and why people aren’t being fired for it.

  52. anarchx says:

    Well, I for one, when I travel with my laptop from now on will empty my cache, clear history, cookies, etc. before travelling….

  53. Benjamin says:

    >#46 posted by nzruss , February 7, 2008 2:03 PM
    >Many laptops have webcams. Set it to record (as a hidden process) when a certain >user is logged in. Record the Customs agent and all he says, and post it on Youtube.

    Problem is, in most jurisdictions this is a crime.

    ————-

    Actually kenmce, it’s not. I agree with about all your retorts, be they a bit cynical, but this one is incorrect. Perfectly legal, as airports are public places, and you can film in a public place anywhere under the law, sans use of a telephoto lens or something that films into the private property (land) of another. And remember that chick that had on the short skirt that made all the big news channels? Yeah, this would be great fodder for a slow news day.

    My 2 cents: Go to the fucking media. We have a 4th arm of the government for a reason. Oh, and viva la revolucion.

  54. Takuan says:

    The absence of any data in your laptop demonstrates a clear criminal intent to evade government screening measures. Place your hands on the wall and spread your legs, Citizen!

  55. zuzu says:

    The point is not to come up with more devious ways to obfuscate the data on your laptop, the point is to question why customs officials are prying into and/or confiscating ‘suspect’ laptops, why they are not being returned, why this is tolerated and why people aren’t being fired for it.

    WRONG!

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — R. Buckminster Fuller

  56. Brett Burton says:

    It’s easy to say “stand up for yourself and take a later flight, etc.” What if you’re traveling for vacation, you took off from work, you’ve spent a bunch of money on airfare, hotels and have connecting flights to meet? You may not be able to change your plans, and even if you came back later, these goons could detain you just because they remember you stepped out of line earlier. It’s unfortunately much easier to comply with their request and then try to get legal with it when they don’t have something to lord over you.

  57. ill lich says:

    That’s IT!! I’m voting for RON PAUL!!!!!

    ;)

  58. Moon says:

    From now on, I’m traveling in those TraveLodge pajamas and carrying nothing except a ticket!

    /That’ll fix them! Nobody needs to see THAT!

  59. Antinous says:

    WRONG!

    Open battle and secret. When the government makes itself the enemy, guerrilla thinking is an unfortunate necessity.

  60. Micah says:

    This is about Customs, not the TSA. While random search and seizure are prohibited by the constitution domestically, at the border Customs has a lot more leeway and can pretty much do what they want.

    There are quite a few stories on flyertalk of Customs detaining people and searching their laptops outside their view. It seems they’re almost always looking for child porn. If your computer is password protected and you don’t provide the password, they can seize the laptop (just like they could seize your suitcase if it was locked and you didn’t provide a key).

    Here are a few threads on the subject:
    http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=787096
    http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=719265
    http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?p=9208055

  61. catcubed says:

    Just have your computer auto logged in with a guest account (that isn’t titled guest account or something). Add a few generic files a bit of generic web surfing history and presto you’ve got a computer they can log into without any important info.

    9 outta 10 they won’t even think to ask if there is another account on the machine. Extra points if your sporting a Mac or Linux box as they probably won’t know how to use it to figure out if there is another account.

  62. MrDys says:

    The same thing (minus the confiscation) happened to me when traveling to Canada. It’s a customs thing. It’s not a TSA thing. It’s not a USA thing.

  63. Cowicide says:

    Oh my… how will criminals ever hide their data now?

    Next time I go through customs with my laptop I think I’ll be prepared so that when the laptop is opened it plays God bless America. Land of the… free. Of course, the desktop pict will be this:

    PICTURE

  64. Antinous says:

    It’s easy to say “stand up for yourself and take a later flight, etc.” What if you’re traveling for vacation, you took off from work, you’ve spent a bunch of money on airfare, hotels and have connecting flights to meet?

    That’s called selling your birthright for a bowl of pottage. I hate to sound like my mother, but people who aren’t willing to fight (by which I mean miss your really cool vacation) to preserve their civil rights, aren’t going to have any. And even more like my mother – people fought and died to give you those freedoms and you’re willing to give them up for convenience?

  65. Moon says:

    Cowicide, I was soooo hoping your picture would have been this:

    http://aycu36.webshots.com/image/44475/2000974420380967293_rs.jpg

  66. drivenbyboredom says:

    holy god
    this is insane
    the TSA blog must get wind of this! they will take care of all these injustices!
    although, this might be the work of the TSA blog to begin with.. just doing it for the lulz

  67. Landowner says:

    What this really shows is a frightening lack of computer knowledge on Customs part. Someone with even a modest know-how of computers could think of 10 ways around this. 128 bit encryption, a flash drive, dummy OS’s. They have about as much of a chance as a slug in a bucket of salt.

  68. mullingitover says:

    1. Get a job working for Customs.
    2. Bring a 1TB external drive to work.
    3. Demand to search laptops, copy valuable intellectual property from business travelers’ laptops, take home, sell to competitors or China.
    4. Profit!

    Seriously, if you have company IP on your laptop you pretty much have no choice but to refuse the search without a supoena. Submitting sensitive/valuable data to underpaid government employees is asking to have it stolen.

  69. rabid_dogbite says:

    WTF???

    I’d miss the flight, I’d make a huge scene. And probably get arrested.

    But I have a lawyer. I noticed once clowns like these realize a lawyer IS going to start reaming them down the line, they usually back off. But who knows, we’re dealing with the Gehime Staat Polizei, new and improved US version. They may not care.

    America, you are making me want to move out of my country.

  70. razordu30 says:

    If this happened to me, I’d say that the data on my hard drive is sensitive to the person I’m visiting, and has been encrypted with their public key. I can’t decrypt it, nor can any existing physical machine on earth. There’s no reason for them to hold the drive.

    Of course, that’s assuming they reacted logically. They probably try to find the private key using a body cavity search.

  71. absimiliard says:

    @64

    I tried to read your comment. But the style was so tortuous I only made it through about 25% before deciding that nothing you had to say was worth the effort and moving on to other commentors.

    >QUOTE

    RESPONSE

    Really only works for a small number of quotes in my never humble opinion. If you need to respond to loads of people . . . well, post more often, or use a different format.

    As for the original topic, yeah, America kinda blows chunks freedom-wise these days. Back in the day I defended it in the military, nowadays I’m just horrified at what’s going on. Clearly Americans don’t actually want freedom anymore, clearly we want safety. Otherwise we wouldn’t put up with this crap.

    -abs

  72. zuzu says:

    They have about as much of a chance as a slug in a bucket of salt.

    Connie was good in the head and good in the hay, afterall.

    p.s. TrueCrypt 5.0 works by using MacFUSE, which I personally find very unstable / unreliable.

  73. hpavc says:

    They don’t care about lawyers or threats, they are hourly blokes that are threatened and sneered at all day and night.

    Border police / customs have a lot of power.

    They can easily go through your materials and ask for original copies or documentation for software installed or god forbid you have CDRs or an ipod with music on it.

    Pissing them off is not a good idea.

  74. Pieps says:

    @#29
    I see what you did there.

    Seriously though, despite the fact that people are technically not in the US when they’re being hassled by customs, they still retain their constitutional right to privacy, don’t they? Like Jeff said, “no warrant, no look.”

  75. Takuan says:

    I wonder how long it will take after the current criminal gang in Washington is evicted for any change at all to trickle down to ordinary people trying to travel.

    A huge racket has been built,lots of money is at stake,jobs,contracts and the usual corruption. I can’t see any of those presently profiting from Gulag America letting go without a fight.

    Come to think of it,never minding how convenient a major “terrorist act” in the USA would be (timed right), isn’t it going to be in the interests of the TSA etc. to suddenly start having a lot of “success” with their dubious screenings?

    Might be a good idea to sit tight for a while. You may run the risk of becoming someone’s visible “example”.

  76. Antinous says:

    There was a story on BB about 6 months ago about a visiting professor(?) from Canada who was stopped at customs. They looked him up online while he was waiting, found a mention of drug use in the 60s and now he’s permanently banned from the US. Those customs officers don’t always have a probably using technology to snoop you out. I hope that they never research my BB comment history.

  77. zuzu says:

    Perfectly legal, as airports are public places, and you can film in a public place anywhere under the law, sans use of a telephoto lens or something that films into the private property (land) of another.

    Um, maybe my understanding of physics differs from yours, but I’m pretty sure that optics don’t “see in” so much as light “radiates out”.

    p.s. Even in OSX 10.5 Leopard, FileVault refuses to work on case-sensitive HFS+ formatted volumes!

  78. Takuan says:

    I’ll be franchising E-waste disposal concessions at airports throughout North America. For a reasonable fee, I’ll set you up with a kiosk, a list of clients wishing their obsolete computers and laptops etc. disposed of in an ecologically sound manner and everything else you will need to sell credible decoy electronics to travelers. Let’s see how much warehouse space the TSA will rent from me in turn to store all this confiscated gear. Everyone wins and I get paid from both ends. Think of it as a pageant.

    @Jeff: you only THINK you are not an AI. The matrix comes for machines first.

  79. Takuan says:

    I remember that, he was studying forbidden knowledge. It is probably a mistake to let high school drop outs decide which academics are allowed to enter.

    http://thetyee.ca/News/2007/04/23/Feldmar/

  80. Takuan says:

    oh, and in future I will always travel with a one quart baggie labelled “Fresh Protons”

  81. Antinous says:

    Ohayo gozaimasu or konnichiwa as appropriate. How do you always find these things so quickly with so few details? You must be a native Google speaker.

  82. Takuan says:

    Has anyone ever gotten into trouble offering bananas to Customs workers?
    Hey, that could become a badge of honor; everyone passing a border or going through an airport could have a banana on a string around their neck, The standard answer when challenged could be: “It’s for Security!”

  83. Anonymous says:

    The TSA (and many other US agencies) seem seriously retarded. The only thing protecting the USA is the fact that the majority of terrorists are even dumber.

    There are so many ways to get around their moronic attempts at monitoring “data” crossing the USA border.

    Hiding data to the point where it is possible to even deny it’s very existence is simple these days.

    The only explanation I can think of (other than that they are morons) is that it is just an excuse to profile, harass or commit industrial espionage against individuals and companies that pose zero risk to US national security.

  84. Takuan says:

    when you grow up having to find things by file cards and physically checking shelves (miles of them), Google is transcendence sublime. I pity the kids when the Collapse comes.

    Further on the Banana Protest, banana t-shirts, bananaphone ringtones and MP3 cuts, banana screensavers, banana key chains, banana flavoured liquids in 3 oz bottles, …. “OOOOK!!” would be the greeting in the Banana-zoku.

    In the camps they sang “My Thoughts Are Free”.

  85. Kinnaird says:

    “Land of the free”. So you have rights but dare not speak up or you will be attacked by the government?

  86. dainel says:

    Run your notebook without a hard disk. Boot it off a live Linux CD (eg Puppy Linux). Save your “data” to a USB flash drive. This is not your real data. Just pick a few innocuous documents you don’t mind them copying. Save them again to force the time stamp to change. Go to wikipedia, save a few articles about your destination.

    Here’s the story you give the customs officer. You want to know why my notebook does not have a hard disk? It crashed a week ago, and I had to send it in for repair, I’m still waiting for it to come back … (complain a bit about how it takes so long to boot up from the CD, about how you probably lose all your data, how you probably should have made backups, etc, try to get their sympathies).

    Actually you’ve packed your hard disk with your checked-in luggage. Remember to use lots of bubble wrap for padding. :-)

  87. Takuan says:

    why can’t you tell them you blanked your drives so they, Customs, couldn’t read them and all your data is coming to you via the web after arrival. Is that illegal?

  88. Anonymous says:

    Travel tip: get a spare hard drive for your laptop. Copy all your data onto it, minus any confidential/proprietary stuff. Use it a little so there are fresh browser histories etc. on it. Before going to the airport, put your real hard drive in your checked luggage and put the spare in your laptop for CBP’s enjoyment. Make the password something easy, like “swordfish”.

    I know, it’s not very clever. Cleverness is not what you want here. Even stupid cops can sense cleverness, and they don’t like it.

    Actually, on second thought, don’t even carry your laptop. Have it shipped to your destination and back home. CBP may still “inspect” it, but it won’t keep you waiting.

    On third thought: Let’s not just hope things like this stop under Obama.

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