After four years of Freedom of Information Act litigation, the ACLU has prevailed and forced the Customs and Border Patrol to release 1,000 pages' worth of training documents in which new agents learn when they can stop people and what they can do after they stop them.
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Haisam Elsharkawi is a US citizen of Egyptian descent who was travelling to Mecca in 2017 when he was pulled out the boarding line for his flight from LAX by CBP agents who demanded that he unlock his phones; when he refused and asked for a lawyer, he was handcuffed and taken to an interrogation room where he was questioned and bullied until he unlocked his phones; the CBP officers spent 15 minutes paging through his emails, making snarky remarks about his Amazon purchase history and how many unread emails he had, and then let him go.
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Louis Rossman is one of the highest-profile independent Apple repair technicians, famous in part for fixing devices that Apple has declared to have reached their end-of-life, diverting these devices from landfill and keeping them in the hands of the people who paid good money for them.
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A new facial recognition technology screening system will soon be used on some travelers who pass through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Read the rest
Rustem Kazazi is a 67-year-old retired Albanian policeman who became a US citizen in 2010; last October, he boarded a flight from his hometown in Cleveland to Newark, planning to continue on to Albania.
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Today, the US State Department published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comment on a plan to require 15,000,000+ foreigners who get a US visitor visa to disclose all their social media identities as a condition of entry.
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One of the things that make every RFID implanted US Passport 'safe' is each document's unique cryptographic identifier. Customs and Border Protection can use this key to verify the authenticity of each passport, if they'd bother to install the software to do so.
For 12 years they have not.
Passports, like any physical ID, can be altered and forged. That's partly why for the last 11 years the United States has put RFID chips in the back panel of its passports, creating so-called e-Passports. The chip stores your passport information—like name, date of birth, passport number, your photo, and even a biometric identifier—for quick, machine-readable border checks. And while e-Passports also store a cryptographic signature to prevent tampering or forgeries, it turns out that despite having over a decade to do so, US Customs and Border Protection hasn't deployed the software needed to actually verify it.
This means that since as far back as 2006, a skilled hacker could alter the data on an e-Passport chip—like the name, photo, or expiration date—without fear that signature verification would alert a border agent to the changes. That could theoretically be enough to slip into countries that allow all-electronic border checks, or even to get past a border patrol agent into the US.
...and they need a wall. Read the rest
In a pair of open letters to Letter to The Honorable Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland, a coalition of more than 100 tech liberties groups and leading technology experts urged the DHS to abandon its plan to develop a black-box algorithmic system for predicting whether foreigners coming to the USA to visit or live are likely to be positive contributors or risks to the nation.
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Back in April, experts warned that Trump's plan to hire 5,000 new Customs and Border Patrol officers was unlikely to succeed: the agency already loses 1,000 employees per year and a significant number of applicants are disqualified on the grounds of past bad actions, from theft to rape to drug smuggling. Read the rest
Three CBP officers are facing criminal charges stemming from 2016 and 2017 incidents in which two newly hired CBP employees were locked in a small room, thrown on a table referred to as a "rape table" and then forced to endure a "simulated sex act" in which the senior officers ground their genitals against them. Read the rest
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties just filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of 11 travellers whose devices were searched at the US border; they assert that warrantless device searches violate the constitutional restriction on searches without probable cause. Read the rest
Donald Trump has vowed to crack down on immigration in America and has attempted to turn immigration cops into a kind of Praetorian Guard with flattery and promises of hiring bonanzas (the agencies have been very amenable to this sort of thing, ignoring judges and Congress and insisting that they will do anything Trump orders them to do). Read the rest
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
Two sisters who were trying to escape violence and poverty in Guatemala for a better life “became so desperately lost trekking across the Texas desert that when they saw a U.S. Customs and Border Protection truck, they waved for help,” reports the Los Angeles Times. An officer in that truck later confined them by force, and sexually assaulted them, one by one. Read the rest
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
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
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