Andreas Gal, former chief technical officer of Mozilla, filed a civil rights complaint against US Customs and Border Protection after he was detained in late 2018 for several hours at the San Francisco International Airport, interrogated, asked to unlock his devices, threatened with false criminal charges, and told he couldn't have a lawyer. He is a US citizen.
For the subsequent hours, three armed agents wearing bulletproof vests questioned the former Mozilla CTO about his trip, his current Apple employment, his past work at Mozilla, and his work as a privacy advocate.
The interrogation and search took place just a week after Apple publicly confirmed plans to buy Silk Labs, the AI-focused startup that Gal started after he left Mozilla in 2015. But in an interview with ZDNet today, Gal said that agents focused their interrogation on other topics.
"I was asked at length about my work for Mozilla," Gal said. "Until this incident, I have never been questioned like this by the CBP in my life."
"The only thing that changed recently is that I have spoken out against Trump administration policies, including immigration policies and CBP," Gal added. "I can't be sure which of these (or other) signals triggered the search, but it definitely has a chilling effect on free speech."
The agents asked Gal to unlock his smartphone and laptop. He refused. From the ACLU website:
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After Dr. Gal made clear that he would not unlock his devices without first consulting with his employer and an attorney, a CBP officer stated that Dr.