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Laptops Can Be Searched At the Border

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the don't-need-no-stinkin'-suspicion dept.

Privacy 821

Nothing to Declare notes that a California appeals court has unanimously upheld a ruling that border security officers at international airports can search personal computers without requiring any specific evidence of criminal activity. The appeal was made by US resident Michael Timothy Arnold, charged with child pornography offenses after an airport search of his notebook PC in 2005. Might want to think hard about what's on your laptop if you're going to be passing through a US international airport.

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821 comments

I Wonder (5, Insightful)

OS24Ever (245667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160968)

It makes you wonder that if there hadn't been something like Child Porn on there if this would have been overruled.

If it'd been a violation of rights search where they searched and you sued just for that with no criminal conviction.

The sad part, is this sets a president if it is allowed to stand, and whittles away at everything else.

Re:I Wonder (4, Insightful)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161090)

It makes you wonder if Slashdot would've even posted something like this if it didn't involve computers...
FTFA:

"Arnold has failed to distinguish how the search of his laptop and its electronic contents is logically any different from the suspicionless border searches of travelers' luggage that the Supreme Court and we have allowed," wrote Justice Diarmuid O'Scannlain.
Is searching the files on a laptop when entering the country any different from searching paper files in a briefcase at the border?

Re:I Wonder (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161150)

You can't carry drugs or bombs on a hard disk.

Re:I Wonder (2, Funny)

torqer (538711) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161144)

That's right! We should make all presidents sit. I wonder if you can set a president to self destruct?

Re:I Wonder (5, Informative)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161168)

The sad part, is this sets a president if it is allowed to stand, and whittles away at everything else.

First, you mean precedent. The President is the guy at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. "Precedent" is what judges use to decide cases.

That said, the border search exception [wikipedia.org] has always allowed the government to search your bags when you cross the border, to look for drugs, guns, agricultural products, etc. Think about passing through Customs at any international crossing -- they get to randomly pull you out of line and dump out the contents of your bag for any reason whatsoever (or no reason whatsoever) and make sure you're not smuggling anything into the country. That understanding of the Fourth Amendment has been on the books for centuries. It might be "right" or "wrong," but there's no doubt that it's been the law for ages.

Re:I Wonder (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161350)

That understanding of the Fourth Amendment has been on the books for centuries. It might be "right" or "wrong," but there's no doubt that it's been the law for ages.
Wow, a centuries old precedent that was derived from a 22 year old Supreme Court case? That's pretty amazing.

Re:I Wonder (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161408)

It has been the law, but this new one applies to electronic data on a laptop. Thinkofthechildren and terrorist! come to mind with the motivation of passing this ruling. If anyone honestly believes that anyone coming into the country would attempt to bring some sort of sensitive or malicious information into the country on a laptop is obviously severely naÃve. I still would like to know how this applies to single disk drives and desktop computers since all of the previous [slashdot.org] articles [slashdot.org] don't explicitly mention those besides laptops. Simple confiscation?

Re:I Wonder (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161470)

somehow the formatting changed my naive to naÃve. doesn't like the dieresis?

Re:I Wonder (1)

Erioll (229536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161492)

Well to my understanding, this basically just says that information on laptops is subject to the same search criteria as ANY OTHER type of information you're carrying on you. If you have a bunch of folders with printouts of incriminating photos, or they're on your laptop, this says that they're treated exactly the same.

Re:I Wonder (1)

OS24Ever (245667) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161480)

yay for spell checker and not looking closely. I knew the word, spelled it wrong and lazily used the firefox spell checker and clicked the wrong one and didn't notice.

Re:I Wonder (5, Funny)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161226)

Time for all of us to let our laptops boot up into obscure korean, sami or other languages when they are going to inspect them. Maybe a power supply requiring a 400VAC feed too - and no battery :-)

Odd operating systems like AROS or text only interfaces may also do well. You just can't fail the nerdity test then!

Re:I Wonder (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161490)

I hope their detainment rooms are extra comfy since you'll be waiting a while for a Korean electrical engineer to show up!

Remember, if they don't recognize it, you're going to be there for a while...

Re:I Wonder (5, Funny)

Teckla (630646) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161298)

The sad part, is this sets a president if it is allowed to stand, and whittles away at everything else.

The Supreme Court doesn't set presidents, they set precedents.

Oh, wait...

That's not all, it movig to internal check points (1)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23160986)

Just read about how DHS is setting up internal domestic check points: SlashDot [slashdot.org]

I remember this happening to me. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161006)

I was on a personal holiday to Mexico, just to see the sites and so on. The border guards had a keen interest in my equipment. I am a photographer, so I had cameras, memory sticks, laptop yada yada... Seriously, it took me an hour just to get through. I wrote about it on my blog [slashdot.org] . I was not a happy bunny.

Re:I remember this happening to me. (3, Funny)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161032)

So, an AC sends a link to "his blog", and the link is dead?

You sir, are made of fail.

Re:I remember this happening to me. (1)

celardore (844933) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161118)

Looks like it was just a troll who forgot to add "http://", check out the rest of the url....

Dupe-a-licious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161148)

Besides the fact this THIS IS A DUPE.

Re:I remember this happening to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161158)

You sir, are made of fail.
Failure is not an option.
Fail is not a noun.

Re:I remember this happening to me. (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161078)

Heh, wonder if they were keen on checking out some racy spring break shots ;)

MOD PARENT DOWN - TROLL LINK (1)

ewhac (5844) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161116)

If you manually fix the link, you're taken to a troll page.

Cmon people (1, Insightful)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161016)

Search and siezure with NO EVIDENCE OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY??
How is this even remotely legal?
Can this possibly set a precedent for searching other items?
Why are computers treated any differently than anything else?
What threat does data on a computer pose to an airplane?
I would think a backpack or suitcase would be able to do more damage.

I feel lightheaded...

Re:Cmon people (1)

scummable (992752) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161066)

I think the difference, right or wrong, is that it is at the border, which is subject to a different set of rules.

Re:Cmon people (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161456)

I've been searched a bunch of times without cause between El Paso and Las Cruces. Texas and New Mexico are technically in the U.S.

Re:Cmon people (5, Informative)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161114)

Why are computers treated any differently than anything else?

That's the entire point of the ruling. The government has always been able to search your bags when you cross the border, to look for drugs and guns coming into the country. That's been on the books for 200 years. The question was whether computers would be treated differently and get more protection than everything else.

What threat does data on a computer pose to an airplane?

It's not about getting on airplanes. This does not apply to domestic flights. It's about stuff crossing the border by any means. Presumably, this would apply just as much if you crossed the border by train or in a car.

The case has nothing to do with airplanes. It has to do with the "border search exception" to the warrant requirement.

Re:Cmon people (3, Informative)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161140)

Sorry, missing link on preview:

Explanation of the border search exception [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Cmon people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161266)

We could stop this whole thread just by modding this post up.

Re:Cmon people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161382)

So what is the difference between the content of my laptop and the content of my email? Both cross the border.

What if my laptop is unsearchable? Will I be denied entry because I removed the HDD, or because the HDD is dead or whatever?

Are you so sure? (2, Informative)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161428)

Check out how the border patrol is detaining people domestically in this new story [nwsource.com]

Re:Cmon people (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161134)

Search and seizure's been allowed at border crossings for a long, long time. Hell, I even had to declare any fruits or vegatables at the california border the other day. The only thing that's new about this is it happened on a laptop.

Me too (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161396)

I had to declare any fruits when I left San Francisco the other day.

Re:Cmon people (2, Funny)

Squiffy (242681) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161156)

Eh, who needs the 4th amendment? As long as I have the illusion of safety from those ter'rists, I'll sleep like a baby. Why would the government misuse this power? I mean, they're all a bunch of Christians, right?

Re:Cmon people (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161284)

You don't have a 4th Amendment right to cross the US border. Outside the US border, the US has no duty to protect your 4th Amendment rights either.

All governments have always rightfully had the power to control traffic across their borders.

Re:Cmon people (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161496)

Um, wait. What?

These searches have to be taking place inside the US border by definition. It's not like Canada would let a bunch of US agents operate a checkpoint in their territory.

Re:Cmon people (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161532)

Outside the US border, the US has no duty to protect your 4th Amendment rights either.
I'm failing to see the relevance of your statement. These searches are done by the CBP within the US border. Who said anything about the US having a duty to protect 4th Amendment rights outside of the US?

Time to think (4, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161022)

Might want to think hard about what's on your laptop if you're going to be passing through a US international airport.

Might want to think hard about making a trip to the states even if you don't have anything untoward on your laptop.

Re:Time to think (1)

glidermike (1062790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161152)

Is the U.S. no longer the home of the brave and the land of the free? Is it sliding down the slope towards dictatorship? It's a scary thought when these people are one of the most powerful and influential nations on earth.

Re:Time to think (2, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161338)

It came about because people are to lazy to take responcibility for themselfs they want the government to do it all. So it obliges and once that happends they start complaining their rights are being taken away.

When you Cry think of the children. An other right is taken away.

Re:Time to think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161516)

It sounds like you're non-US, but anybody who feels that this is bad policy can write their Senator or vote the current administration out of office in November. The courts are not the only way to protect our rights.

Re:Time to think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161460)

I agree...this country is starting to look more like nazi germany.

Where and how do they search (4, Interesting)

Kandenshi (832555) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161040)

How deeply can/do they search a laptop while I'm waiting to get on my plane?

I know encryption gets their panties in a twist, but suppose I have data I want kept private is just burying it in a weird location good enough?
What are they actually looking for, and how would they be searching for it? Unlikely to get them disclosing said techniques publicly, so... Rampant speculation? :P

Re:Where and how do they search (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161088)

There have been a number of cases where the DHS permanently confiscates the laptop.

Re:Where and how do they search (4, Insightful)

peipas (809350) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161106)

And that's the thing. Like the last /. discussion on this, if your hard drive is encrypted can they compel you to provide access as a condition for allowed travel?

What about employees of organizations/in professions that are legally required to protect information?

Re:Where and how do they search (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161126)

truecrypt

Re:Where and how do they search (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161196)

How deeply can/do they search a laptop while I'm waiting to get on my plane?

Well, they're not really limited by when your plan leaves.

They will hold you until they're done with you -- if you don't make your flight, that's not their problem, really.

I know encryption gets their panties in a twist, but suppose I have data I want kept private is just burying it in a weird location good enough?

They don't feel you have any right to privacy when crossing the boarder. Any attempt to maintain privacy is clearly an attempt to evade detection.

People who are evading detection clearly have something to hide, and merit further questioning.

You really are fsck'd either way. And, in the end, they could just keep the laptop anyway if they choose.

Cheers

Re:Where and how do they search (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161212)

They don't feel you have any right to privacy when crossing the boarder. Any attempt to maintain privacy is clearly an attempt to evade detection.

Border, even. :-P

Cheers

Re:Where and how do they search (2, Interesting)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161334)

There have reportedly been instances where they've just copied entire hard disks wholesale, so that's a moot point.

Time to Roll Out The Crypto (2, Interesting)

ewhac (5844) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161048)

I imagine there's some thinly-parsed definition about whether or not you're officially on US soil when you're entering Customs and, therefore, whether the Fifth Amendment could be said to apply.

The next logical question is, if you password-protect and encrypt your hard drive to thwart precisely this kind of unwarranted and unjustifiable privacy invasion, can Customs force you to divulge your passwords?

Schwab

Re:Time to Roll Out The Crypto (3, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161200)

I'm sure NYCL can give a better answer, but there has been some use of the 5th amendment right that protects you from having to incriminate yourself to legally allow you to not give them the password, or divulge where files are on your laptop.

My advice is bury it, encrypt it. Use obscurity in as much as you have several partitions encrypted, and when/if forced by courts to give up the password, give them the password to only one partition and counter sue for loss of data if you can. I forget what movie it was in but the bad guy said "always be guilty of a lesser crime" to avoid doing hard time.

Yep put your data in encrypted partition ABC, then a bunch of scientology and /b/ stuff in another encrypted partition xyz. If you are forced to surrender a password, give them only the password for partition xyz. Lie and tell them that is the only password.

Re:Time to Roll Out The Crypto (5, Informative)

gethoht (757871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161206)

I highly recommend using truecrypt and incorporating a hidden volume [truecrypt.org] . That way if you need to divulge a password, you can just give them one that allows access to a volume that doesn't have the sensitive data they are looking for.

Re:Time to Roll Out The Crypto (4, Informative)

mr_majestyk (671595) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161230)

The next logical question is, if you password-protect and encrypt your hard drive to thwart precisely this kind of unwarranted and unjustifiable privacy invasion, can Customs force you to divulge your passwords?

not YET... [news.com]

Re:Time to Roll Out The Crypto (2, Insightful)

Yogiz (1123127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161346)

The next logical question is, if you password-protect and encrypt your hard drive to thwart precisely this kind of unwarranted and unjustifiable privacy invasion, can Customs force you to divulge your passwords?

Schwab

The answer to this is to use deniable encryption. For example throw all your sensitive data on a separate partition that is at the end of the hard drive and encrypt it. Not the data, the partition. Keep the decryption tools on a separate pen drive or just make them look like something innocent. Now it looks just as if part of the hard drive is simply unused. If they don't know the encryption is there, they can't do anything. If a window jumps up at boot that says "Enter the passphrase that will decrypt the harddrive where all the information that customs shouldn't see is" you can be sure you'll be searched and probed in minutes.

Re:Time to Roll Out The Crypto (2, Insightful)

kpoole55 (1102793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161510)

I imagine that if you encrypt your data and then refuse to give them the password it would be treated something along the lines of refusing to give a breathalyzer sample. In their eyes, the only reason you'd refuse is because you're trying to hide something illegal. The solution is to have nothing on your notebook, keep all your work or pr0n on your machine at home and access it via some remote desktop service or home server.

4th Amendment... (5, Insightful)

Delwin (599872) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161054)

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. " I can see them checking your person before getting on a plane to make sure you're not carrying weapons... but what on your laptop could possibly endanger an airplane?

Re:4th Amendment... (1)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161204)

Obviously you haven't seen any "hacker" movies in the past 15 years or so...

Re:4th Amendment... (1)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161228)

but what on your laptop could possibly endanger an airplane?

It's not about airplanes. It's about crossing the border into the US. Presumably, the same rule would apply if you cross the border by car or by train or by boat.

Think about going through international customs at any major airport. You go through US customs after you've already landed. The point is to control smuggling of goods into the US, not to protect airplanes.

Re:4th Amendment... (4, Informative)

Erioll (229536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161442)

Think about going through international customs at any major airport. You go through US customs after you've already landed. The point is to control smuggling of goods into the US, not to protect airplanes.
Depends. If flying from Canada, in many airports (Calgary at the least) you can actually pre-clear customs in Canada itself, then all flights to the USA are out of a single wing of the airport so you're essentially "in the USA" at that point, and don't need to clear after you land. Works out for everybody really. If there's a problem you're not in ANOTHER city when it happens, and the airlines themselves don't need to fly somebody BACK if there's a problem either.

Not that it's ever happened for me. I swear when they scan my passport the screen comes up with a big message saying "BORING" and they just let me through. Which is fine with me!

Re:4th Amendment... (5, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161474)

Think about going through international customs at any major airport. You go through US customs after you've already landed. The point is to control smuggling of goods into the US, not to protect airplanes.
I agree, but that reasoning only works for physical goods. If I'm trying to smuggle cocaine into the U.S., then yeah searching me at the border could stop me. But we're talking about data - ones and zeros. If I'm trying to smuggle it into the U.S., I don't need to carry it on my laptop, I could just email it to someone already in the U.S. Or leave it on a server outside the U.S., enter the U.S., open an SSH tunnel to the server, and ftp the files over.

Re:4th Amendment... (0, Troll)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161328)

"...secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" --Where have I read that before? Oh right NOW I rememeber! It was on that new Bill of Rights Toilet Paper(TM) with all ten printed on each sheet. I hear they are all the rage these days among jack boots and Congress-critters..

Re:4th Amendment... (0, Troll)

deviantphil (543645) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161336)

GWB phased out the fourth amendment long ago with a double secret executive order! DUH! Stay with the times, man! ;)

Re:4th Amendment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161436)

i thought clinton did that with his crack down on the evil evil militias. i'm sure no ones 4th amendment right was violated by the lynching of such a constitutionally upheld institution.

Re:4th Amendment... (5, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161464)

You don't have a 4th Amendment right to cross the US border.

As a condition of allowing you to cross the border, you are subject to search. It is as simple as that.

All governments have always rightfully had the power to control traffic across their borders.

Re:4th Amendment... (1)

BobSixtyFour (967533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161484)

I guess the the question now becomes: Whats the definition of "unreasonable" searches.

Re:4th Amendment... (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161494)

The wireless card!

security vs privacy (1)

Equlizer (1174769) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161056)

Such a sad state of affairs. A true invasion of privacy. So do they have permission to open up my server rack or hard drives i happen to be taking as carry on? How about my Ipod? Some idiot that thinks security out weighs privacy should be dealt with. The man who would choose security over freedom deserves neither. Thomas Jefferson : American statesman (3rd US President: 1801-09), wrote Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)

Re:security vs privacy (2, Interesting)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161260)

Then put your money where your mouth is and vote the bums out. If Congress writes a law saying "no laptops shall be inspected at the border" then no laptops would be inspected at the border. The courts are not the only way to protect our rights.

Re:security vs privacy (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161390)

Riiight.

And let me know when you can get past the special interest groups who are happily devouring the souls of the congressman who sold their souls to them.

Re:security vs privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161526)

I thought it was Franklin.

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

        * This statement was used as a motto on the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania. (1759) which was attributed to Franklin in the edition of 1812, but in a letter of September 27, 1760 to David Hume, he states that he published this book and denies that he wrote it, other than a few remarks that were credited to the Pennsylvania Assembly, in which he served. The phrase itself was first used in a letter from that Assembly dated November 11, 1755 to the Governor of Pennsylvania. An article on the origins of this statement here includes a scan that indicates the original typography of the 1759 document, which uses an archaic form of "s": "ThoÅe who would give up Essential Liberty to purchaÅe a little Temporary Safety, deÅerve neither Liberty nor Safety." Researchers now believe that a fellow diplomat by the name of Richard Jackson is the primary author of the book. With the information thus far available the issue of authorship of the statement is not yet definitely resolved, but the evidence indicates it was very likely Franklin, who in the Poor Richard's Almanack of 1738 is known to have written a similar proverb: "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power."

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin

HOWTO pass privacy invading legislation (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161062)

1. send undercover agent with Child Porn on X, where X is the desired search target
2. pretend to succeed in apprehending the evil child pornographer
3. profit!

(Not that I don't agree with smacking down pedophiles--even executing them.)

Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161068)

Yet another reason to use encryption, if you hadn't enough already.

On the plus side... (3, Insightful)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161070)

This should cause a nice bump for encrypted drive/volume software.

It's a real shame this revolved around a kiddie porn case that hinged on the admissibility of the evidence. Nobody wants to let the kiddie porn guy go, so the chances of getting a good precedent here were probably that much lower.

Logically Different (3, Interesting)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161082)

Arnold has failed to distinguish how the search of his laptop and its electronic contents is logically any different from the suspicionless border searches of travelers' luggage that the Supreme Court and we have allowed," wrote Justice Diarmuid O'Scannlain.
I think we've all forgotten something. The reason "suspicionless border searches of travelers' luggage" was initially allowed was to find bombs. I have yet to see a data file so explosive that it can take out an airliner.

Re:Logically Different (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161234)

Reason? That doesn't apply to bullshit.

Re:Logically Different (5, Informative)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161418)

You've got two different searches confused.

The search of people flying on any flight is an "administrative search" to look for weapons. It is strictly limited to searching for weapons--if the cops see drugs they can bust you, but they can't look for drugs or evidence of any other crime.

This is not the same search. This is the Customs search at the border and it has nothing to do with flying. Think about going through US Customs after you land in the US. The key is that it's after you've already landed. The government has always been able to look for drugs at US Customs, which has nothing to do with airline safety. (While a couple of kilos of blow might make your flight more entertaining, it's hardly the sort of thing that makes airplanes crash).

There's a very important difference between pre-flight safety searches (applies to any flight, domestic or international) and customs searches (applies to any means of entering the country).

Be Prepared (3, Insightful)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161162)

Idiot got caught with child porn. Zero sympathy here. However it's a slippery slope.

What about software, videos, MP3? What if they want proof of license? They could also decide to download your email inbox and address book. Why? Because They Can.
I know what's going on my laptop next time I cross the border. TrueCrypt. That's what.

mp3s, aacs, DivX, Xvids, Warez, oh my! (1)

rdhatch (1253652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161166)

With all of the digital media that we tote around on our 250GB hard drives (I in particular drag around 100 GB of media when on transcontinental trips), this sort of thing makes you wonder...if they are going to search and seize...without probable cause...whats next? Does the RIAA and the MPAA jump in too and try to catch people who enjoy their "own" in-flight entertainment? Being a firearms aficionado (I collect a library of guns and compete very heavily), I have learned that their are some entities in the government that dont really care about due process and what the law says...search/seizure. They glaze right over a lot of stuff. While I personally have never had ANY problems with the BATFE, I have heard countless stories of scary things that happen to innocent people and it takes a lot of money to clear their good name...but I digress.

Old News (1)

nautsch (1186995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161178)

This is old news.

And to those, who say: "encrypt and be happy!": I am sorry. Customs will KEEP your laptop. If you dont tell the password you will not get it back.

The only thing you CAN do is to go into the US with a completely clean (empty except for an OS) notebook and get your data via a secure internet connection from whereever it lies.

nautsch

Re:Old News (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161254)

So is it like they seize it as contraband and it becomes government property?

Re:Old News (1)

nautsch (1186995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161306)

I don't know what they do with it, but it is common practice in cooperations to clean notebooks and get the data via Internet exactly because of this behaviour.

Think of the children!! (1)

Shadowruni (929010) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161210)

Think of the children! Ok, there now that that's out of the way... I think he should appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. This is a constitutional matter given that the bill rights was violated. I don't mind crossing the border as my notebook uses whole disk encryption (I back the thing up constantly because a LOT of code lives on it.) and I use two factor auth, (a LOT of VERY valuable code) I don't care if they try to search it. If I trash the mini-SD (have an excrypted backup at home) disk that holds the second key (besides I don't know that code anyway), doesn't matter if I tell them the first one. Besides you can't be made to bear witness against yourself, hence you can't be ordered to produce a code anyway. They could waterboard me... but I'm not that important but in the end I know I'll end up in MinLove so why bother...

Don't Be Stupid (0, Redundant)

guytoronto (956941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161214)

They can search your person for drugs, fruits, vegetables, undeclared trinkets, or whatever, all because they are allowed to control what flows into the country. Digital data is no different. Yes, they can't stop the Internet, but they can control video tapes and DVDs. That is digital data, and nobody cries when they bust illegal imports of movies. If you have sensitive data on your computer, PROTECT IT. It is easy enough encrypt your data. Border officials can't force you to decrypt your data. What are they going to do? Go Zoolander on it?

5th Ammendment? (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161218)

I'd specifically ask what the heck they were searching my laptop for.

Unless they declare what they are searching for, and have a list of exactly it is prepared ahead of time, then anything they find, I would argue, would be inadmissible in court.

While I think that child pornographers and those that subscribe/collect/view that kind of material are the lowest form of scum and villainy in the world, and deserve whatever crap they get in life, there is a line between sanity and insanity here that has been crossed.

Now if you're going to search for kiddie porn or whatever, then it should be clear that is what is being searched for before they leave whatever nation (where kiddie porn may or may not be legal) they were in previously.

Did I mention, I hate to fly these days, because I'm a big 6'5" and have a beard, so I must be bad, and I get all the "special" treatment by our fine TSA officials?

GRRRRRR.

Free to look--but what if your system is locked? (2, Funny)

IronChef (164482) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161270)

I'm literally angry with rage!

If your laptop asks for a password at startup, can they legally compel you to provide it? If the court likened the laptop to luggage, I'd guess the answer is yes.

Are there any whole-disk deniable crypto systems available?

Enter password #1: Machine boots in to Windows XP Pro, stocked with a legal copy of Office and the Zune Desktop. Why, no one so boring could be bad!

Enter password #2: Machine boots in to your real system, full of suspicious looking MP3s. Also, your Firefox homepage is set to Craigslist Casual Encounters W4M.

Re:Free to look--but what if your system is locked (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161384)

Remember they don't have to let you in.

Just like if you won't let them search your locked luggage.

Yes, there are ways to get around it, it is a computer after all.

Ridiculous! (1)

wiz31337 (154231) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161274)

Absolutely ridiculous.

There are thousands of business men and women traveling in and out of the country every day with proprietary information from every industry. Many corporations forbid others to access their assets without proper Non-Disclosure Agreements in place. So what will happen with they follow corporate policy and politely refuse the search?

Obviously the laptop will have a password so the the well trained security, (whom might I add can't even identify a Mac Air over a bomb) are going to detain you while they try to hack their way in? Not to mention some companies that have hard drive encryption in place.

They will either need to build bigger detaining rooms or fix this post 9-11 freak-out policy quick.

Re:Ridiculous! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161402)

There is no reason for them to ahve information that important on their laptop.
It should be secured on the servers and accessed when needed.

isn't this like rifling through his papers? (1)

whiting (163605) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161278)

Does this mean that the border guards have the right to examine any paperwork I might be carrying?

Do they have the right to open a sealed envelope for example? I don't see much difference.

Easy Solution (1)

shdowhawk (940841) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161318)

Install linux... Keeps the virus' and "bad people" out.

In all honesty, I can only assume that their laptop searches will be short and narrowed down to using the windows search option. I doubt that they'll have *nix "experts" on hand at the airport security checks.

Alternatives (1)

Malk-a-mite (134774) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161344)

Maybe it's time to look to storing all my data on that flash drive and just shipping it to myself on location. Or maybe back to the old days with new toys, putting the OS on the flash drive so that the laptop won't boot to the OS without it.

*shrugs*

So much easier to not enter/exit the US... glad to know the terror threat will slowly help choke off international collaboration efforts on US shores.

Boom for courier companies? (2, Insightful)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161356)

Guess FedEx / DHL will run out of Laptop sized boxes soon. All those business travellers opting to send their laptop home, instead of carrying it on the plane..

Workaround: (0, Flamebait)

BobSixtyFour (967533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161386)

Get a MacBook Air. Apparently they can't tell if its a bomb or not.

That or load it with Linux, surely those low-IQ'd Americans wont be able to figure it out :P

The files are in the computer (2, Funny)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161392)

So will they be hiring Hansel [imdb.com] to search computers then?

/dev/urandom - a story (3, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161452)

Scene: Two bumbling customs officials at the International terminal departure area

Inspector Jimbob: Hey Joe, this guy has a Linux box, how do I read the files?
Inspector Joebob: Just click on the picture of a seashell and type "cat" and the name of the file.
(several minutes later)
Inspector Jimbob: I think we have a kiddie pevert here, I found a file that looks all encrypted.
Inspector Joebob: What file is it?
Inspector Jimbob: I did "cd /dev" like you showed me last week and there was this file called "urandom." I typed "cat urandom" and it's this huge encrypted file. See, it's still going. It must be kiddie porn. Or maybe it's a plot to kill the President. Yeah, that must be it, a plot to kill the President by giving him a heart attack by showing him kiddie porn.

[end]

Go for petty justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161468)

on your next border crossing load up your laptop with Cowboy Neal nudes and put them in a folder called "young nude" or something like that. I can guarantee that the border guard in question will no longer search hard drives :P

Easy solution (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161472)

Take the hard drive out and mail it to whatever location you are going to. When they turn on your laptop and can't figure out why nothing comes up, just tell them there's no drive in it.

The search should be over at that point. Unless because of doing so they hold you for more questions.

"Why did you take out the hard drive in your computer?"

"I don't want you to read my personal stuff."*

*This is the same reason George Bush has given for why he doesn't use email. In his case, you represents the media.

What they really want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23161476)

They just want my porn.

Border warrantless searches (1)

clutch110 (528473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161508)

As has been noted by other posters, border searches have been allowed for years.

A lot of people also think border searches are to prevent bombs, guns, etc. These searches are not only limited to bombs, guns or other destructive devices. Going through customs you are asked if you have an contraband, fruit, etc. This is to prevent damage to the economy and ecology.

Kudzu is not a native plant to the US. It was imported into the US and now grows throughout the south eastern United States.

Mad cow disease was also a big issue with border control.

As for searches of laptops, is child pornography not a danger to society? Of course the question then becomes, what material becomes a "danger to society".

 

If it's legal to scan your data on entering.. (2, Interesting)

sunami (751539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23161524)

It's almost as if this would set precedent for legally scanning any and all data coming into any United States servers over the Internet, and going out.
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