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FISA and Border Searches of Laptops

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the not-giving-up-my-keys-no-sir dept.

Privacy 421

With the recent attention to the DHS's draconian policy on laptop searches at borders, a blog post by Steven Bellovin from last month is worth wider discussion. Bellovin extrapolates from the DHS border policy on physical electronic devices and asks why authorities wouldn't push to extend it to electronic data transfers. "...it would seem to make little difference if the information is 'imported' into the US via a physical laptop or via a VPN, or for that matter by a Web connection. The right to search a laptop for information, then, is equivalent to the right to tap any and all international connections, without a warrant or probable cause. (More precisely, one always has a constitutional protection against 'unreasonable' search and seizure; the issue is what the definition of 'unreasonable' is.)"

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Old school (4, Funny)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478327)

I have a teletype connected to a tin can that crosses the border with a long peice of twine, connected to another tin can connected to a modem.

Re:Old school (5, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478447)

I have a teletype connected to a tin can that crosses the border with a long peice of twine, connected to another tin can connected to a modem.

That seems to fit the "definition of unreasonable" quite nicely.

Re:Old school (4, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478537)

"Little Frog Legs" and I use smoke signals. Peace, man!

Re:Old school (5, Interesting)

xalorous (883991) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478807)

My laptop has a sticker on it that says "Property of Exxon-Mobil" and a bar code that looks very official. It has never been searched at the border.

Look on the bright side... (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478329)

About 5 months of this nonsense left at the time of this post, and all these wacky rules can be repealed after that, thank goodness:

http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/blbushclock.htm [about.com]

You wish... (5, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478371)

Much as I agree that there will probably be a change in course, rights, once take away, are very slow to return. I can foresee that a new president keen to lose his 'inexperienced' image would be reluctant to take that strong a stand against the powers that be at Langley, etc.

Re:You wish... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478475)

Much as I agree that there will probably be a change in course, rights, once take away, are very slow to return. I can foresee that a new president keen to lose his 'inexperienced' image would be reluctant to take that strong a stand against the powers that be at Langley, etc.

Except that you've NEVER had any rights when it comes to custom's searches.

Sorry, you can't blame this one on Bush. As much as you'd like to.

Re:You wish... (5, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478547)

Sorry, you can't blame this one on Bush. As much as you'd like to.

But the indefinite detainment we are now subject to we can blame on Bush, or more appropriately, the people that voted for him. Before all the hysteria, it I was clean, they had to let me go. Not any more. Pretty soon they'll be able to hold me for not having a laptop for them to search. They'll think I'm hiding something. That's like being told I should carry some cash on me so the mugger has something to walk away with, otherwise he'll get pissed and just shoot me. Every border crossing is turning into a mugging.

Re:You wish... (1, Interesting)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#24479055)

Pretty soon they'll be able to hold me for not having a laptop for them to search. They'll think I'm hiding something. That's like being told I should carry some cash on me so the mugger has something to walk away with, otherwise he'll get pissed and just shoot me. Every border crossing is turning into a mugging.

Wow. First to see that in a post that isn't clearly a troll, and then to see it modded +5? Slashdot's really turning into Digg.

Frankly, your post is one of the most absurd ones I've ever seen on Slashdot.

Re:You wish... (1, Flamebait)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478833)

"rights, once take away, are very slow to return"

What the poster states is true, in spite of your trying to redirect the discussion back with

"Except that you've NEVER had any rights when it comes to custom's searches"

Thanks for trying to apologize for the last 7+ years, you and all the idiots that voted for the fool will never wash that from your hands.

Good ending, though:
"Sorry, you can't blame this one on Bush. As much as you'd like to."

He wasn't blaming anything on Bush, but your paranoid interpretation and purported ability to read minds is sure characteristic of the sick f**ks that continue to cover for the worst president ever.

Re:You wish... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478491)

In general, you're absolutely right about the problem of getting rights back once forfeited.

However, I suspect that if the US did permit arbitrary low level staffers to intercept and redistribute any information crossing the border that they wanted to, that permission would be revoked fairly quickly as the rest of the world started rerouting the Internet to guarantee not going via the US.

Of course, it would never come to that. Businesses and public figures concerned about the dangers to themselves of sensitive information leaking would lobby their governments, who in turn would make their feelings known to the US, who would make loud and significant-sounding noises about the importance of national security and the terrorist threat, but who would then quietly reverse the position.

I imagine when the abuses of the current situation with physical devices start, things will go much the same way anyway, but the US is already regarded as a threat to data security by many European businesses (which have things like European data protection legislation constraining them) and any further steps are likely to hasten the proceedings.

Re:You wish... (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478613)

Much as I agree that there will probably be a change in course, rights, once take away, are very slow to return. I can foresee that a new president keen to lose his 'inexperienced' image would be reluctant to take that strong a stand against the powers that be at Langley, etc.

Plus he wouldn't want to go the way of JFK if you know what I mean.

Re:Look on the bright side... (2, Interesting)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478421)

Interesting point. While this administration seems focussed on taking away our "rights", the next administration (assuming Obama wins) will probably be more interested in taking away our "treasure". Sadly, as another poster mentioned, "rights", once lost, are restored very slowly, if ever. Likewise, taxes rarely disappear once they are put in place. Choose your poison.

Re:Look on the bright side... (4, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478501)

the best taxes are the ones that are labelled 'temporary', those are most certain to never disappear.

Re:Look on the bright side... (5, Insightful)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478515)

"he next administration (assuming Obama wins) will probably be more interested in taking away our "treasure"."

Actually I hate to be the one to break it to you but your treasure is already gone. what is likely to happen is your going to get the bill for it by the next president.

Re:Look on the bright side... (5, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478695)

Yes and the other party will not stop pointing out how the Democrats increased taxes (to pay for it all) and people will buy into it electing Republican again in 4 years who then will continue to rape your rights and take your money. (Democrats and Republicans can be easily changed above)

As long as people do not start voting for an alternative, there will be no alternative. If you say that voting for an alternative will not work, please repair your democratic system before you try to export it.

Re:Look on the bright side... (5, Insightful)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478741)

your laptop contains copywrite material, that you probably don't own. under us law you need the copywrite owner's permission to copy this. the border agent is violating copywrite law when he/she images your drive. if you have a login then that counts as a copywrite protection device, and that means a dmca violation as well. i'm surprised nobody has taken this to court yet.

Re:Look on the bright side... (2, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478823)

if you have a login then that counts as a copywrite protection device, and that means a dmca violation as well.

You haven't been reading the other /. articles today, have you ?

Re:Look on the bright side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478607)

While this administration seems focussed on taking away our "rights", the next administration (assuming Obama wins) will probably be more interested in taking away our "treasure".

Not taking away my treasure. More like taking away the treasure of those who have taken the treasure from others thanks to the policies of the Bush Administration. While most of the country has been suffering, a very few have been profiting immensely. Wouldn't kill them to give some back.

Bush took away our "treasure" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478685)

the next administration (assuming Obama wins) will probably be more interested in taking away our "treasure".

It's Bush that has taken away our "treasure", by spending upwards of $500bn on a useless war. We will be paying for that for decades to come.

If you look over the last 50 years, it's clear: Republicans are bad for the economy and are fiscally irresponsible.

If you want fiscally responsible policies, vote Democrat.

Re:Look on the bright side... (1)

malaprohibita (924587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24479015)

People will always be more important than money. I really think it boils down to that.

Re:Look on the bright side... (2, Informative)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478483)

This won't stop anytime soon. The reason the law got enacted was because someone with kiddy pics got stopped at customs.

I see the latest update in this is that your mobile devices can seized.

http://www.wmexperts.com/featured/can_customs_seize_your_windows.html [wmexperts.com]

Re:Look on the bright side... (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478667)

About 5 months of this nonsense left at the time of this post, and all these wacky rules can be repealed after that, thank goodness:

http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/blbushclock.htm [about.com]

You do realize that most of these rules are at most rewordings and formalizations of what was already policy in 2000?

Re:Look on the bright side... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478861)

if you think that the enxt administration will repeal anything when he get's into office then you are blind.

Both sides recently have proven that they plan on not doing anything to change the current direction.

Re:Look on the bright side... (5, Informative)

limaxray (1292094) | more than 6 years ago | (#24479013)

You're kidding yourself if you seriously think Obama or McCain are going to so much as lift a finger to change this. Both of them believe in rule by the government, for the government. Why the hell would they want to fight to gain the powers of the US president only to give them up to the people?

Plus I assume you are referring to Obama, but lets not forget he voted for FISA. We as a people need to figure it out that charismatic != honest and to take whatever either candidate says with a very large grain of salt. Remember, they only care about your vote and will gladly promise you the moon to get it. You'd think we would have learned this with President Bush II promising us a classical conservative utopia yet delivering a neo-conservative hell, but I guess we're all a little slow on the uptake.

Frosty Pornstar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478331)

Frozen in a tank of liquid nitrogen, awaiting revival when the technology becomes available. If it ever does...

constitution...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478341)

"one always has a constitutional protection against 'unreasonable' search and seizure"

I doubt that if you're not an American citizen.

Re:constitution...? (4, Informative)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478443)

The Constitution applies to any individual on U.S. soil, not just citizens.

Although, for purposes of border control, almost any search is considered lawful.

Re:constitution...? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478775)

Obviously this "Constitution" is just another tool of T E R R O R I S M !

Re:constitution...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478567)

I doubt that if you're not an American citizen.

Customs doesn't care if you're an American citizen or not. They'll be enjoying your shiny MacBook long after you've crossed the border.

Re:constitution...? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478731)

"one always has a constitutional protection against 'unreasonable' search and seizure"
I doubt that if you're not an American citizen.

As someone whose 4th amendment rights have been violated twice, I can say that It's true whether or not you're an American citizen. Park in front of the wrong house and your car will be searched. If the cops want a look around your garage, they'll go on in.

Re:constitution...? (1, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478899)

this is part of the reason you should all be pro gun. an armed society is a polite society. if the cops thought there might be someone with a gun on the otherside of the garage door, they wouldn't be just strolling in to take a look, they'd be thinking twice and only go in if it's REALLY worth it.

Blatant industrial espionage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478363)

With the reputation down the drain, why pay spies when you can just confiscate laptops?

WWJTWU (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478365)

What Would Jesus Think Was Unreasonable?

Re:WWJTWU (4, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478427)

What Would Jesus Think Was Unreasonable?

"And if they take your laptop, give them your digital camera, iPod and cellphone, too." (Mt 5,40, paraphrased)

Re:WWJTWU (5, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478627)

the issue is what the definition of 'unreasonable' is

With this Administration's tortured definition of torture, one shouldn't be surprised when they have an unreasonable definition of unreasonable.

Re:WWJTWU (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478439)

What Would Jesus Think Was Unreasonable?

Purely a guess: getting nailed to a log just for suggesting that people should try to be a little bit nicer to each other.

Re:WWJTWU (0, Offtopic)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478477)

What Would Jesus Think Was Unreasonable?

Purely a guess: getting nailed to a log just for suggesting that people should try to be a little bit nicer to each other.

Oh yeah, and claiming to be the bastard child of a peasant woman and the supreme deity of a large chunk of the population.

Re:WWJTWU (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478573)

How odd; tha grandparen troll is unmodded, the guy who says "getting nailed to a log just for suggesting that people should try to be a little bit nicer to each other" gets modded offtopic? THE WHOLE THREAD IS OFFTOPIC!!

I'll tell you what Jesus would say - when he was asked if you should pay tribute to Ceasar, he asked whose picture was on the coin. He would say "unreasonable" means what the Supreme Court says it means. Man's laws are no concern of his, he has bigger fish to fry.

AFAIK the bible doesn't say anything about privacy or your rights. So the very question is moot. But the whole Bush administration has been pretty unreasonable if you ask me.

Re:WWJTWU (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478621)

Man's laws are no concern of his, he has bigger fish to fry.

      Yes you tell yourself that man's laws are meaningless compared to an imaginary "heaven" when the lion is chewing on your leg.

Re:WWJTWU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478885)

What is the point you are trying to make? Man's laws *are* meaningless when a lion is chewing on your leg. You don't need a comparative judgement for that.

Re:WWJTWU (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478913)

What Would Jesus Think Was Unreasonable?

Purely a guess: getting nailed to a log just for suggesting that people should try to be a little bit nicer to each other.

Oh yeah, and claiming to be the bastard child of a peasant woman and the supreme deity of a large chunk of the population.

Jesus never claimed to be God, but he let others do it and let them know he agreed.

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ.[b]" ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=48&chapter=8&version=31 [biblegateway.com] )

Re:WWJTWU (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#24479061)

What Would Jesus Think Was Unreasonable?

Purely a guess: getting nailed to a log just for suggesting that people should try to be a little bit nicer to each other.

Oh yeah, and claiming to be the bastard child of a peasant woman and the supreme deity of a large chunk of the population.

Quite possibly -- he never claimed that, as far as we can tell (others did, later). He does seem to have taken a line of playing the government's game but subverting it (rather than directly opposing it). There's a history of subverting such rules, such as the way PGP got around encryption export regulations by giving the option of the US-produced encryption engine or the compatible scandinavian-produced encryption engine, so that one never had to take the technology across the US border. I can easily see an increase in use of encryption as people become more aware of the issue of the possibility of data interception by governments en-route. Or maybe not -- industial espionage is hardly new (http://www.iht.com/articles/1991/09/14/spy_.php [iht.com] ) but I suspect many organisations are still lax.

Re:WWJTWU (2, Interesting)

adpsimpson (956630) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478599)

Offtopic? Seems pretty ontopic to me - he was, after all, the supreme political dissenter during one of the most brutally oppressive periods of history. And used words like "neighbour" and "friend" about brown, white and black folk all equally.

Re:WWJTWU (2, Interesting)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478747)

Seems pretty ontopic to me - he was, after all, the supreme political dissenter during one of the most brutally oppressive periods of history.

Oh, come on. The Romans weren't angels, but there have been lots of worse oppression than what you got under the Empire of Tiberius. Even Caligula's terrors were inflicted on the aristocracy in Rome; he didn't wreak all that much havoc on the average citizen in the provinces. You want to know what Pontius Pilate's only entry in actual history is? He took down the Imperial regalia from the Jerusalem temple when the Jewish leadership informed him how offensive it was. The Jerusalem population didn't even have to stage a protest. Granted, things in Judea got a lot nastier a few decades down the road.

Re:WWJTWU (1)

djbckr (673156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478993)

Actually, the parent should be modded insightful. Even if you think the story of Jesus is ridiculous, the message (being nice to one another) cannot be refuted.

Re:WWJTWU (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478829)

If Jesus was here today, I know EXACTLY what he would do.

He would scream "Metal carts, pulled by unseen demonic horses! Iron mountains!" in Aramaic, then go hide somewhere.

Wrongthought (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478381)

My interpretation of TFA (and not necessarily the policy/practice) is that the Government reserves the right to decide which information can cross the border into the US, whether by electronic or physical means. Presumably, this would include subversive and seditious materials, i.e., those that strongly challenged the administration.

Re:Wrongthought (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478393)

My interpretation of TFA (and not necessarily the policy/practice) is that the Government reserves the right to decide which information can cross the border into the US, whether by electronic or physical means. Presumably, this would include subversive and seditious materials, i.e., those that strongly challenged the administration.

And the land of the free begat the great firewall of America?

Save the Children: Watch out for the terrorists. (5, Insightful)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478533)

From here [cnet.com] : At a Senate hearing in June, Larry Cunningham, a New York prosecutor who is now a law professor, defended laptop searches--but not necessarily seizures--as perfectly permissible. Preventing customs agents from searching laptops "would open a vulnerability in our border by providing criminals and terrorists with a means to smuggle child pornography or other dangerous and illegal computer files into the country," Cunningham said.

In our (as a country) fear of Terrorism and our fear for the safety of our children, we are slowly strangling ourselves of our vitality. Soon, we as a country will be like scared little children hiding under our beds from a thunderstorm. And in the meantime, the rest of the World will eventually pass us by.

Re:Save the Children: Watch out for the terrorists (3, Insightful)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478675)

From here [cnet.com] : At a Senate hearing in June, Larry Cunningham, a New York prosecutor who is now a law professor, defended laptop searches--but not necessarily seizures--as perfectly permissible. Preventing customs agents from searching laptops "would open a vulnerability in our border by providing criminals and terrorists with a means to smuggle child pornography or other dangerous and illegal computer files into the country," Cunningham said.

What I want to know is who exactly "smuggles" child pornography around on a laptop. They may have it on their laptop, but they're not "smuggling" it into the country. They more than likely downloaded it from someplace that's already accessible to anyone in the country anyway.

You may be able to prosecute them for it, but it's not going to save any children. Anyone that wants it will just hide it better, and you'll end up arresting people that have a suspect image or three in their browser cache that they've probably never even seen. This is just more bullshit fear-mongering to further strip us of our liberties.

The gov agrees. (4, Insightful)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478399)

The government agrees that they should have the right to investigate each and every connection that goes in or out of the United States, no warrant required. It's impractical to actually watch every connection in real time, or to store them all, but they certainly believe they should have the option to investigate whichever connections they choose at a whim.

Re:The gov agrees. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478473)

It's impractical to actually watch every connection in real time, or to store them all

...yet.

Re:The gov agrees. (4, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478769)

Mod parent up. Only 2 years ago it was impractical to sniff all traffic and identify P2P and insert reset packets. It was unreasonable to record all phone conversations. It was unreasonable to have thousands of cameras around the UK monitoring everything. It was unreasonable to have cameras that recognize license plates and automatically bill you for running red lights.

Re:The gov agrees. (1)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478991)

To be fair.. red light cameras are not unreasonable. Well thats not completely true, they are not unreasonable when they are used as safety devices, which is what the original design was for. However it is unreasonable to use traffic safety devices as a means of revenue generation, which they do all over the world.

Re:The gov agrees. (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478703)

I wonder what this will eventually mean for the US economy (espeically the tech sector). For quite some time there have been some niche data services to promise your data won't be stored in the United States, but this seems to almost be a standard requirement for any such service now that at least deals with confidential data. Heck, even Microsoft now offers the option with thier Exchange Hosted Services services to allow you to choose to only have your data stored in data centers located outside the US. I'm just waiting for an update to the network stacks and routers to offer the option to set a flag which tells it to make every possible effort to avoid routing data over a network in the US :-) Kind of a joke that last part, but actually wouldn't shock me.

Re:The gov agrees. (1)

Just some bastard (1113513) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478845)

I'm just waiting for an update to the network stacks and routers to offer the option to set a flag which tells it to make every possible effort to avoid routing data over a network in the US :-)

Steve Bellovin already thought of that [faqs.org] we all thought it was a joke, in light of AT&T wiretapping I'm not so sure :-o

Well let's hope... (1)

edalytical (671270) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478819)

infowar Let's Firewalls Ermes Defcon hope Leuken-Baden Saudi Arabia $400 million in gold bullion they're 9/11 COSCO BCCI SSL underground watching Agfa JPL Clinton sweep KGB Steve Case the USCOI CIA LABLINK diwnright keyhole Al Jazeera connections espionage USDOJ UNSCOM and SRI lynch Rule not Psix BCCI event security USDOJ false SCUD missile cybercash positives! UOP Albright However, Bellcore BLU-114/B Ft. Bragg it Leuken-Baden follows SDI Aladdin that eternity server covertddd^&*dd3video9(33#&*d[NO CARRIER

Re:The gov agrees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478969)

The government agrees that they should have the right to investigate each and every connection that goes in or out of the United States, no warrant required.

The government "agrees"? Whew, load off my mind. For a minute there, I thought this was going to be an argument to convince them.

It's impractical to actually watch every connection in real time, or to store them all, but they certainly believe they should have the option to investigate whichever connections they choose at a whim.

They "believe they should have the option", eh? So again, what is the point of attempting to calm the masses by even using the words "reasonable" and "unreasonable" within our rights? If they believe they have the option, then I believe I have the option of telling them to piss off, and go find someone elses laptop to plunder. Of course, we both know how far that will go. Give me a fucking break.

Dude, don't give them any ideas! (1)

mozumder (178398) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478401)

Just stay calm, don't be nervous, don't look at their faces, and don't say anything..

No offense, but... (5, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478411)

No offense, but the ridiculous visa situation, warrant less searches and other issues certainly will secure the US borders.

After all, any country is safer if nobody wants to go and visit it anymore.

"I want everyone to remember why they need us" - liberties and freedoms that are eroded in the name of security and protection never seem to return once the threat is lifted again, and each one is another step on the path to Totalitarianism.

Re:No offense, but... (5, Insightful)

GeckoAddict (1154537) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478939)

Seriously... if you look at the happenings over the last few years, I'd say the US Gov has taken V for Vandetta as a guidebook on how to create an all powerful government.

We already have our own versions of unlimited surveillance and a 'black bag' type system if they think you're a terrorist.

While I don't support the theory that the US gov did 9/11 themselves... given their actions so far it's not that far of a stretch to say they may have held back from preventing it in an effort to give themselves more power... or at a minimum are using the situation to their advantage.

Terrorists goal is to disrupt life, and make us change our way of living because of fear. I'd say that we're letting them win every time we remove another freedom due to fear.

Re:No offense, but... (3, Insightful)

shliddle (1337091) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478967)

Actually, that's not true. The only people who won't visit are the nice, law-abiding people willing to spend lots of Euros, Yen, Pounds, etc. Therefore, the Criminal-to-Tourist ratio will simply go up.

Re:No offense, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24479033)

and each one is another step on the path to Totalitarianism.

Dude, we are so there already.

Unreasonable (5, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478437)

Since the Supreme Court has said that the Constitutional limits on Copyright, "for a limited time", that "limited" means whatever Congress says it means, then it follows that "unreasonable" means whatever Congress says it means, too.

The cops opened my unlocked garage and "had a look around", I guess that's reasonable. They searched my car because it was parked outside a dope house (I had no idea; my passengers were collecting money owed them by a slumlord they were cleaning houses for) as well as my person. I guess that's not unreasonable, either.

Why is it they had to amend the Constitution to outlaw alcohol, but not other drugs?

The Supreme court, in effect, says that the Constitutuon is meaningless. We, the people, no longer have any rights. And you can bet your wife's ass that they're already reading your mail and seeing who you connect to on the internet. The people running things today don't believe in the rule of law.

It's called encryption. (1)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478445)

Encryption is especially going to work when the data is only crossing electronically. They can keep it as long as they want, and it won't do them any harm.

Remember folks, if there is just one person (you) or two person's who share an alternative safe means of correspondence, then TrueCrypt works well. Otherwise, GNU Privacy Guard [gnupg.org] or similar systems work just as well (assuming that everyone involved knows how to use them).

Re:It's called encryption. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478485)

Encryption is especially going to work when the data is only crossing electronically. They can keep it as long as they want, and it won't do them any harm.

And that's exactly what they'll do - keep it as long as they want. Who said they want your data ? Maybe they're just after your shiny new laptop/camera/iPod/etc.

Re:It's called encryption. (1)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478559)

Data crossing electronically only? I'm not about to visit the USA, so they aren't going to get my not-shiny, not-new laptop or camera (no portable music player). Screw 'em.

Re:It's called encryption. (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478727)

As it happens I *am* about to go the US. And I am taking an encrypted USB memory stick and my iPod and this whole thing has me fairly nervous. The best thinks I have going for me is that I am a US citizen, and I can speak passable English. So I hope they (the TSA in Atlanta) will continue their previous habits of being bigoted and spending more of their time on suspicious looking people (whatever in the hell that means). The last time I went there they were generally being assholes to everyone around me, and they pretty much ignored me... maybe it was my Atlanta Braves T-Shirt.

Re:It's called encryption. (1)

skeeto (1138903) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478569)

Sssshhhh!!! The DHS boneheads might hear you!

Just like IRC and Usenet, when it comes to the DHS the first and second rules about PGP is that you don't talk about PGP. If this is your first time at the key signing party you have to sign.

Contrast with the mail (5, Informative)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478451)

At the postal museum in Washington, D.C. a sign reads:

At the beginning of the new America, nearly all the news came by mail. When the Constitution was signed, it was rushed by post riders to every town that had a printing press. And that's how the newspapers were able to bring the resounding news of how we were to govern ourselves. The newspapers knew of it first by mail.

In England, for centuries, the mail was frequently scrutinized by agents of the Crown or of the Parliament. It could be worth your life to write a letter that might be seen as having the seeds of treason. This did not happen here. From the beginning, by and large, the U.S. mails have been free of eyes other than our own and those of the sender.

To the framers of the Constitution, the mail made the engine of democracy run--along with the newspapers. And newspapers then printed a good deal of correspondence. Rufus Putnam, a key military figure in the Revolutionary War, said, "The knowledge diffused among the people by newspapers, by correspondence between friends" was crucial to the future of the nation. "Nothing can be more fatal to a republican government than ignorance among its citizens."

As a journalist, I have sometimes been asked where my leads for stories come from. Much of the time, they come from opening the mail. Readers from all over the country send personal stories, newspaper clippings, local court decisions, and student newspaper editorials arguing for the First Amendment rights of students. There is no other way I would have known about these stories except through the mail. It is through letters that I often receive highly confidential stories about unfairness in the justice system from people who would not trust any other form of communication.

The framers of the Constitution knew how vital the mail would be when Article I was written to protect privacy of communication through the mail.

Nat Hentoff is a columnist for the Washington Post and the Village Voice, and the author of Free Speech for Me, but Not for Thee. How the Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other.

Re:Contrast with the mail (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478517)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Comstock

The Wikipedia articles don't do that guy justice.

Yes, and that's news? (2, Insightful)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478453)

is equivalent to the right to tap any and all international connections

Yes, it is. And you can assume that all international traffic is, in fact, tapped by the US and other nations, including data, voice, SMS, Skype, other VoIP, and FAX.

I think the real question is what kind of legal cases this information can be used in (so far, it appears, none), and which cryptographic protocols have been compromised.

Re:Yes, and that's news? (2, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478951)

Exactly. Confiscating laptops just syncs the Customs policy with what they are already doing with electronic traffic. Perfectly logical, citizen.

Laptops are property? So what? Plenty of precedent for holding evidence, and for holding it forever, since the dark ages of the Steve Jackson Games raid. Actually, it seems like you can trace a lot of this legal lawlessness back to the War on Drugs.

Me, I can't afford to personally give the government laptops. Should be great for eee sales. And Ferriss (4 Hour Work Week) is probably right that it's easier to travel without a laptop. Maybe an encrypted flash drive with a linux boot would be a good compromise.

 

A suitable workaround, I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478461)

I am pretty sure that no one is searching a small flash drive, which could easily have strong encryption. Thus, one could overnight those drives to his/her destination being relatively certain that only a few organizations (NSA really) could open the files, presuming that they get a physical copy.
This would be more expensive, but if it is important enough (covered by an NDA, personally embarrassing, etc) I would think the cost well warranted.

Americans, do you feel secure yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478499)

It seems you can sell anything to the masses in the USA in the name of security: gross violations of the Sacred Constitutional Rights to protect you from terrorists, guns to protect you from thugs and rapists, huge gas-guzzling trucks to protect you from other reckless drivers. Gated communities to keep the looting masses out.

Are Americans really feeling so insecure all the time? Is it really such a dangerous society? Is it due to the awful media that likes to blow up each incident of danger without any sense of risks and proportions? Or are Americans really a big bunch of cowards? (Oh right, I forgot, all the security measures are really more for your protecting your precious family, spouses, offspring, elderly grannies and other loved ones than yourselves...)

I'll make a prediction (5, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478503)

Here's my prediction, on record [codemonkeyramblings.com] : this policy will be a real boon for micro laptop companies like Asus. Who is going to want to travel with an expensive laptop that can get snatched up by an avaristic or paranoid border cop? It bothers me to no end that they don't need due processes for this because I have a new MacBook Pro. The thing is worth $2,000 and is precisely the sort of thing that would become a target of something like this [theagitator.com] where the cops turned seized cars into a private car rental service for their own pleasure.

So I guess what'll happen is that people will take an Eee PC with them, and then download the data as needed from some offsite backup service. That, and the whole problem of people avoiding business travel to the United States.

Re:I'll make a prediction (3, Insightful)

Atti K. (1169503) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478657)

That's what I thought too. If I had to travel to the US now (but I don't, so this is just theoretical), I would leave my notebook and all my data at home. I would by a cheap EEE or something similar there, go online and get my data securely from home. When I'm done, send the data back securely, wipe the thingy clean (maybe leave some tourist photos on it, not to raise suspicion), then cross the border back.

Simple and effective. All you need is your data online (like machine at home powered on) and the ability to reach it. Except the case when you'd need to transfer gigabytes of data, this would be the best solution.

Re:I'll make a prediction (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478883)

Here's how I see it:

99% of the people won't give a shit. First off, they really don't have anything that they actually give a shit about on their PCs. Sure, they may surf porn and probably have all their passwords saved. Some may even have cookies with tokens to allow one-click purchases.

But they don't really care if the government sees all that. Maybe in your mind they should; but they just plain don't.

The people who actually give a shit will leave a few documents on their desktop. Maybe a few porn images downloaded from TheHun. Nothing too bad.

On a portable hard drive stashed in their luggage, they'll have TrueCrupt and an encrypted volume on a portable hard drive. If you are super-paranoid, you'll have a Virtual Machine disk image on there as well.

As for the hardware, traveling with an expensive book is always a risk. Check with your homeowner's insurance and see if you can get a laptop covered for a few extra bucks. You'll also see companies spring up to meet insurance requirements. They'll sell insurance right in the airport. Probably a retired DHS guy will head the company.

Re:I'll make a prediction (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478957)

I could certainly see laptop rental places opening up in the US. Don't even attempt to bring your laptop. Just rent one when you get there, and have your data shipped to you, encrypted, over the internet. I could see a problem with trusting a laptop you don't own, but you could boot off a LiveCD, or the service could optionally start you with an empty hard disk. I wouldn't trust it anyway, if I was doing something illegal, but if it was simply for the convenience of not having my property seized, I could see it being quite useful.

1984 Here we come! (1)

JohnMurtari (829882) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478509)

The amount of intrusion by government in a computer driven world is amazing -- and nobody really seems too upset about 'privacy' if you can convince them their 'security' is at steak!

People seem so upset about how this kind of stuff can go on? Well, how can billions of people in China live under authoritarian rule? Now we know...

Right now it only bothers us enough to make 'postings' on a BLOG. When we begin to take real action on behalf of our beliefs -- then they mean something!

Re:1984 Here we come! (1)

derblack (1076557) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478597)

steak.. yummy.

my relatives always say: I'm not worried, cause I haven't got anything to hide. I am so sick of hearing that... Let's take the curtains off the windows while were at it, and tear the fence down... I have never had my notebook searched though, maybe I don't look suspicious enough I dunno

Re:1984 Here we come! (1)

JohnMurtari (829882) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478645)

Oh, I meant to write a little more in my original posting but there was a knock at my door.

A nice man from the government came. He said they just want to install a camera in my living room, that it will help keep everyone safe, and of course, anything they see will be kept very confidential! Just looking for those bad terrorists!

Re:1984 Here we come! (2, Interesting)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478757)

The odd thing about this is that it doesn't apply to everybody. I have traveled for many different companies and I have learned who to contact. Surprisingly I have been at several borders where people have had their personal electronics confiscated while I am waved through with a trunk full. The people who make these laws travel with escort and arrangements in private planes and cars. It is more like economic feudalism than oppression. It is not sustainable, but neither was the British rule. I suppose it is a matter of when it becomes unbearable and that may be the gift we give to our children.<sarcasm>No inconvenience upon others is too great for me to bear for my own protection. -- The king

I'm trying to collect incidents + horror stories.. (4, Interesting)

rixster_uk (1216414) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478575)

so.... please let me know either at admin@scareports.com or at the website ( oblig. link : here [scareports.com] ) . You can post anonymously as well if you want....
There's a few interesting ones, a few boring ones but I NEED MORE !!!

Oh dear God! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478577)

What will they make to my little pigeon?

I want some of whatever policy makers smoke (1)

hansraj (458504) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478595)

Whoever thought of putting such policy in place must be a moron. If I have anything worth hiding while getting into US, you can bet I am not going to carry it on disk but encrypt it, put it on a server and copy it securely via ssh once I am in.

And if the point is just to give a false sense of security, just cornering random people and having random checks (turn on the laptop sir and enter the password) works as well without needing to keep the laptop indefinitely. Retards.

I recently traveled to US and reformatted my HD making a backup back home just to avoid this stupidity. No one stopped me for any extra checks on the way in though.

Re:I want some of whatever policy makers smoke (0)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478987)

Do you do this when traveling into Europe?
Most countries in Europe already had laws similar to this already in place.

Search and seizure.... (3, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478631)

The policy is over the line with the indefinite seizures; however, HISTORICALLY the government has always had the right to search anything entering its borders. I've got NO problem with that, particularly for non-US citizens. The indefinite crap has got to go, though - they need to be able to search laptop info a little better than that.

Too hard (3, Interesting)

nighty5 (615965) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478641)

Whilst I liked visiting the USA, its increasing stance against visitors is becoming too invasive to care anymore.

The first time I was forced to electronically store my fingerprints on your systems for an unknown period of time was the start of the end.

How wrong we were to assume that bio passports were enough to subdue to spooks.

Have a 'nice' day!

HR6702 (5, Informative)

Oh no, it's Dixie (1332795) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478701)

If HR6702 [loc.gov] is passed, this dangerous course can be reversed.

Sec 2(a)(1) sums it up nicely:

Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, no search of the digital contents of the device or media may be based on the power of the United States to search a person and that person's possessions upon entry into the United States, unless that search is based on a reasonable suspicion regarding that person.

Streetlight effect (5, Insightful)

drgould (24404) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478713)

I forget where I read it, but I recently a news article that mentioned the "Streetlight Effect".

We all know the classic joke. A man is walking down the street when he sees a drunk, on his knees, looking for something under a streetlight. The man stops and asks, "What are you looking for?" and the drunk replies. "My keys." So the man gets down on his knees to help him find his keys.

After a half-hour of fruitless searching the man asks, "Well, where did you lose them?" and the drunk replies, "Over in that alley, but the light's better over here."

This sort of security theater [wikipedia.org] reminds me of that joke.

We can't find Bin Laden. We can't stop al Qaeda. We can't (won't) secure our borders with Mexico. But we damn well make air travel a living hell for millions of innocent air travelers because, well, the light's better over here.

join the club (0, Offtopic)

svelemor (875096) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478755)

as [slashdot.org] already [slashdot.org] discussed [slashdot.org] , Sweden [wikipedia.org] is way ahead of you

definition of unreasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478789)

Anything more than scanning the laptop via the x-ray conveyer belt is unreasonable.

Sure, International Traffic Is Read (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478811)

Border controls of laptops are done to close a loophole. International web traffic from and to US can be freely intercepted by any means necessary if the people involved are non-US citizens. NSA can tap as they like into machines of non-US citizens, using whatever means they want. It doesn't matter whether it's illegal in the respective foreign country.

As for US citizens, access to personal information is much more restricted by law. That's why US agencies rely on GCHQ and other foreign befriended agencies to monitor US-citizens. As long as a US agency can plausibly deny to know how the information was obtained, they're safe. I'm sure other countries do it the same way.

Still I can't understand the paranoid, because only very few people have any valuable information on their computers. Things are different when you're working with sensitive trade secrets, of course.

But they do it anyway, don't they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478835)

Searching a laptop or any physical device is visible and noticeable, hence the needed legal background for public/political acceptance.

My opinion is that most of non physical material (namely computer data) is indeed intercepted and, when relevant, analysed.

Do you remember NSA's Echelon and the like? It was a few years ago... and I don't see any reason it is not used any more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A.

Just another (tapped) communication from Europe... Cheers.

call me crazy (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478847)

i'd suggest not even being suspected of wrong doing to be unreasonable. how does this fly with the USA's bill of rights?

Don't they already do that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24478855)

Monitor data imported into the US via VPN or web connection I mean

http://www.eff.org/press/releases/2007/08#005398

Annoy them (1)

Tenrosei (1305283) | more than 6 years ago | (#24478909)

I say someone catalogs around 200 junky old laptops wipes them out completely(throw Linux on them) then crosses the border with all of them in their car. So border patrol has to take all of them and since they are all cataloged if you don't get all of them back charge them for theft.

It has always been this way. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24479071)

Everything coming over the border has always been subject to search, since the beginning of our country.

From the lint in yuor pocket to your vehicle to anything in between.

I know it is hard to blame bush for something tht was started over 240 years ago, but give it a go people1

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