"I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again. Neither should you."

Quincy Larson asks you to image "What’s the worst thing that could happen if the Customs and Border Patrol succeed in getting ahold of your unlocked phone?"


Think of all of the people you’ve ever called or emailed, and all the people you’re connected with on Facebook and LinkedIn. What are the chances that one of them has committed a serious crime, or will do so in the future?

Have you ever taken a photo at a protest, bought a controversial book on Amazon, or vented about an encounter with a police officer to a loved one? That information is now part of your permanent record, and could be dragged out as evidence against you if you ever end up in court.

There’s a movement within government to make all data from all departments available to all staff at a local, state, and federal level. The more places your data ends up, the larger a hacker’s “attack surface” is — that is, the more vulnerable your data is. A security breach in a single police station in the middle of nowhere could result in your data ending up in the hands of hackers — and potentially used against you from the shadows — for the rest of your life.

Quincy's recommendation: "When you travel internationally, you should leave your mobile phone and laptop at home. You can rent phones at most international airports that include data plans."


US-born NASA scientist was detained at the border until he unlocked his phone

How to legally cross a US (or other) border without surrendering your data and passwords

Notable Replies

  1. TobinL says:

    yeah well sorry learned about that one from my grandfather via my mom back in the pre-internet days.
    you want a book in that category you go to a bookstore and pay cash.

  2. Jorpho says:

    Is that really a thing now? I did not realize. (I might not even have a phone right now if I knew about that not so long ago.)

    But of course, when you rent a phone, how can you be sure the rental phone isn't already infested with malware and sending everything back to the rental company (or some devious hacker who hacked the rental company)? If you've kept your browsing history clear, no one's going to find out about that controversial book you bought on Amazon without your Amazon password – which you're just as likely to enter on your rental phone as on your own personal phone.

  3. kpkpkp says:

    How about you have your previous (or alternate) phone, which you've performed factory reset (or better) wiping precaution. You move your SIM to it and then use it simply as a phone, which is quite handy when traveling.

  4. Why would you rent a phone from the same airport where border agents might be rooting your phone when a useable smartphone costs less than a cheap dinner for two? And a used one from a hole-in-the-wall phone repair shop costs even less?

  5. I'm a librarian, therefore all ur bannd books are belong to me.

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