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Bill To Add Accountability To Border Laptop Search

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the is-a-receipt-too-much-to-ask dept.

Privacy 495

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) has introduced a bill that would add accountability to the DHS searches conducted upon the laptops of those crossing the border. Specifically, it would require the issue of receipts to those who had their property confiscated so that it could later be returned, would limit how long the DHS can keep laptops, would require them to keep the laptop's information secure, and would create a way to complain about abuse. Finally, the DHS would be required to keep track of how many searches were done and report the details to Congress. Rep. Sanchez also has also issued a statement about the proposed bill."

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US Citizens only (5, Interesting)

jevring (618916) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037005)

Her suggestion only applies to US citizens, though. What about the rest of us?

Re:US Citizens only (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037031)

Sucks to be you.

no (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037047)

sucks to be them.

you think that businessmen, travelers will still maintain u.s. as a destination of choice, if this shit of a practice stays the same ? hell, or even just stays though changed ?

there are heaploads of countries in the world to travel to and do business with.

Re:no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037113)

rule #4 of registering windows: get to know your Haji! don't just talk to them, socialize a bit!

from the guide to haji dealings by microsoft

Re:no (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037207)

Unity100, when you type from your Black Berry, the arrow keys with aA under them are your friend. HTH

Re:no (5, Interesting)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037239)

correct, I already stopped going to the USA for business & pleasure both.

I used to travel there three or four times every year, since Bush has come to power and the US went nuts it declined until a few years ago I stopped going completely after one border harassment incident too many.

The US border guards are on par with some of the worst that I've seen on the east-west German and Polish borders when the Iron Curtain was still firmly in place.

Funny how things come full circle...

Re:no (4, Informative)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037359)

I wanted to go the US many years ago, visit New Orleans (pre-Katrina) and soak up the local culture.

Ever since people have been treated like criminals upon entering the country I decided I would never go to the US, not even if my job demanded it.

It's a shame though.

Re:no (1)

Exanon (1277926) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037455)

Well I luckily am not _required_ by my employer to go to the US. I do feel sorry for some of my colleagues who are forced to go since they have expertise that is needed.

Why do I feel extra sorry for them? Well, because they are not all white. And don't pretend like there isn't any racial profiling going on in airports in the US. If I as a white person refuse to go there to avoid unneccessary searches, imagine what these guys/girls have to go through.

Re:no (2, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037517)

Have you looked at our country lately (US)? There's worse problems than racial profiling to deal with right now. I am insulted that this law suddenly enables laptop searches where right now it's a violation of the 4th amendment. People are forgetting that aspect.

Re:no (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037537)

It's because we put sociopaths into those jobs.

Hey we dont want them working with the rest of us, so we put them on the borders and airports, as far away as we can from the rest of the population.

Sorry about that. We cant figure out what else to do with our insane other than jobs at DHS and as Border Guards.

Plus they work cheap!

Re:no (1)

mrops (927562) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037565)

Well at the right time too, with the economy the way it is, no point going there for business, there are better places to find business.

As for pleasure, US really doesn't offer anything unique, there are better, safer (safe from authorities on a power trip) and cheaper destinations to spend your money.

Re:US Citizens only (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037211)

It also sucks to be a place nobody will want to visit for business purposes, so, right back at you.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037341)

Sucks to be you.

That was "Interesting"? Well I never.

But if this... person is serious, it's worth pointing out that there are a lot of people who are voting with their feet and staying away from the US and the obnoxious pricks who staff your Immigration and security counters.

I'm aware that it won't necessarily make a huge dent in your GDP, but it's worth pointing out that your economy is in enough poo to make it unwise to throw away the tourist dollar.

Re:US Citizens only (5, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037035)

Don't visit.

Our government is sending a clear message that we don't want you, can't you take the hint.

Our government has made it clear, non citizens are not humans, and therefor cannot expect human rights. Is it really so hard to understand?

Re:US Citizens only (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037365)

Yes, having the same rights in a country as a citizen of that country, especially with regards to property rights, equals human rights. You have a right not to be murdered, tortured, or have your laptop confiscated without a receipt. That covers the basics. I'd go on, but the poster above is obviously an angry child with no understanding of things so why waste time?

Re:US Citizens only (1)

Markspark (969445) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037519)

either that, or the sarcasm in his tone totaly went above you..

Re:US Citizens only (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037041)

Her suggestion only applies to US citizens, though. What about the rest of us?

Well, you're all terrorists, right? :-/

*sigh*

Why does government have to be so clueless?

Re:US Citizens only (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037097)

Why does government have to be so clueless?

It doesn't *have* to be. But it generally is when you put a bunch of people who despise the notion of "government" in charge of running it.

Re:US Citizens only (1, Troll)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037193)

It doesn't *have* to be. But it generally is when you put a bunch of people who will do anything for cash in their war chest in charge of running it.

There. Fixed it for you.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037279)

Yeah, there's that, too.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037331)

Why does government have to be so clueless?

We have the best government money can buy. However, just like home-grown tomatos taste a helluva lot better than the ones from the store that taste like cardboard, bought government is just as bad.

If it were illegal to contribute to anyone you couldn't vote for and illegal to contribute to more than one candidate in any given race, I think you'd have less clueless politicians.

Re:US Citizens only (2, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037069)

Non-citizens in the US don't have anywhere the same legal protections as citizens. This is to be expected in ANY country that you visit where you are not a citizen.

So why do you expect that this proposed legislation should be any different?

Re:US Citizens only (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037121)

Read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Almost everything applies to persons, not citizens.

And yes, I know border searches are thought to be an exception to the fourth amendment.

Anyway, I think the Congresswoman's statement was a misstatement (or at least hope it is)... I doubt they'll actually say "Well, normally I'd give you a receipt, but you're an alien so fuck you," even given the interactions I've had with CBP staff.

Re:Read the Bill itself (5, Informative)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037213)

Yep, it doesn't even mention the word "citizens". The bill itself is quite short and makes a lot of sense.

Take a look: HR 6869: Border Search Accountability Act of 2008 [loc.gov]

Re:US Citizens only (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037227)

Read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Almost everything applies to persons, not citizens

In general I agree with what you are saying, but try explaining that to some people at the holiday camp down in Cuba. Now that is probably the most extreme possible example, but to me it does counter your argument.

Re:US Citizens only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037349)

WTF? What does Cuba have to do with anything? This is about how the US treats their visitors. Not Cuba, China, Russia, North Korea or Syria.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037373)

Guantanamo Bay.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037395)

Reading comprehension FTW.

"The holiday camp down in cuba" == a euphemism for Guantanamo Bay, a US military installation and now prison/interrogation facility. It happens to be located in Cuba (leading these scum to claim US law/constitution doesn't apply)

Re:US Citizens only (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037351)

Yes, unfortunately at the moment my argument is true in theory, and often false in practise. That could be easily resolved were the American people to elect a leader (and Representatives like Ms. Sanchez) who actually forces the government to respect the laws that are currently on the books to protect our rights.

Bush et al have created a set of shadow laws that aren't on the books but can be called upon a person at will when they piss off the Government. They aren't on the books because they know that the American people wouldn't stand for them, but they do create a chilling effect on any sort of protest -- which is why we don't see as much actual protest in the US as in other first world countries. (Think "free speech zones" here.)

Re:US Citizens only (1)

cawpin (875453) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037449)

I see this often as a reason that our laws apply to everybody. If that were they case, our laws apply everywhere to everybody since it doesn't mention only applying in our country either. This is obviously not the case, and anyone who suggests so is attacked just the same as somebody who suggests that our laws don't protect non-citizens.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037515)

Ow, you just hurt my brain.

Re:US Citizens only (2, Interesting)

neuromanc3r (1119631) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037445)

Non-citizens in the US don't have anywhere the same legal protections as citizens. This is to be expected in ANY country that you visit where you are not a citizen.

Seriously? I can't think of any examples of democratic countries with working legal systems that don't protect visitors. Can you give any examples (other than the US) of legal systems that treat tourists and business visitors like shit?

Re:US Citizens only (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037133)

Her suggestion only applies to US citizens, though. What about the rest of us?

There are people who still want to visit the US?!?

Business trips (2, Interesting)

_merlin (160982) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037159)

Trust me - I don't want to visit the US. But working for a multi-national company, I may have to for business. The war on tourism (that has accompanied the war on terrorism) makes it a very unpleasant and scary experience.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

Golthar (162696) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037217)

I'm sure there are plenty of people who travel to the US as part of their work.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

MrZaius (321037) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037265)

There are plenty who have to transit through, at the very least. Most countries in the western hemisphere have much more well defined flight routes through the US than they do through any European or Asiatic country.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037493)

There are two usual reasons. Business, as everyone else has mentioned. Love is the other, as in my case. The sacrifices I have to make to get through the border to see my girlfriend are well worth it in the end, in my opinion.

I would guess that the latter reason is growing in numbers as well, what with the Internet and dating sites out there now. Border officers clearly are quite used to hearing it.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037157)

We must Learn Our Place.

Re:US Citizens only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037165)

Customs officials have been searching your mail for decades. Every time you sent anything across the border, customs officials had the right to search it. Never seen those stickers on your opened and resealed envelopes? Why the sudden uproar over your Compy?

That said, I think all of this is pretty ridiculous, and I would definitely support Rep. Sanchez's bill.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037383)

There's a difference between mail being searched and your laptop taken indefinitely for their "investigation"

Re:US Citizens only (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037185)

Why on earth would anyone else even want to go into the US after their recent-ish track record? There is nothing of interest there.

Re:US Citizens only (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037313)

[from TFA]

Specifically, she wants to know how many searches are being done, where they take place, and the race and nationality of those being searched.

That would seem to indicate anyone.

I hope that along with the "race and nationality" totals she also gets the overall numbers of races and nationalities of border crossers in order to put context to the data.

Re:US Citizens only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037549)

Her suggestion only applies to US citizens, though. What about the rest of us?

Why, stay the hell out of the USA, of course.

Seriously. Over the last few years I've simply decided that I am no longer willing to enter US soil and therefore subject myself to the completely out of control climate and ridiculous laws that have happened after 9-11.

America has become so insular and paranoid, I'm simply not interested in going there any more. I think other countries should start subjecting Americans to the same level of indignity and scrutiny as they have decided to subject everyone else to.

The stupidity has now outweighed any redeeming qualities that used to be there.

$100 laptops (-1, Offtopic)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037007)

Does this mean there's not going to be an OLPC project anymore ?

Woohoo (3, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037019)

Thankfully, it will be tagged with all kinds of obscure spending bullshit so that the Dems can posture about freedom and liberty while still stealing our money. The Republicans of course will either try to tack on their own spending or stand up and blather about security while pointing out how noble they are for voting it down because of all the Democrat spending bills attached.

Either way, we can be pretty much assured that things like this that take power away from the government will never really see the light of day and both parties will get their "cater to the base" points in for bringing it up and bickering about it.

Re:Woohoo (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037075)

both parties will get their "cater to the base" points in for bringing it up and bickering about it.

Except where it counts -- swing voters, who decide more elections than either party, will see through this is as easily as Paris Hilton's new party dress.

How is it now? (2, Interesting)

Elisanre (1108341) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037055)

Can one of the border plods spot a nice laptop and basically just take it? (refering to no receipt for confiscated goods) Claiming that your brand new Alienware laptop is missing would not be hard if there is no proof of confiscation.. can this realy be so?

Re:How is it now? (1)

Werthless5 (1116649) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037209)

There are stories of laptops being stolen out of checked luggage, yes. Whether this has anything to do with legitimate searches, I can't say.

Most of us always take laptops as carry-ons anyway. It's much safer that way, but you can still be stopped and have your laptop searched. If they suspect anything or are just having a bad day, they can seize your laptop. Typically people either never get their laptops back or get it back after a very long time (months)

What A Sensible Law--Sanchez Is Toast (2, Interesting)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037057)

What a sensible and normal human response to this situation--Rep Sanchez is acting like a human being, ensuring that our rights are protected. This must mean that Sanchez is toast and will be voted out of office shortly. It always happens. Somebody in power sees the light and attempts to do the right thing. For their sins they are booted out of Washington. Just you watch... Her successor will favor total immunity for Customs.

Re:What A Sensible Law--Sanchez Is Toast (1)

icydog (923695) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037223)

Mr. Tinfoil, are you seriously suggesting that because of this issue, Sanchez will be voted out of office in favor of somebody who doesn't want limits on Customs? Do you really think that the people (the voters) hate their rights so strongly that not only do they want her out of office, but they want to replace her with somebody who wants to take away their rights rather than limit the government's power?

Or are you suggesting that the entire US election system is a fraud and that the people aren't actually voting for their representatives? Because one or the other must be true, otherwise your tinfoil fears make no sense.

Re:What A Sensible Law--Sanchez Is Toast (3, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037367)

but they want to replace her with somebody who wants to take away their rights rather than limit the government's power?

Nothing tinfoil-hat about it. Most people simply count as idiots and should not have the right to vote.

I can't find the link at the moment, but a few years ago a group of (Stanford?) students caused quite a furor over a mock petition drive to revoke a few dangerous "new" laws "recently" passed - The US Bill of Rights reworded into plain English. They had around a 70% positive response rate (ie, people who supported revoking the Bill of Rights).

Most people don't want freedom. They want TV and McDonalds.

Re:What A Sensible Law--Sanchez Is Toast (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037389)

Well I can see it happening, I'm just not expecting it.

Re:What A Sensible Law--Sanchez Is Toast (0, Offtopic)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037451)

When votes are anonymous, you have to admit it isn't exactly very hard to fake elections. I'm not saying that's the case, but neither do I really care at the moment as I'm not a US citizen, and I don't vote. I don't see why voting should be an anonymous thing.

Re:What A Sensible Law--Sanchez Is Toast (2, Informative)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037539)

When votes are anonymous, you have to admit it isn't exactly very hard to fake elections.

Err ... no? If you've got a proper audit trail, it's hard to fake elections, anonymous or not. It's the audit trail that makes elections hard to fake, not the absence of anonymity.

I don't see why voting should be an anonymous thing.

In that case, you've probably never been the victim of death threats (or more), vandalism, discrimination or being sent to the nearest re-education facility for how you voted in the last 30 years? Oh ... right. You don't vote. So none of that is a problem for you.

Re:What A Sensible Law--Sanchez Is Toast (1)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037501)

No, it was a joke--Mr. Pointy Ears.

Re:What A Sensible Law--Sanchez Is Toast (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037505)

Do you really think that the people (the voters) hate their rights so strongly that not only do they want her out of office... Or are you suggesting that the entire US election system is a fraud and that the people aren't actually voting for their representatives?

Because one or the other must be true, otherwise your tinfoil fears make no sense.

Your view is quite limited and depressingly naive.
It may not be the people who hate congresswhores who forget their place and actually stick up for the citizens. See, when ONE does something GOOD, it makes the others look BAD.

If it looks like this might become, gods forbid, a habit, then you can expect it to be "discovered" that Sanchez's father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate was once in the same zip code as Osama Bin Laden's manicurist, and she's trying to destroy our government from within!

(Not the GP)

Re:What A Sensible Law--Sanchez Is Toast (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037527)

I dunno what it is like in the US but here in the UK a lot of people tend to vote primerally based on the party not the individual.

What that means is that if a member of parliment pisses off thier party the party can kick them out. Once kicked out of the party they will find it very hard to hold on to thier seat in parliment since as well as the oposition party they will also be competing against thier old parties official candidate.

Good Lord! (4, Insightful)

MistaE (776169) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037061)

Are you telling me that currently, the DHS doesn't have to do any of these simple things that should have been required of them in the first place? This is just a pathetic showing of how out of touch Americans are with their privacy rights and how stupid we are for keeping the regime responsible for this in as long as they have been.

Man, I got into the wrong field, I should have become a border agent so I could my hands on free laptops every day.

Re:Good Lord! (5, Funny)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037241)

Hey, at least the USA have taken one step towards being a free, democratic nation. If they keep it up they might become a respected member of the United Nations in less than twenty years.

Legislating common sense (3, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037063)

I must be reading that wrong because it sounds like Congress doing something that makes sense. It's unfortunate that it takes legislation to get DHS to pull their collective head out of their butt. This should never have been a problem that needed solving.

Re:Legislating common sense (5, Insightful)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037297)

This solution only makes sense to a bureaucrat. This is not accountability; this is just another set of hurdles.
1)How will the laptop be returned? Who will pay the shipping charges?
2)Will the government pay for damage during confiscation and/or return shipping?
3)What kind of receipt? Will I have to hand over personal information to identify myself -- which is put in a database and probably not encrypted? What data retention rules will be applied to that database?
4)Complaints -- another black hole into which citizens communicate and no response is ever received. I suggest the bill require the DHS to pay all damage/theft claims first; then try to obtain a refund if the claim is found false.
5)Report to Congress? What a waste of time. I want all that information on a GAO audited web page: how many items confiscated, how many were actually forensically investigated, how many returned to the owners, process time from confiscation to return, how many damage claims and how much it cost, how many arrests as a result of confiscation.

And while they are creating the web page, I want that receipt to provide access to a web page where I and my companies lawyers can track the process of my confiscated equipment. When the item is returned, it will link to the UPS/FedEx tracking number so I can track the return of my item.

Re:Legislating common sense (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037535)

Simpler solution:

Guard: Give me your laptop.
Citizen: Give me my receipt.
Guard: Here you go.
Citizen: Okay, here's my laptop.
Citizen: Hey, this is a receipt for a packet of gum!
Guard: What about it?
Citizen: Where's my laptop?
Guard: What laptop?

The End

Good to know. (2, Insightful)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037077)

That people will be more secure when they search laptops for.....ehm...terrorists?

Re:Good to know. (5, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037397)

Oh hell, you found me out. I took out all the electronics in my laptop and have been smuggling terrorists in it for months now. I guess I'll have to put them in my shampoo bottle... what? No shampoo bottles either? Wow, those guys are doing a heckuva job, Brownie!

How about not searching the laptops at all? (5, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037079)

Cause there's no legitimate reason to do so.

What happened to reasonable search and seizure again? And don't gimmie the bullshit about this being the border, and thus completely outside the scope of normal legal protections. It's one thing to look for smuggled goods or potentially disease carrying goods, etc. But nothing you can carry on a laptop can't just be transmitted past customs over the internet. There's no actual reason to search peoples electronics at the border.

Re:How about not searching the laptops at all? (1)

Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037319)

But nothing you can carry on a laptop can't just be transmitted past customs over the internet.

That's exactly what the "terrorists" will start doing/are already doing.

Re:How about not searching the laptops at all? (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037393)

Well duh. It's cheaper and easier, and there's far less chance of getting caught, and you can do it in such a way as to hide who's dropping off the information and who's collecting it.

This is just about getting people to buckle under to arbitrary authority.

its start (2, Insightful)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037093)

Finally , someone that sees something wrong with present day situation for abuse of power at border crossings.

Re:its start (3, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037321)

Now all they need to do is curb fingerprinting of holiday-makers, pre-boarding name checking against inaccurate and ineffective no-fly blacklists, and the general criminal treatment of anybody without a US passport, currently with little more rights than cattle outside the border, who wants to spend THEIR money on YOUR culture.

I use the term "culture" loosely. (If that gets me a troll mod, so be it.)

Bill To Add Accountability To Border Laptop Search (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037107)

God bless Bill. He fights for our freedom.

Re:Bill To Add Accountability To Border Laptop Sea (4, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037151)

It is nice to see Bill doing his job. Most legislation gets passed because of Neil and Bob.

NOT suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (5, Insightful)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037111)

This is not suddenoutbreakofcommonsense. The original bill should never have passed in the first place, and common sense would be to remove it again.

While this bill is a step in the right direction it also indirectly legitimates the original bill by not outright removing it. They have no business to search my laptop should I come to the US, not in any way, and not in a limited way either. Period. :)

Re:NOT suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (3, Informative)

superid (46543) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037273)

Why do you assume you have this right? Seriously, this isn't trolling. It's well founded that even US citizens may legally be searched when entering the US.

Reference: Border Search Exception [wikipedia.org]

Re:NOT suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037405)

Searched yes, but them taking possession of your laptop for an indefinite amount of time (in which you probably wanted to use it for your job or something?) is just unacceptable.

Re:NOT suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (1)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037567)

Because even the Border Search Exception states that they must have reasonable suspicion to do so. It is my understanding that the laptop-search-bill allows them to just take your laptop "for fun" and nothing will ever come of it.

Futhermore, there is nothing that I can have on my laptop that can in any way harm you. Even if it should contain hate speech or instructions to build bombs, that's nothing that couldn't be found on the internet as well. There is absolutely zero point in searching my laptop.

If it was established that I was a known criminal or something like that, they might possibly have a reason. But I think even then there should be an immediate reason for performing the search, and not just because they had the opportunity.

Re:NOT suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037347)

Perhaps we could start a new "suddenstepintherightdirection" tag?

Re:NOT suddenoutbreakofcommonsense (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037375)

You're stupid

Use of Encryption (1)

superid (46543) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037117)

From the statement:

"Currently federal border agents may conduct border searches and seize travelers' personal laptops and other electronic storage devices without evidence or suspicion of wrongdoing."

It does not appear that this bill will change the reason you are targeted for a search. Since I'm an advocate of strong encryption I use TrueCrypt a lot. I can imagine that I could be flagged just because I have TrueCrypt installed, even if they cannot find an encrypted file system (hint - they won't)

Loretta Sanchez (0, Offtopic)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037127)

any relation to Dirty Sanchez?

I understand... (4, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037131)

I understand why they have to do searches pre-flight. You certainly don't want people sneaking dangerous materials, weapons, etc. on a plane flying at high speed miles above the ground.

And I can understand why they would want to check the hardware of laptops to ensure that they're really laptops and not disguised bombs or weapons of some sort.

But what I cannot fricken understand is why they check data on laptops. Is someone really going to drop a plane out of the air because a laptop has porn on it?! Is someone really going to high-jack a plane because he has a hard drive full of copyright infringing MP3s?!

Searching data on a laptop has absolutely no relationship to the reason for pre-flight searches. It will not protect anyone and is done solely as a fishing expedition get around the US Constitution. You'd think conservatives would want to protect our Constitution. But you'd be completely wrong.

Re:I understand... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037245)

And you can even transport data over the internet without being checked. Funny.

Re:I understand... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037379)

Good point, I hadn't even thought of that.

Republicans != Conservatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037253)

You'd think conservatives would want to protect our Constitution. But you'd be completely wrong.

Anyone, Republican or otherwise, who doesn't want to protect our Constitution isn't a conservative. Conservatives and Republicans, although often the same people in the past, aren't synonymous.

Re:I understand... (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037263)

As I understand it they are searching the drives when you enter the US, so in fact you are done flying, the data in question is to determine if you are a threat to national security (I guess).

Re:I understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037427)

Haven't you seen Independence Day?

Goldblum took an alien mothership out with a Mac laptop.

It's clearly going to happen to a 747 sooner or later.

Thumbdrives (2, Insightful)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037149)

Meanwhile, terrorists will just encrypt their data on thumbdrives and shove 'em up their ass.

Re:Thumbdrives (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037293)

some dedicated [goatse.ch] terrorists did that with full size hard drives.

Well it's about damn time (1)

Werthless5 (1116649) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037175)

Searching laptops at all is bullshit, but at least this will quell some of the horror stories (if it passes)

Always a fan of accountability and transparency.. (1)

PhilJC (928205) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037199)

..but I still can't get my head round why they're bothering to search peoples laptops in the first place.. what exactly do they hope to find? Surely anyone determined to get information into the US could think of a million ways of avoiding getting snagged by these border checks.. Off the top of my head: Upload it and download once across the border Email it to themselves Put it on a CD and send it in the post Have it printed on microfilm and stored in a hollow tooth Tattoo it on a Rottweiler, let the hair grow back and send it through quarantine etc. etc. Is this whole law just there to try and catch people who haven't heard that the law exists? or computer illiterate pensioners fiddling their taxes? Just sounds like a big waste of money and time.

Actual Text of Proposed Bill (4, Informative)

martyb (196687) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037295)

I found a link on Thomas [loc.gov] for the actual bill: Border Security Search Accountability Act of 2008 (Introduced in House) [loc.gov] . Haven't had a chance to read it yet, but hopefully it can clear up questions as to whether it applies only to U.S. Citizens, or to *anyone* who is crossing the border.

BTW: This is the PROPOSED text of the bill. It's by no means a law, yet, and is certainly subject to amendment before/if it ever it gets voted on.

Obvious missing option (2, Interesting)

codeButcher (223668) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037301)

As a non-USian, I might be clueless, but wouldn't it be easier for congress to simply stop said department (an extension of the US government) snooping people's data? It's not as if child pron (as an example) will make a plane fall out of the sky or crash into a building. And if they have good reason to believe one carries such data, aren't the normal, legal routes (warrants etc.) sufficient?

Seems this politico does not want the state to give up it's unlawfully usurped power over the population - just make it seem more palatable without needing any real action - DHS is a branch of government after all, and who else will the complaints go to than the government?

Re:Obvious missing option (4, Informative)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037413)

As a non-USian, I might be clueless, but wouldn't it be easier for congress to simply stop said department (an extension of the US government) snooping people's data?

It's not specific for the US - making laws is usually easier than getting rid of them. So, if there's a way to make something that's allowed by law, but which you don't like impractical by saddling it with extra laws, that's usually preferred to repealing the law which allows it in the first place.

will make a plane fall out of the sky or crash into a building.

Since any of these searches are done by _customs_, it doesn't matter what or what not the data on the laptop might do to the plane. It has already landed.

Israel and West Bank was faster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037361)

Only applies to US Citizens eh?
You know something is wrong when it takes a Westerner longer to get through the US border then it does to get around Israel...

Why? (3, Insightful)

kidde_valind (1060754) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037401)

Why is this tagged suddenoutbreakofcommonsense? A sudden outbreak of common sense would be if the DHS simply stopped searching peoples laptops. It's not like the border is in any way impermeable to unauthorized and unsnooped data anyway. In a way this is just like DRM. It doesn't affect those who know how to get around it, and the rest aren't worth bothering about.

Wipe, VPN, wipe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037421)

I just prepared a laptop for a suit's little trip to the US.

1) did 7-times write with random characters on entire drive
2) removed partitions
3) formatted with ubuntu (wasn't sure of the legality of the windows xp pro license since the machine had come with Vista)
4) put tarball containing vpn client software on password-protected site for download, put data on vpn server.

this machine is now designated as the "gitmo" machine, it is to be wiped and used for each us trip.

Re:Wipe, VPN, wipe (1)

kidde_valind (1060754) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037555)

This 'gitmo' machine may very well get it's carrier sent to gitmo, as the random characters you wrote surely constitute a TrueCrypt installation for which he refuses to provide a key.

Come on guys, Rep. Sanchez.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25037441)

...is an open borders loon with divided loyalties. And will support any legislation that reduces the U.S.'s ability to control what happens on its borders and who or what gets in or out.

She doesn't care about the 4th Amendment, lol. She wants to intimidate U.S. officials into not searching any Mexicans, end of story. (Thus the requirement to report on the "race and nationality" of whose laptop is searched.)

I don't agree with randomly seizing laptops either, but lets not be morons about the actual purposes of this legislation.

btw don't blame "the Regime" or "the Conservatives" for this. It was the 9th Circuit Court that upheld these searches. You know, the 9th Circuit - its in San Francrazy-o and passes all the wacky Liberal activist stuff. Its also the most overturned by the Supreme Court.

receipt (4, Funny)

noldrin (635339) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037511)

personally I think getting a receipt for your stolen property only increases the indignity of the entire situation.

"That is your receipt for your husband, thank you, and this is my receipt for your receipt."

!common sense. Security Theatre. (4, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037547)

WHY are they confiscating the computers in the first place? Anyone with even the slightest bit of sense could move huge amounts of data through the interweb, encrypted to and from one anonymous point to another. and if it's encrypted more than once, it's nearly impossible to decrypt. and if you then take that and turn it into a .bmp file, then it just seems to be a collection of static-like images with precious little info. And all you have to do is dump the data to a CDR or DVDR and stick with the rest of your music collection.

This bill is NOT a sudden outbreak of common sense. A sudden outbreak of common sense would be to abandon this idiotic practice for the security theatre it is.

And people wonder why I left and don't like returning to the USA. California uber alles.

RS

Never should have gone this far. (1)

Xanlexian (122112) | more than 6 years ago | (#25037557)

I just find it absolutely absurd that things have gone so far as to even require a law like this.

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