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

Laura Poitras sues the US Government to find out why she was repeatedly detained in airports

The Oscar-winning documentarian, who directed Citizenfour, was detained and searched over 50 times, but the breaking-point was when the US Government refused to respond to her Freedom of Information Act request for the reasons for her harassment. Read the rest

US Customs and Border Protection: America's largest, most corrupt police force

The force is the largest in America, with a starved and ineffectual Internal Affairs department, which has been powerless to check the Border Patrol's slide into collusion with drug-runners, shootings of protesters, and extreme violence in border areas. Read the rest

Madeline Ashby's Hieroglyph story: "By the Time We Get To Arizona"

The Hieroglyph anthology was created by Neal Stephenson, challenging sf writers to imagine futures where ambitious technological projects improved the human condition. Read the rest

Report from America's militarized, constitution-free border-zone

The expanding powers, vicious unaccountability and violent, invasive searching conducted in America's 100-mile "border zone" should concern you. Read the rest

What it's like to come home to America if your name is "Ahmed"

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is a respected journalist who holds US citizenship. Every time he returns to his home in New York, he is detained for many hours by the DHS, subjected to humiliating questioning and detention without evidence or charge, because he fits a "profile" that seems to consist entirely of "brown dude with Arabic name who visits the middle east." He recently returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos and found himself detained for hours, despite having been assured that his name had been removed from the DHS's watch-list.

His story of harrowing treatment at JFK airport stands in sharp contrast to his experiences at checkpoints in the middle east, where security risks are much more immediate and more grave. As he points out, America has spent billions creating an aviation security system and system of border checks that have had no material impact on security, but have nonetheless enmiserated, alienated, and harassed millions of people who committed no crime and posed no threat, Read the rest

DHS stops NYT reporters at border, lies about it

Two New York Times reporters are suing the DHS, because the agency stopped them and questioned them extensively at the border, typing their answers into a computer, and then later insisted first that they weren't required to search for records, and then that they had no records at all on the men. Read the rest

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