Trump administration wants to force visitors to US to reveal social media passwords and answer questions about political beliefs

The latest crayon-scrawled, unconstitutional, sure-to-be-challenged plan from the Trump White House for America's borders would require visitors to the US to reveal their social media passwords so CBP officers could read their private messages and look at their friends lists; they will also have to answer questions about their political beliefs -- the plan would cover visitors from all over, including countries in the US Visa Waiver program. Read the rest

Bipartisan bill would end warrantless border searches of US persons' data

Under the Protecting Data at the Border Act, devices "belonging to or in the possession of a United States person" (a citizen or Green Card holder) could no longer be searched at the border without a warrant. Agents would no longer be able to deny US persons entry or exit on the basis of a refusal to allow such a search (but they could seize the equipment). Read the rest

Racist border policies mean Toronto school board will no longer allow trips to Trump's USA

Toronto high-school students have been visiting the USA since their inception; I remember my own high-school trips to Buffalo's Albright Knox gallery warmly. But they are a relic of the past, because the Toronto District School Board will not risk harassment and worse of its students at the US border, where people born to Arab or Muslim families, or in majority-Muslim families, report widespread discrimination. Read the rest

CBP conducted more device searches at the border in Feb than in all of 2015

There's been precious little litgation about the Customs and Border Protection Agency's far-reaching policy of invasively searching devices at the US border, so it's a legal greyzone (but you do have some rights). Read the rest

EFF presents: a guide to protecting your data privacy when crossing the US border

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just updated its 2011 guide to Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border with an all new edition that covers the law, administrative rules, technological options and potential repercussions of crossing the US border while not undergoing the warrantless seizure and indefinite retention of all of your sensitive data -- in a guide that breaks out the different risks for US citizens, US permanent residents, and visitors to the USA. Read the rest

US border guards can't believe Nigerian man is a software engineer, google "questions to ask a software engineer" and give him a pop quiz

Celestine Omin is a Nigerian software engineer who works for Andela, a technology company backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded to give talented African coders an entree into the leading American tech firms; this week, he flew to the USA on a B1/B2 visa to meet with the company, but he found himself detained at the border. Read the rest

A "travel mode" for social media - after all, you don't take all your other stuff with you on the road

As the US government ramps up its insistence that visitors (and US citizens) unlock their devices and provide their social media accounts, the solution have run the gamut from extreme technological caution, abandoning mobile devices while traveling, or asking the government to rethink its policy. But Maciej Cegłowski has another solution: a "travel mode" for our social media accounts. Read the rest

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

The combination of 2014's Supreme Court decision not to hear Cotterman (where the 9th Circuit held that the data on your devices was subject to suspicionless border-searches, and suggested that you simply not bring any data you don't want stored and shared by US government agencies with you when you cross the border) and Trump's announcement that people entering the USA will be required to give border officers their social media passwords means that a wealth of sensitive data on our devices and in the cloud is now liable to search and retention when we cross into the USA. Read the rest

Have your devices and social media been invasively searched at the US border? EFF wants to know about it

After the chaos of the Muslim ban, EFF activists are worried that the TSA's existing policy of invasive data-collection at the border may be getting even worse. They're looking for stories from everyone, but especially citizens and green card holders. Read the rest

US Border Agents are requiring returning Muslim-Americans to disclose social media information

Obama's policy of allowing border agents to demand foreigners' social media accounts at border crossing has been expanded under Trump; now, people are being illegally profiled based on their religious affiliation and made to hand over their social media logins for data-mining and algorithmic suspicion-generation when they return home to the USA. Read the rest

Customs officers not fooled by marijuana disguised as watermelons

Three-thousand pounds of marijuana were seized recently at Pharr International Bridge on the Rio Grande. Customs and Border Protection report that the weed, disguised as watermelons, did not fool the sniffer dogs during inspection of a 1993 Thermo King tractor-trailer.

The search resulted in the discovery of 390 packages disguised as watermelons. The packages contained a total of 3,000 pounds of alleged marijuana, which CBP reports is valued at approximately $600,092.

“Smugglers continue to be creative as they attempt to introduce illegal narcotics into our country,” said Port Director Efrain Solis Jr., Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry in a release. “Our frontline CBP officers’ experience, vigilance and attention to detail prevents the introduction of these dangerous drugs into our country.”

Read the rest

Undercover with a prepper militia that patrols the border to fight "drug cartels"

Shane Bauer, the investigative journalist whose four month stint in a privately run Louisiana prison was one of 2016's most important pieces of journalism, has published a new piece in Mother Jones, this one detailing his time patrolling with the Three Percent United Patriots and other right-wing militias that are preparing for an epic civil war in which the US government will be overthrown and they will be the only citizens of a new country, with everyone else serving as "worker bees...down in the field growing food, gathering wood." Read the rest

The dubious upsides of having a Syrian passport

Marcell Shehwaro's magnificent, sarcastic, angry essay in Global Voices expresses her gratitude for her Syrian passport, because it has allowed her to see how states are willing to punish the already brutalized out of rage and fear. Read the rest

SURVEY: Your views on US Customs' plan to search your social media at the border

Deji from Access Now writes, "You remember that spooky story about the U.S. screening everyone’s social media 'presence' at the border? Well, now there’s a way to tell the government exactly what you think about it." Read the rest

US Customs and Border Protection wants to ask for your "online presence" at the border

The week, the US CBP published a notice in the Federal Register proposing a change to the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record paperwork that visitors to the US fill out when they cross the border, in which they announce plans to ask travellers to "please enter information associated with your online presence." Read the rest

Mayor of Stockton, CA detained by DHS at SFO, forced to give up laptop password

Mayor Anthony R. Silva was on his way back from a mayor's conference in China when the DHS border guards confiscated his laptop and phones and detained him, telling him he would not be allowed to leave until he gave them his passwords. He has still not had his devices returned. Read the rest

Iran arms deal prosecution falls apart because of warrantless laptop search

The case against Jae Shik Kim -- a South Korean exec caught selling weapons components to Iran -- has collapsed because the prosecutors abused the rule allowing them to search laptop hard-drives without a warrant when someone is at a "border crossing" (in this case, LAX). Read the rest

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