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DHS Allowed To Take Laptops Indefinitely

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the reasonable-expectation dept.

Privacy 1123

andy1307 writes with a Washington Post story giving details of Department of Homeland Security policies for border searches of laptops and other electronic devices (as well as papers). (We have been discussing border searches for a while now.) DHS says such procedures have long been in place but were "disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter," according to the article. Here is a link to the policy (PDF, 5 pages). "Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed. Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption, or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement... DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies — which apply to anyone entering the country, including US citizens — are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism... The policies cover 'any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,' including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover 'all papers and other written documentation,' including books, pamphlets and 'written materials commonly referred to as "pocket trash..."'"

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Degradation of rights for nothing (5, Insightful)

infalliable (1239578) | about 6 years ago | (#24430891)

Worst part is despite the searches and seizures, they accomplish very little. You inconvenience and step all over the rights of average, law-abiding citizens to give the impression of safety.

The worst part (5, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 6 years ago | (#24430905)

What is even worse is that if you try to use encryption to maintain a level of privacy and security, that will just mean they'll keep it longer while they try to crack it.

Re:The worst part (3, Informative)

Takumi2501 (728347) | about 6 years ago | (#24431119)

Steganography anyone?

Re:The worst part (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 6 years ago | (#24431145)

4096 bit RSA sounds good...


now, where did i put that backup of my data? i just won an excuse to buy that sweet new laptop i wanted!

Re:The worst part (5, Insightful)

link-error (143838) | about 6 years ago | (#24431219)

    Strong encryption with internet storage is the only way to go now I'm afraid.

Re:The worst part (1)

kitgerrits (1034262) | about 6 years ago | (#24431275)

for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing

If I understand the article correctly, they are no longer required to return the laptop, so I say break out the 2048-bit keys!
You know, using fun keys like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (bloody Dark Forces game).

Re:Degradation of rights for nothing (1)

infalliable (1239578) | about 6 years ago | (#24430937)

Does this also apply to generic cell phones as they are able to store digital data?

Re:Degradation of rights for nothing (2, Informative)

rasmack (808487) | about 6 years ago | (#24431067)

Well, from TFA and the summary, yes. It applies to any electronic device able to store data. If you have devised a sneaky way of encrypting information into the phone book of your cell phone then they are allowed to detain it "for a reasonable period of time".

Better find a new way to remember those passphrases and PIN codes...

Re:Degradation of rights for nothing (1)

mpe (36238) | about 6 years ago | (#24431285)

It applies to any electronic device able to store data. If you have devised a sneaky way of encrypting information into the phone book of your cell phone then they are allowed to detain it "for a reasonable period of time".

Actually you don't have to devise anything. Just for some conspiracy theorist connected with the DHS/TSA/etc to believe that this is possible.

Re:Degradation of rights for nothing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431025)

" ... to give the impression of safety."

No, they really don't.

Re:Degradation of rights for nothing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431137)

Your "for nothing" isn't even hyperbole. Apparently the government thinks terrorists are too stupid to use the internet.

It's called industrial espionage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431199)

You think they don't know that it's no way to fight terrorism?

Re:Degradation of rights for nothing (3, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | about 6 years ago | (#24431239)

You inconvenience and step all over the rights of average, law-abiding citizens to give the impression of safety.

Well...Chaaa! What are you getting at? Look who's on the ballot. Listen what they talk about on the TV. Think anybody gives a damn? Okay, so play their silly game and don't take anything of value across the border. You think I wear my Rolex when I go to get some rock on 63rd and Halsted? Like the corrupt cop, get a throwaway.

Re:Degradation of rights for nothing (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 years ago | (#24431261)

Which is why you NEVER take that stuff past the government sanctioned thugs and criminals we have at the airports.

Ship your laptop via UPS or Fedex to your destination, it's a lot cheaper to spend $125.00US to ship it next day air international than to replace it all when you get there because some DHS scumbag takes a shining to your laptop or wants to punish you because you dared question them.

Honest citizens need to act like international spies.

Re:Degradation of rights for nothing (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 6 years ago | (#24431313)

Honest citizens need to act like international spies.

I would think that most self-respecting international spies would have a cooler way of smuggling their laptops into the country than Fedex ;)

Re:Degradation of rights for nothing (2, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 6 years ago | (#24431297)

Very little is an overstatement of how much they accomplish.

The policies cover 'any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,' including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover 'all papers and other written documentation,' including books, pamphlets and 'written materials commonly referred to as "pocket trash..."'"

We first, of all, that covers ANYTHING. If you can write on it, it can store digital and analog data. I know two friends of mine often use semi-long term markers on their palms because they are so forgetful, does that mean the Department of Homeland Security can take their hands? That regulation is WAY to broad.

That being said, as another user pointed out. If you want to transmit illicit information out of country, there are plenty of ways to get it out without carrying with you. I'm not one to bypass rules and security, but it didn't take me two seconds to figure out how to deal with that, without even trying.

Honestly, if they did catch anyone with this methodology, they would be smart release that person, and pretend not to have found anything, to keep their idiocy and corruption in the enemy genepool. It would be a darwinian favor to their opponents to keep the guy/gal. Also the guy/gal could (would?) inadvertantly lead them to a more productive cull from the enemies genepool. I'm speaking in gemerics with 'enemy' mostly because it's more than just the catch-phrase of terrorist they are searching for, I'm sure.

lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24430897)

gayzilla. I'm going to start keeping thermite self-destruct sequences within my laptops.

Re:lame (1)

devman (1163205) | about 6 years ago | (#24431169)

Yes because that wouldn't promptly get you arrested at the border.

Books? Any written materials? (4, Funny)

thodi (37956) | about 6 years ago | (#24430901)

This is crazy, people. Make sure you're not wearing any clothing with text on it, you might have to enter the USA naked.

Re:Books? Any written materials? (5, Interesting)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 6 years ago | (#24430967)

They also cover 'all papers and other written documentation,'
How the hell does this not violate the "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..." part of the 4th amendment, where is the SCOTUS case that ruled that US citizens upon returning to the US borders do not enjoy the protections of the constitution?

Re:Books? Any written materials? (4, Insightful)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | about 6 years ago | (#24431017)

You have to be *in* the US for your rights to be in effect. Once you're at border security, you're not in the US anymore, so your rights don't apply. At least that's the argument, however dubious.

Re:Books? Any written materials? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431259)

You have to be *in* the US for your rights to be in effect.

No, remarkably, the 4th amendment says that the government cannot seize your papers. Is this the government? Check. Are these your papers? Check.

Let me know when you find the part of the amendment that says "except outside of the US".

Re:Books? Any written materials? (3, Informative)

Bartab (233395) | about 6 years ago | (#24431271)

That is NOT the argument, primarily because border crossings occur on this side of the border.

To quote the fourth circuit court: The border search doctrine is justified by the longstanding right of the sovereign to protect itself.

Re:Books? Any written materials? (1)

Keys1337 (1002612) | about 6 years ago | (#24431279)

You have to be *in* the US for your rights to be in effect. Once you're at border security, you're not in the US anymore, so your rights don't apply. At least that's the argument, however dubious.

I've never heard that one. However, if you are smuggling something and they find it at border security, they are happy to inform you that you absolutely are in the US.

Re:Books? Any written materials? (4, Informative)

Bartab (233395) | about 6 years ago | (#24431185)

unreasonable searches and seizures

Searches at the border are legally reasonable. This has been held for a very very long time.

Since everybody loves Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception [wikipedia.org]

Re:Books? Any written materials? (1)

techiemikey (1126169) | about 6 years ago | (#24431323)

Well, from that Wikipedia article:

Whether a border search is reasonable depends on a judicial analysis that balances the intrusion into an individuals legitimate privacy and dignity interests against the governments legitimate interest in the subject of the search.

To me this seems like it's improperly balanced to the interest in the subject, but what do I know...after all, i'm not a politician.

Re:Books? Any written materials? (3, Funny)

Devir (671031) | about 6 years ago | (#24431007)

you're better off just crossing the borders naked. It leaves "fewer" avenues for them to search and speeds up the lines.

Re:Books? Any written materials? (4, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24431097)

you're better off just crossing the borders naked.

"That's a nice tattoo you got there, sir, but what does it say ? We better send it over to the NSA for decryption. Now step over here, this will hurt only a little ..."

How about my brain? (1)

link-error (143838) | about 6 years ago | (#24431195)

      It also stored information, in some sort of analog form I believe. Of course, gitmo+indefinitely = nothing new.

Wow (2, Interesting)

BluRBD!E (627484) | about 6 years ago | (#24430909)

I feel bad for all the Americans who value their privacy. Unfortunately this has been the case in Australia for a while now. I remember the story of a Journalist/Author (I think) who was sent a copy of a book that contained a lot of classified information. The Australian police (unsure of division) went to her house, took her computer and smashed it in front of her. Lovely world we live in. I feel bad for our children.

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24430953)

Don't pity us. This is for coming into the country. Pity you foreigners who have to come here on business (I assume you're no longer interested in pleasure travel here)

Re:Wow (1)

risinganger (586395) | about 6 years ago | (#24431231)

DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies - which apply to anyone entering the country, including US citizens...

Leave the country on holiday and it applies to you when you come back by the looks of it.

You're right about your assumption though. Since they started all of this bullshit in the pretence of false security I've got no interest in visiting for pleasure, and I won't go on business either.

Re:Wow (1)

Gallenod (84385) | about 6 years ago | (#24430955)

Why do I suddenly see an image of Vogons clubbing a laptop?

Two questions:

1. How did they know she had it?

2. Did they realize that just "smashing the computer" would not necessarily prevent recovery of the data?

Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24430923)

They seized the comment section

Terrorism, Thy Name Is... (1)

Gallenod (84385) | about 6 years ago | (#24430925)

Big Brother. Only this time he's not just taking your stuff to play games on it.

(Or maybe the are. DHS doesn't allow any games on their desktops. Maybe this just lets them play Minesweeper for a while.)

What happened to needing "probable cause" as a justification for a search?

Re:Terrorism, Thy Name Is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431295)

While the content of this article is quite disturbing, the reality is it's not that painful. I've entered the country twice in the past month -- both times, my laptop was taken (for 1 minute). They did a quick check for explosives and handed it right back to me (without even turning it on).

The extent of agents privileges may extend well beyond, but the individuals conducting the searches are normal, everyday Americans (who find the security job to be a bit better than the fast food industry).

Their law versus ours (5, Insightful)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | about 6 years ago | (#24430939)

Just because their little law says they can do it doesn't mean it doesn't run afoul of the Contitutional protections. Were this to be challenged, it would be killed pretty quickly: one cannot instigate such as this in the name of "terrorism" and not expect at least one challenge on "unreasonable search and seizure." You cannot fight global terrorism by turning the USA into a police-state. All that accomplishes is angering the populace....and you remember the last time Americans became angry with their government?...

Re:Their law versus ours (2, Insightful)

Oh no, it's Dixie (1332795) | about 6 years ago | (#24431023)

I agree that this runs directly counter to the Constitution. Two problems with trying to assert your Constitutional rights through the courts, though: would you be able to find a court that wouldn't immediately dismiss it, and could you build a good enough case if all your evidence is stolen from you by the government?

Re:Their law versus ours (5, Insightful)

Erie Ed (1254426) | about 6 years ago | (#24431031)

I bet over 2/3 of americans either a. don't know that this is going on or b. don't care. Even if people actually gave a damn we tend to not take any action.

Re:Their law versus ours (4, Insightful)

soast (690658) | about 6 years ago | (#24431255)

The problem is the government has brainwashed the people. They want you to fear them by intimidating you with time in prison or financially. Most people think in the way 'if i goto prison i will lose my job and cant get another because i have a blemish on my record' that reason alone will stop 99% of the people for standing up to it. The other reason is who has the resources to fight it, rich people do but rich people have no worries.

Re:Their law versus ours (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431043)

and you remember the last time Americans became angry with their government?...

They were beaten with clubs, battons and shot with riot rounds?

 

Re:Their law versus ours (0, Troll)

Bartab (233395) | about 6 years ago | (#24431047)

Were this to be challenged, it would be killed pretty quickly:

Ahh, the idle dreams of the hippy dippy love children.

This meets all the criteria under the fourth.

Re:Their law versus ours (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 6 years ago | (#24431317)

No, it does not. There HAS to be probable cause first, unless one has a court order (search warrant) for each and every specific instance.

Otherwise, what we have is unreasonable search and siezure. I don't know which constitution you have been reading but the one in my country is The Constitution of The united States of America.

Re:Their law versus ours (1)

Loibisch (964797) | about 6 years ago | (#24431069)

No, actually I don't...

Re:Their law versus ours (3, Insightful)

niiler (716140) | about 6 years ago | (#24431085)

One would think that this goes against unreasonable search and seizure. The problem is that if you object to it, you need to have your device seized to have standing to bring it to trial. Then you need beaucoup bucks in order to see it through. If you consider the motivations that led to the unreasonable search and seizure protections vis-a-vis one's home, it seems that some of them may have been to protect one's personal papers and property. This rule is a blatant end-run around such Constitutional protections in letter and spirit. Because almost everyone now carries a large part of their life with them via cell-phone, laptop, or PDA, I would argue that taking such items is akin to the sort of disruption (financially and otherwise) that people would experience from home invasion by authorities. In many ways this can be even worse.

Re:Their law versus ours (1)

Frigga's Ring (1044024) | about 6 years ago | (#24431105)

From TFA: In April, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld the government's power to conduct searches of an international traveler's laptop without suspicion of wrongdoing.

Re:Their law versus ours (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431173)

Obviously you haven't talked with any TSA people. I worked at an airport as an IT tech. These people consider themselves gods.

They once banned one of our IT people from the airport (he had to work out of the corp office instead of working on his section of the airport) because he took two steps back to pick up his repair tools. It was a one way walk way, and since he took two steps back to pick up his tools he was in violation of going the wrong way. Yes, he had his badge on.

Low wage + high power = disgruntled.

They will act on this, because they can.

Re:Their law versus ours (0, Troll)

klines (1145941) | about 6 years ago | (#24431213)

All that accomplishes is angering the populace....and you remember the last time Americans became angry with their government?...

You mean that time all the kids cried on Digg? Yeah, I remember that...

yes, except (5, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | about 6 years ago | (#24431229)

The fact that this kind of rule may be unconstitutional means exactly nothing unless you can convince the judicial branch to rule it so, the executive branch to respect that ruling, and the legislative branch to bitchslap the executive if/when it refuses to behave.

There's at least two items in the list that I won't be holding my breath for.

Re:Their law versus ours (2, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | about 6 years ago | (#24431253)

The Supreme Court's already said that at the border the border patrol can search whatever they want, without any requirement of reasonable suspicion. Hopefully the SCOTUS changes it mind and puts in at least some reasonable suspicion requirement (or at least the minimal "articulable suspicion" test they made for Terry v. Ohio), but at the moment its legal under current caselaw.

Other reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24430943)

Gee, I wonder what other reasons those could be.

"AW DAMNIT, MY NEW LAPTOP GOT A VIRUS WHEN I WAS LOOKING UP PORN AGAIN"
"Don't worry about it, we have plenty of others lying around" YOINK

Sorry for the Godwin Violation (5, Interesting)

mlwmohawk (801821) | about 6 years ago | (#24430945)

But...

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have to at least consider that it is a bird of the family anatidae (apologies to Douglas Adams)

This is outrageous! and a 4th amendment violation.

Hitler may have lost WWII, but the forces of fascism and totalitarianism are still fighting the war and are winning.

Re:Sorry for the Godwin Violation (2, Insightful)

SirShmoopie (1333857) | about 6 years ago | (#24431091)

This will pretty much kill conferences from organisations with members outside of the US, especially ones where proprietary information is carried around.

Not to mention damage international business.
Seriously, what on earth is going on ? Are these people divorced from reality?

Re:Sorry for the Godwin Violation (0)

Geirzinho (1068316) | about 6 years ago | (#24431221)

This is outrageous! and a 4th amendment violation.

The constitution doesn't apply until you get past the customs officer. And even then only to US citizens.

Is this where we are going ? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24430947)

Seriously, is this the kind of country we want to live in ?
"Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing"
Warrantless wiretapping, and this ? what's next ? the right for the government to install Video cameras inside of our homes to fight terrorism ?
where does this ends ?

Re:Is this where we are going ? (1)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | about 6 years ago | (#24431175)

The funny thing is that it won't help anything. The thing about computers is that you can use this neat thing called the "Internet" to transfer data internationally at any time.

If I'm a terrorist who wants to bring data into the US, I'll encrypt it and put it on a web site somewhere, go to the US sans computer, and download it when I get there. Don't like web sites? Substitude SSH tunnels, VPN, whatever back to country of origin and you have a nice, easily available way to bring data into the country. I'm not sure why they believe terrorists and other ne'er-do-wells won't think of that.

Ah, Penny Arcade predicted this. (5, Funny)

WDot (1286728) | about 6 years ago | (#24430957)

http://www.penny-arcade.com/images/2007/20070125.jpg [penny-arcade.com]

I thought it was funny the first time I read it, it's scary that it may be more true now. )=

Everything to protect human rights (2, Insightful)

Swizec (978239) | about 6 years ago | (#24430959)

Right America? RIGHT?!

And you attack dictatorships to spread freedom ... *eyeroll*

DHS IT (5, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | about 6 years ago | (#24430971)

BOFH from DHS : I have an excellent way to reduce our IT spending...

I can only think of two words (5, Insightful)

LoadWB (592248) | about 6 years ago | (#24430975)

Normally I would put together a verbose, and perhaps even eloquent, response to such information. But I can only think of two words.

Bull shit.

We are losing, people. We are losing our rights and there will be more to come. That our own personal property can be seized "to fight terrorism" on the terms presented is absolute, unadulterated, pure and uncut bull shit.

Re:I can only think of two words (3, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 6 years ago | (#24431019)

Well, they've found a way to expand & mutate the "War on Drugs" mentality to cover everyone. Not so fun when it affects you, is it?

Re:I can only think of two words (1)

LoadWB (592248) | about 6 years ago | (#24431235)

It really does not matter. If the reason for seizing my personal property indefinitely without reasonable suspicion was the "war on drugs," the "war on terror," or the "war on sweaty ass cracks," my reasoning still stands.

Re:I can only think of two words (4, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 6 years ago | (#24431057)

Well, you're being nice. The two words that popped into my mind were:

FASCIST PIGFUCKERS.

Run while you can. If you think Obama's gonna make it all better, you're nuts. The whole imperial mess is rolling into a death spiral. Run while you can.

RS

Simple (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24430979)

Don't give them any thing if you are citizen.

When the try to take it from you, you are gonna have a fourth amendment field day with those asshats.

Just like airline searches and wire taps (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24430981)

If you're not doing anything wrong I don't see the problem

Re:Just like airline searches and wire taps (1)

martin_henry (1032656) | about 6 years ago | (#24431301)

If you're not doing anything wrong I don't see the problem

That is not the issue. I think what upsets Americans most about these sort of new laws (patriot act anyone? no thanks) is that they are borderline treasonous when compared to our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

In this case, making parts of airports and border checkpoints not part of the USA is just plain underhanded & deplorable.

Re:Just like airline searches and wire taps (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431307)

and when they come for you, who will speak out? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came [wikipedia.org] ...

Why not go all out (1)

Harley82 (1036278) | about 6 years ago | (#24430987)

" Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption, or other reasons"

Why not jut go all out and say, "We have the right to seize any of you possesions, for no reason and share them with anyone we feel like and there is nothing you can do about it"

I don't feel any safer, does anyone else?

Absolutely reasonable... (4, Interesting)

Slashidiot (1179447) | about 6 years ago | (#24430991)

DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies -- which apply to anyone entering the country, including US citizens -- are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism...

My god. I can understand that they think those policies are necessary, but nobody can believe that is reasonable.

"We can take everything you own and keep it as long as we want. Only if we feel like it. We think this is a reasonable exchange, you get to enter the country, we get to steal your stuff"

Someone should do this (1)

pandronic (1275276) | about 6 years ago | (#24430999)

I wonder what would happen if you would buy the cheapest laptop you can find on ebay a put a file on the desktop called "Super secret terorist plans.txt" and write "Fuck you" inside.

Re:Someone should do this (2, Insightful)

Loibisch (964797) | about 6 years ago | (#24431087)

Instant access to Guantanamo v2 :D

Re:Someone should do this (1)

Takumi2501 (728347) | about 6 years ago | (#24431311)

According to Murphy's Law, they wouldn't even bother to look at the laptop.

Would be pretty funny if they did, though.

Kleptocracy, anyone ? (4, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24431005)

"Yeah, you'll get your stuff back in, uh, fourty years. Sorry, rules are rules. And only if it doesn't get lost or misplaced until then."

And when are they going to start confiscating pacemakers and hearing aids ? Last I've heard, these things can also store information in digital form.

Land of the Free (3, Insightful)

Yeti.SSM (869826) | about 6 years ago | (#24431029)

"Welcome to the Land of the Free. We're now going to free you of your laptop, cellphone, ..."

Toilet paper... (5, Interesting)

jrister (922621) | about 6 years ago | (#24431033)

Its nice that government agencies regard the Constitution as toilet paper.

What they fail to realize is that all their power originates with that document, and in a way, it's like a contract between the government and the people. Since the government has decided to violate the terms (breach of contract), then maybe we should stop recognizing their authority, since they have chosen to invalidate that document that is the sole source of that authority?

I'd rather have freedom than "security" (5, Insightful)

Shinary (971947) | about 6 years ago | (#24431051)

You know, as an American I can say that I would gladly give up my "right" to security for this crap to just go away. Let the people protect themselves from the invisible enemy and force the government to focus on problems that really matter. Like the country's growing illiteracy rate, or the growing rate of obesity, or hey... how about the economy going to shit. Oh I forgot, we need those fat and stupid people working for the DHS at airports and other "high security" areas. They need jobs too. Homeland Security was just another huge mistake by the Bush administration that I hope will be corrected at some point in the near future. I love my country and all, but if the United States keeps following down this road, I am gone.

Distressing quote from the article (5, Interesting)

honkycat (249849) | about 6 years ago | (#24431055)

Customs Deputy Commissioner Jayson P. Ahern said the efforts "do not infringe on Americans' privacy." In a statement submitted to Feingold for a June hearing on the issue, he noted that the executive branch has long had "plenary authority to conduct routine searches and seizures at the border without probable cause or a warrant" to prevent drugs and other contraband from entering the country.

Perhaps it's just a poor characterization of his statements, but it appears that Mr. Ahern just doesn't get it. Regardless of what authority the executive branch has had, he needs a pretty damn strong argument as to why these efforts don't infringe on "Americans'" privacy. I can't think of any reasonable argument that they do not. Whether it's a *justified* infringement is a somewhat subtler question, but these powers are certainly subject to abuse. Further, even the obscenely few restrictions on preserving the data after the investigation is completed are little consolation in the face of the many stories of data mishandling by government entities. Mr. Ahern desperately needs to get a clue.

Further, even as an American I take exception to the idea that it's only relevant for our government to protect "Americans'" privacy, as is implied by this quote. Again, it might be due to incomplete quoting, but I somehow doubt that. As a scientist who frequently works with international collaborators, it's really true that communities outside the U.S. are deciding to keep their business out of this country due to the ridiculous policies for entering. It's often just not worth the effort. Way to go, Executive Branch!!

Constitutional? (3, Informative)

uberdave (526529) | about 6 years ago | (#24431063)

I thought that you had the right to be secure in your papers and personal effects. Fourth ammendment, google tells me. I hope this raises a big enough stink to become an election issue. The DHS needs to be reigned in something fierce.

Analog form? (4, Informative)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 6 years ago | (#24431079)

That includes BRAINS!

Any device capable of storing information... (5, Funny)

Valtor (34080) | about 6 years ago | (#24431083)

The policies cover 'any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form

My brain is a device that can record patterns in an analog form. If they want it, they'll have to get it over my dead body ;-)

Industrial Espionage... (5, Insightful)

TomRK1089 (1270906) | about 6 years ago | (#24431093)

What if your laptop contains trade secrets or the like? Wouldn't that constitute industrial espionage to decrypt said information? What if a DHS employee has a relative who competes in that field? I can only imagine the potential messes there.

Re:Industrial Espionage... (5, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24431135)

What if your laptop contains trade secrets or the like?

Too bad.

Wouldn't that constitute industrial espionage to decrypt said information?

It's only illegal if you're not the government.

What if a DHS employee has a relative who competes in that field?

Good for him !

I can only imagine the potential messes there.

You misspelled "opportunities".

Think of the children! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431101)

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff wrote in an opinion piece published last month in USA Today that "Searches have uncovered violent jihadist materials as well as images of child pornography."
Ah, the magic words!

I reckon you could even implement gun control in the US, if you reported that peados were using guns!

AHHH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431111)

Well, how do we know people didn't sneak 3.1+ oz of fluid into a secret laptop container?
Yeah, think about that one before you criticize this strategery.

Anonymous Coward. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431115)

These policies are playing into the hand of terrorists, they want to disrupt your economy, and that's what DHS are doing.

If America is so paranoid about this why don't they just close their borders to everyone.

where does this go? (-1)

Lilo-x (93462) | about 6 years ago | (#24431147)

next they will be confiscating small arms, explosives and class a drugs from people entering the country (these policies may currently in effect it has been may years since I have entered the USA legally)

Hypocritical Policy (3, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | about 6 years ago | (#24431163)

FTA: "When a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information, any copies of the data must be destroyed." If there is no probable cause in the first place, then how can they collect the information in the first place?

A little more context... (4, Informative)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | about 6 years ago | (#24431167)

The US government - and just about any government - has always retained the right to inspect anything entering its borders - citizenship notwithstanding. This is NOTHING new. It simply applies to laptops, now. It hasn't been a privacy issue for 200+ years, and NOW we're concerned about it.

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just trying to provide a little context. If you're going to complain about it, at least acknowledge a little bit of history here.

As if anyone would move data on a laptop... (4, Insightful)

rasmack (808487) | about 6 years ago | (#24431179)

I cannot think of a single example where I would want to move sensitive data on a laptop. I may live in a sheltered world but in that world we live in the era of the Internet. If for some reason I wanted to transfer sensitive data across any border, I would think ssh would provide superior security.

Actually I can in a few minutes push quite a lot of encrypted data to four different countries. If I were physically where I wanted the data it would be even easier.

I guess this is just another example of reductions in privacy that solve no problems what so ever...

Armed Robbery (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 6 years ago | (#24431181)

Just because the state says it's legal, doesn't make it moral. This, and asset forfeiture laws, are nothing more than a tyrannical attempt to legalize armed robbery committed by government employees. A federal agent who seizes a laptop without sufficient probable cause is no less of a criminal in a moral sense than a thug who steals it from a coffeeshop while you work or from your house. Furthermore, I'm not a betting man, but I'd bet good money that this [theagitator.com] will happen to many of the laptops stolen. Everyone who has paid attention to the state of federal law enforcement knows that increasingly, the feds just don't give a damn what the law says, like how the FBI has a serious culture of just breaking [codemonkeyramblings.com] the law WRT national security letters, even after the AG has filed reports to Congress that should have shamed them into compliance.

Obtain laptops cheap! (4, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 6 years ago | (#24431197)

Sounds like a good way for DHS officials to get laptops, iPods, etc real cheap.

Step 1: Find someone with a laptop, iPod, etc that you'd like to have.
Step 2: Take it in the name of National Security.
Step 3: Item "gets lost" and you have a new gadget.

This is especially useful during the holidays. DHS officials can shop on the job. "Hey Frank, didn't you say your kid wanted one of those new iPods? Well look at this guy walking up now."

I wonder what, if any, protections are in place to keep this from being abused. (Any more than giving someone the power to confiscate any item of yours for little to no reason and keep it indefinitely is an abuse of power from the start.)

Back in Europe (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431211)

Back in Europe when strikingly similar measures were in place we used to call the implementers ``fucking Nazis``, then ``fucking Communists`` and we would often risk our life to escape and be able to live at the land of freedom, in the USA.
Then we thought the Nazis were gone and then the Communists lost too... But have they?
   

Violent jihadists materials (2, Insightful)

andy1307 (656570) | about 6 years ago | (#24431215)

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff wrote in an opinion piece published last month in USA Today that "the most dangerous contraband is often contained in laptop computers or other electronic devices." Searches have uncovered "violent jihadist materials" as well as images of child pornography, he wrote.

Isn't violent jihadists material more likely to be transmitted over the internets?

HR6702 (2, Informative)

Oh no, it's Dixie (1332795) | about 6 years ago | (#24431223)

H.R.6702: To impose requirements with regard to border searches of digital electronic devices and digital storage media, and for other purposes.

Although the text hasn't been sent to the Library of Congress, HR6702 seems to be the kind of bill that would limit the power of the DHS to conduct unreasonable searches. Read the text of the bill in a few days when it becomes available, and write to your representative, etc etc. It's a shame it only has one co-sponsor.

Re:HR6702 (1)

kibbey (96367) | about 6 years ago | (#24431291)

ok, time to order up a few hundred of those cheap laptops and load them up with some nice and interesting self propogating programs (viri). Then have a few friends spend a weekend hoping across the border with them.

Its a crock of shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431233)

Any determined terrorist would simply encrypt their data using publicly available cryptology software or simply buy a laptop or memory stick that does on-the-fly hardware encryption. This is a significant step by the government in the erosion of civil liberties.

Organized Protests (4, Funny)

Ratbert42 (452340) | about 6 years ago | (#24431245)

What we really need is a new Linux distro that's just Rickrolls, goatse and 2 Girls One Cup. "Wait, officer! Don't forget these DVDs here."

The US has gone mental (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24431265)

My oh my

I always wanted to see America. Spend some time in a few big cities, see what the beaches are like, have a good time.

But I changed that idea a few years back, when they started trampling all over your privacy in all the little ways. There is NO WAY IN HELL I'm visiting America if I'm treated like a criminal/my privacy is being violated at will.

What I was afraid of has happened, it only got worse. Seems like they're just importing Guantanamo rules to the mainland or something.

How on earth is it possible that you Americans don't rise up against that? Protest? Get on the streets? Call out for a mass protest and let your voice be heard damned. They're getting away with it because nobody does anything about it!

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1 (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about 6 years ago | (#24431269)

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.

This is why (3, Funny)

Sir_Real (179104) | about 6 years ago | (#24431289)

I carry a 500gb passport of random useless data and encrypt it.

That should keep someone busy for a few weeks.

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