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CBSA Reveals Some Laptop Search Info, But Not Much

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the nothing-to-declare dept.

Canada 151

gmcmullen writes "The Canada Border Service Agency took its time getting documents on its policy for border searches of laptops to the BC Civil Liberties Association in response to an Access to Information request the BCCLA filed in October 2009. When the reply did come through, there wasn't much there. The documents were heavily redacted and whole sections of the Access to Information request were ignored, including requests for information on the number of laptops searched and policies for copying data from electronic devices. We did learn that the CBSA knows that 500 megabytes is roughly equivalent to 'a pickup truck full of books,' and use Windows-only software called ICWhatUC to scan for images. Documents also revealed that the CBSA understands that most 'Japanese Anime' is not child pornography, and that your family photos (even with kids in the tub) aren't child pornography either. We've made the documents we did receive available online so you can see for yourself."

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Legal, but dubious (4, Funny)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095582)

...and that your family photos (even with kids in the tub) aren't child pornography either.

Of course you'll wish they were confiscated when your parents decide to show them to anyone you date and embarrass you to no end.

Re:Legal, but dubious (1, Interesting)

wrook (134116) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095620)

Actually, not that I want it to be, but why is this not child pornography? I'm not really familiar with the law, but just because you are the child's parent and not distributing the pictures widely, does it really mean that you can take nude pictures with impunity? At what point does it become child pornography? Also, does it stop with your own children? What if you took a picture or your neighbor's kids in the tub (with yours for instance). I mean, this has got to be a slipperier slope than cartoons of nude children... isn't it???

Perhaps I'm being naive to expect logic in child porn laws.

Re:Legal, but dubious (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32095692)

To put it simply:

Kids who know nothing about sexual concepts having a bath != kids being forced to engage in sexually explicit activities

Or even simpler:

Bathing != fucking

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095736)

So your law would be "It's not child porn if they're not engaged in sexual activity"?

That's quite close to directly removing all CP laws.

Re:Legal, but dubious (2, Interesting)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095842)

Oh really? Some people can beat it off to grandmothers dance rehearsals and girls in tight jeans on the street. Lets declare that illegal too.

This sort of insanity does not protect anyone.
IMHO, what should be a focus of such laws is the amount of pictures in ones possession. 2-3 bathtub pictures of 1 or two kids you have some natural connection to is quite normal. 100+ pictures of strange nude kids on the beach is not. Heck, even 100+ pictures of fully clothed kids going to school warrant an investigation at least, but not pictures some parent has of their kid in a tub.

Re:Legal, but dubious (4, Interesting)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095892)

100+ pictures of fully clothed kids going to school

That's a good way to catch people who are creepy but seems somewhat disconnected from the justification for CP laws- ie child abuse.

Is the goal to lock up child abusers?
it should be.

Lock up anyone who might become a child abuser?
Possibly.

Or just lock of everyone who is creepy in any way for being creepy?
This seems to be the reality and what the majority(especially parents) seem to want.

Re:Legal, but dubious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096154)

Lock up anyone who might become a child abuser?

Possibly.

You first please - I'll throw away the key.

The way some (far too many) people think really scares me...

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096988)

I was commenting on the apparent goals.
Not what I think should happen.

Re:Legal, but dubious (2, Interesting)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096580)

You would need to lock up half the population on this planet and put the rest as guards.
Yes, it really is that bad. Only a small percentage however actually ever commit a crime against a real child, and even that means more molested kids you ever imagine.

And its the people you least expect to commit this crime. Priests, people in trust of the family, your brother, youth workers etc... Bathtub photos have nothing to do with it. 99% of actual child abuse results in 0 photos and a handful of confused memories for the kid. People who harm children are the only ones that should be hunted down. The rest should be really mindful about what is sensible and what not to investigate further, to see if somebody has been harmed.

Re:Legal, but dubious (5, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096958)

Lock up anyone who might become a child abuser?
Possibly.

I don't downmod for disagreeing, but I sure came awfully close here, especially with as high up as this was modded. I think it requires a response, though.

Locking up anyone who "might" become a criminal would require locking us all up. Time and time again, the person that was "always so nice" or "was a little quiet but seemed harmless" commit horrible crimes. On the other hand, time and time again, the person that seems really nice is nice, and the person who's quiet and a little eccentric really is harmless.

I could wind up killing someone, or abusing children, or starting up the next Madoff-style ripoff tomorrow. I have no intent of doing any of those things, but you have no way to verify that's actually true. Of course, I can't verify that you won't do them either, so both of us might. Guess they better lock both of us up.

Re:Legal, but dubious (0, Redundant)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097016)

Oh I was commenting on the apparent goals, not proposing how I think things should be.

Re:Legal, but dubious (0, Redundant)

sheph (955019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097090)

"Lock up anyone who might become a child abuser?"

And how exactly would you go about determining that? If you lock up 9 people who are innocent, but 1 who's not is that justice?
I'm all for stamping out true child abuse (sexual abuse, torture, inhumane punishment, harm due to parental psychosis, etc), but the very term has had such a wide array of meanings attached to it. It's become practically useless in conversation without some form of further definition. Even those who work for children's services have different ideas of what constitutes child abuse, and these are the people who have the power to take your kids away. Do you really want leave that decision up to security personel based on what they think you might do???

Re:Legal, but dubious (1, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097606)

Just to clear this up as people seem to think I'm proposing that people should be locked up on the basis of what they might do in the future.

I was commenting on the apparent goals, not proposing how I think things should be.

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096132)

The justification for Child Porn laws is that every photo is a record of an act of child abuse.

Now the children probably don't particularly like being sent to school, but I don't think any reasonable adult would consider it an act of child abuse.

Re:Legal, but dubious (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096584)

every picture of the burning twin towers is a record of international terrorism, but there aren't any laws against possessing those images. in fact, after sept 11, you couldn't ESCAPE those images.

the idea that possessing an image - ANY image - is a "crime" has never sat well with me, no matter what "justification" is used.

images are not "crimes".

Re:Legal, but dubious (2, Interesting)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096964)

The photos in circulation of the twin towers attack weren't taken as part of the terrorism. They weren't taken by the terrorists themselves, or by accomplices to their crime. There was no plan to take photos as a means of either making money for the terrorists or encouraging others to start doing terrorist acts and send more photos to the terrorists in exchange.
    You can't claim any of the same points about child pornography, and that's the justification. Note, not the "justification", but the justification. A witness to the twin towers attack was not an accessory to the crime, a witness to child rape is at the very least an accessory.

images are not "crimes".
Those quotation marks constitute begging the question. For shame, for shame.
Beyond that, money is not a crime (or a "crime"), but stealing money is a crime. A gun is not a crime, but possessing a gun if you are a convicted felon generally is a crime. The real argument here is about whether simply possessing these images should be a crime, and if so, should it be as serious a crime as producing those same images. There's arguments worth considering on those points, but your little sound-bite isn't one of them.

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097360)

The photos in circulation of the twin towers attack weren't taken as part of the terrorism. They weren't taken by the terrorists themselves, or by accomplices to their crime. There was no plan to take photos as a means of either making money for the terrorists or encouraging others to start doing terrorist acts and send more photos to the terrorists in exchange.

Its kind of hard to upload your photos of the 9/11 crashes when your inside the plane. Plus you don't think that every terrorist involved didn't know that the attacks would be caught on cam an shown over and over and over again for weeks on end? Why take your own pictures when you got all the free publicity the international press can throw at you?

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097118)

There is no suggestion that people are committing terrorist attacks to satisfy a demand for pictures of these attacks, whereas there are suggestions that child abuse takes place to satisfy a demand for child porn.

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097304)

> The justification for Child Porn laws is that every photo is a record of an act of child abuse.

Wrong. In many, if not most, jurisdictions, images which depict erotic acts involving minors are illegal, even if they were produced without any child abuse whatsoever: cartoons, images of adults who look like children, computer generated images...

See the following posts for a possible explanation of the "CP phenomenon": HungryHobo's, above [slashdot.org] and mine (from a previous story) [slashdot.org] .

Re:Legal, but dubious (4, Informative)

Diantre (1791892) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095990)

This is, in fact, the law in most countries (UK and the US, at least). Photos of nude children just being "nude children", without sexual intent in the picture, are legal. For it to be considered "Child Pornography", there has to be sexual activity or suggestive content.

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096076)

...there has to be sexual activity or suggestive content.

Now we come back to the problem of deciding what constitutes "suggestive content."

One man's harmless baby picture of his nude infant daughter is another man's child pornography. Maybe your bathing suit-clad daughter spread her legs and faced the camera at the exact moment you took the picture. The laws as-is don't make any sense, especially while there are sex-offender registries but not murderer registries. It's as if the people who make the laws are tacitly admitting to feeling dirty for enjoying your daughter's crotch, and blaming you for shoving that harmless picture in their faces.

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

wrook (134116) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096610)

That's interesting. I actually live in Japan, where drawings of children engaged in sexual activity aren't illegal. However I was surprised when I read the first volume of Inu Yasha (a manga that is also popular in the US) to see a nude picture of the main female character bathing. As she is meant to be 14, I wondered if it would be considered child porn in the states. There isn't anything particularly suggestive about it. She's just bathing in a lake.

On the other hand it's rather dangerous to have around, I guess. No sense becoming a sex offender for the sake of reading a silly manga...

Most (so-called) CP laws should be rescinded! (3, Informative)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096854)

Absolutely right! Most so-called CP laws should be rescinded, because they have nothing whatsoever to do with CP.

The original purpose of CP laws was to protect children from sexual abuse. They were never meant to prevent parents from taking pictures of their kids playing at the waterpark; they should not force parents to undergo background checks before they can set foot in their kids' kindergarten, etc, etc. All of these extensions come at the price of the rights and freedom of the vast majority of innocent people, and do nothing whatsoever to prevent real crime.

Politicians and helicopter parents have pushed this whole area so far beyond common sense that we actually have people (like the poster below) who think the police should get involved if you have several dozen pictures of clothed children! As a coach of a kids team, as a school teacher, or maybe as a grandparent with lots of grandkids, am I going to get a very special interview? Gee, thanks...

If someone forces a child to do something sexual, that is a crime. The original CP laws said: if you purchase a picture of a sexual crime involving a minor, that too is a crime. The justification here is: even though the purchaser had nothing to do with the original crime, by criminalizing purchase, one might be able to dry up the market that supports the original crimes. This original idea was extended to cover possession (not just purchase), which already strays from the original justification.

In recent years, it has been stretched beyond all reason. It makes no sense at all to prohibit innocent pictures (i.e., kids taking a bath, kids at the beach), nor to prohibit activities that do not even involve children (like tasteless cartoons). This is legislating "good taste" and has nothing at all to do with either children or with crime prevention.

Re:Most (so-called) CP laws should be rescinded! (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097286)

Bah, you make it sound like we should simply outlaw child sexual abuse and the production, purchase and sale of pictures of such and leave the topic at that. Possibly make an exception for older "children" producing pictures of themselves for private noncommercial distribution (teenagers sending pictures of themselves to their BF/GF). We can't do that, it'd make some kind of sense!

Now, to plant CP on politician's machines so they'll agree... =p

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095744)

If the person who's deicding if it's child porn likes you then it's fine.
If they don't like you then it's child porn and you can enjoy being on the sex offenders register.

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#32098184)

I would mod you up but I don't have any points.
You nicely sum it up, though I have one addition:
The default state is to call it CP, thus:

If the person who's deciding if it's child porn likes you then it's fine.
If they don't like you then it's child porn and you can enjoy being on the sex offenders register.
If they don't know you then it's child porn and you can enjoy being on the sex offenders register.

That's not pornography (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096172)

You're not so much naive as just ignorant of what the laws and precedents actually say. Nudity is not enough to make it a form of obscenity (in the US, at least). The SCOTUS and actual letter of the law are clear on this, the former, in part because obscenities by their very nature have "no artistic or scientific merit" as recognized by the federal judiciary and must appeal the to the "prurient nature." That means it must lack any independent merit AND be aimed at appealing to the lustful side of humanity. Simply taking pictures of every bath your kids take is not enough to get you convicted under the letter of the law or precedents, but it's enough to make you a target for a prosecutor who will (with some good reason) argue that you are a pervert.

Re:That's not pornography (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096464)

...but it's enough to make you a target for a prosecutor who will (with some good reason) argue that you are a pervert.

And a zealous prosecutor in front of a jury will get you jailed. Too often the jury is too afraid to let a potential pervert go. They end up jailing those who are otherwise innocent. CP cases are a prime example of "accused = guilty". This combined with the registry laws, makes for a lot of ruined lives and creates an extreme potential for "lifers" in the criminal system.

The definition of child porn (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097000)

The story is about Canada, so none of what I write below is direcly applicable. I've also written enough on this in the past on Slashdot for people to think I'm weird, so I'll keep this short. However, if you're interested in the way things work in the U.S., here's my perspective.

In the U.S., the definition of child porn is very flexible. Very. The definition isn't just in the statutes, it's in the case law. There are tests and ambiguity a-plenty.

Functionally, anything is child porn if the prosecutor says it's child porn. There doesn't have to be nudity. There doesn't have to be sexual acts. There doesn't have to be anything even remotely suggestive in any single particular picture.

When you get down to cases, the U.S. definition of child porn hinges on the state of mind of the person in possession. If the prosecutor can prove (sufficiently well to satisfy a jury) that you think dirty thoughts about little kids while you masturbate to the photos (or even, more controversially and more arguably, the drawings) of kids (or adults that look like kids but are believed by the possessor to be kids), then you're guilty of possessing child porn.

That sounds crazy but let me give you an example that will make it more clear, an example where the state of mind of the person in possession is already clearly established. If you've been convicted of molesting a child, it's a given that your thoughts about children are sexual. Assume you get probation and your probation officer decides to drop by to inspect your domicile. If the P.O. finds a single photo of a child, even if that child is bundled from head to toe in winter clothes, you'll go back to jail. You will have violated your probation for possessing child porn. You'll get a new case filed against you and you'll lose.

That situation, while it may be something that seems over the top, is at least understandable to most people.

The same standard is applied to all child porn cases. You can take naked pictures of children for legitimate medical research and you won't be prosecuted. If you've been previously adjudicated as a perv, owning a kids clothing catalog can get you a whole set of new convictions.

The difference is in what the prosecutor can prove to the jury about the state of mind of the person in possession of the media.

If the prosecutor can prove to a jury that you jerk off to McDonalds commercials featuring kids, then those McDonalds commercials, under U.S. law become child porn, but only if they are in your possession.

If you don't see the potential for abuse in this set-up, you're just not looking. It's a serious problem in the U.S.

Re:Legal, but dubious (1)

elgaard (81259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097054)

In 2008 a photo on the front page of a local paper in Denmark was censored. It showed some children playing in a garden, one of them a naked two year old boy. The photo was taken by the mother of some of the children and she was annoyed because she felt that the censors had turned an innocent family photo into something sexual.

It was part of the papers photo competition.

Apparently it was the the people operating the physical printing press that demanded that the photo should be censored!.

http://www.fyn.dk/article/95462 [www.fyn.dk]
http://www.pressefotografforbundet.dk/news/fotografi/9707/avis-bortcensurerer-noegen-to-aarig [pressefoto...rbundet.dk]
http://politiken.dk/indland/article471168.ece [politiken.dk]

Blacklist (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095588)

Ok, if we're going to work with a blacklist, it'd be nice to actually have it. I don't mind starting the query for completion:

Check to include in blacklist:
- Non japanese anime.
- Family pictures of close friends with kids.
- Paintings.
- Family pictures of friends you should call more often but don't.
- 3D Computer generated renderings.
- Family pictures of work mates you drink beers with, from time to time.

Re:Blacklist (1)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095634)

- naughty pictures teens a have taken of themselves to send to their bf/gf
Criminalizing kids for this is retarded IMHO.

Re:Blacklist (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095848)

I've run into people who honestly support criminalizing kids for that.

It's a result of the mindset that

*pedophiles viewing pictures of you* = *the same as rape*

and as such if there exists the posibility that a picture you take of yourself might make its way onto the net and be viewed by pedophiles then they're *protecting you from something as bad as rape*.

"what if pedophiles get hold of the pictures!" is apparently a genuine justification in some peoples minds for utterly ruining some kids life since being put on the sex offenders register for life as a child pornographer is somehow less damaging than a creepy pedophile sitting in his basement on the other side of the world masturbating to pictures of you.

Re:Blacklist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32098260)

Over the top and taking the cake was the case in the south (Virginia one of the Carolina's?) where two tees who were sexually active with each other (legally) got in trouble for taking pics of each other because they were under-age (18) for CP, even though the age of consent is 16 in that state.
-nB

Re:Blacklist (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096016)

Criminalizing kids for this is retarde

Were you expecting an element of sanity in government? YMBNH!

Re:Blacklist (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096416)

As someone whose been held and interrogated by Canadian customs for 3 hours a few years back I can give you a brief idea of what they check for, but I'll start by giving some details.

I'm a white British male and was 23 at the time. I was travelling by myself to visit a friend in Ottawa, it was Ottawa airport I landed at. I do not believe therefore there was any racial profiling as I'm not aware that people who are White British are seen as a particularly suspect group. In terms of digital devices I had a laptop and digital camera with me, as well as an old Creative Zen MP3 player full of MP3s, which I'll admit weren't legit, and I'd left a CDR with Windows XP on it in my laptop case which was actually used for a legit install (volume license).

I was asked many questions multiple times, presumably to try and trip me up, but specifically the following occured:

- I was asked where I lived, my age, profession and so forth

- I was asked how much money I have on my person

- I was asked how much money I had in savings, as well as how much I had access to on my card

- I was asked if my laptop or camera had any bestiality images on them

- I was asked if my laptop or camera had any other types of pornographic images on

- I was asked whether I intended to do any business in Canada, they seemed to press this question as they pushed it multiple times, in multiple ways

- I was asked where I was going in Canada and who and how many people I would be meeting, I said apart from my friend I was due to visit I had no plans to visit anyone else specifically. I mentioned I had no specific plans to go anywhere but it was likely we'd go to Montreal or to the Niagara falls, they absolutely did not like the fact I had no fixed itinerary and pushed me hard on this for about 45 minutes. They asked things such as why I didn't have an itinerary planned before hand, they asked why I even came to Canada, when I answered because I have a friend there and like travelling they responded with comments such as "Well I like travelling too, but I always plan where I'm going".

- They asked me to log in to my laptop and let them check it so I did as I had nothing incriminating on there, they simply did a search through my browser history and searched for *.jpg, *.avi and the likes. What is of real concern is that they dissapeared with my laptop for about 20 minutes. I have no idea what they did during this time, but I'd only recently done a fresh install on the laptop so short of Windows, Office, one or two games, there was little to find. They did find a soft-porn image from a pop up in my browser cache which they questioned me about, and called me a liar over for telling them previously I had no porn on the laptop.

- They asked a few times if I had a criminal record, when I responded no, they insisted I shouldn't lie and that they could check with the British police, to which I simply responded that they were welcome to do so to confirm I wasn't lying

- It's worth noting that they didn't seem to care that I was texting away on my mobile phone to my friend to explain why the fuck I hadn't yet got through customs as they were waiting for me in the airport whilst they were dissapearing back and forth. My friend told me they'd been out and spoken to him to ask about me too- he's got dual British-Canadian citizenship and I don't think that as a Canadian citizen he was too impressed they were questioning him in the manner they were too.

- They interviewed me both informally at the customs desk, and formally in an interview room covering the sort of questions mentioned above

- They did a search of my luggage, but it was very half-assed, they opened it, asked if I had any sharp objects, turned a couple of pairs of jeans over and then closed it again- hardly a thorough search

- Interestingly they had no interest in the contents of my MP3 player, they found the Windows XP CDR and didn't even question it.

- They used threats, initially subtle, the male questioning me first said "You realise there's a BA flight to London at 11pm", and I stood there rather puzzled, he asked if I understood what he meant and I said no, to which he was more blatant and told me I potentially faced deportation on that flight without explaining why

I still to this day have no idea why they singled me out, I have no idea exactly what was said as they were sure to speak French to each other when around me. They eventually let me go and carry on with my holiday, but needless to say I was rather unimpressed.

I have found Ottawa customs folk to often be a bit bitchy since but never to the degree the two who questioned me this time were, however one or two of them have been nice. In contrast, I've found Toronto customs, US customs as well as many European customs folk to be extremely friendly and welcoming every single time I've been.

Of course, this hasn't told you what is and isn't allowed, but to sum up it should at least point to a few things that I took away from the experience:

- They were very interested in the finances of people entering the country

- They were very interested in whether people were doing business in the country without declaring it

- Porn of all types legal and illegal were a target they searched for specifically

- They had no interest in checking out pirated digital content

- Another point not mentioned above, subsequent visits to Canada customs officers have mentioned that they saw I have been questioned by customs before, they also took a photo after interrogation, presumably all this information is stored on a file about me somewhere in Canadian customs computers but who knows for how long and under what terms

- They were quite tough on pushing me on whether I had a criminal record despite stating numerous times I don't

In hindsight I wonder if perhaps pushed back and asked for consular assistance from the British Consulate, but it was late (around 2am our time), I was tired, I'd been travelling for about 20 hours as I had to fly via Philadelphia from Manchester. I tried contacting Canadian customs to complain about the affair afterwards but was told the only method of complaint was to send a fax to the Canadian consulate in London. After they threatened me with deportation I asked what this meant for travel to the country not wanting to throw away my entire holiday and hotel booking. Interestingly, I was told if I was deported I could fly straight back and attempt entry again as if I'd never been questioned by customs, but this doesn't seem to square with the fact they clearly recorded details about it all.

It's a shame because I love Canada as a country, it's just sad these customs officers ruined my first visit there and for what? They accepted in the end I was just like any other average joe travelling through and that I'd done nothing wrong, yet still I was treated like a criminal for 3 hours, and for some reason that is now logged, presumably permanently. It could've been a number of reasons why it happened I guess ranging from training because the girl who questioned me seemed to be being coached through it by the guy but (again they mostly spoke to each other in French so I didn't catch a lot of it, I know some French but not that much), through to a simple random check and they're just always this harsh over it. Who knows, but it's certainly a holiday I'll never forget I'll give them that!

Re:Blacklist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096926)

You got caught up in training day exercise.

Re:Blacklist (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097238)

I crossed from MN into Canada for a geocaching trip mainly based in Winnipeg. We were detained at the border for over an hour and witnessed their dealings with three individuals heading to Winnipeg for a wedding. All three had criminal records including indecent exposure, DWI, and something else which I do not remember. They all lied to the border agents. After being admonished for doing so they were permitted to continue on into Canada without having their vehicle searched.

In our case they split us all up and interrogated us separately. We each had a laptop, a GPS (plus two more in the car for car navigation only), etc. They did not really care for our explanation of why we were heading to Winnipeg (recreation does not seem to be a valid reason to head there--although now after being there I understand why they were confused). While they let the three criminals before us go w/o a car search they searched our car thoroughly but they did not seem to care much about our laptops and didn't bother looking for anything on them.

At the end of the process I realized that they had nothing better to do and searching people's cars and hassling them was their job and they enjoyed it. When they weren't actively hassling you they were standing around chatting with cups in their hands. They reminded me of local police officers at the gas station sucking down free coffee.

Conversely, in a country which I always hear as having such awful border controls, when we crossed back into the US they asked us why the fuck we were in Canada and when we told her she simply said, "No one could make up a story like that, go on through." Basically, in other words, Canada's border agents are dicks.

Re:Blacklist (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097378)

When you say "2am our time", do you mean 2am GMT, or 2am Ottawa time? there's a 5h difference, and I know from experience that the High Commission in Ottawa is still working/operating at 9pm local time... in fact, I'm going to be there tomorrow evening for an event that doesn't end until after 9, and again on Monday for a meeting.

It's hindsight, of course, but I do agree that you should have asked for consular help. You also have a right not to be held without charge in Canada, but if you'd exercised that right they could well have responded by charging you with something. :(

For what it's worth, I'm a local and I don't fly out of Pearson. I'd rather take the 2h drive to Montreal or the 4h drive to Toronto, though that's largely because there's more selection in airlines at either airport. I really am sorry to hear about the crappy treatment you had at their hands. Hopefully they'll smarten up a little. :(

Re:Blacklist (3, Funny)

JimWise (1804930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097906)

Seems pretty obvious to me why they grilled you so much. Anyone crossing the boarder named "Anonymous Coward" is bound to spark suspicion, whether that name is included on the No-Fly List or not.

Re:Blacklist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32097912)

If you've any knowledge of Canadian history, you'll know that there have been longstanding conflicts and hatred with the French and British in Canada. The British basically tried to assimilate the French in Canada, and as you can imagine they weren't too happy about that, and bitter feelings still exist. My guess is that there was indeed some slight racism in your case. Not to call the French racist, but they probably didn't make great efforts to stop their feelings coming out through their actions.

Re:Blacklist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32097948)

Interesting post. I have a friend who does that type of work, and he told me that any time you're pulled out of line like that, it does go on record. The most leniant text that can go next to your ID is something along the lines of "We could find no reason to refuse entry". In other words, it's never 'innocent', it's just 'we couldn't find anything that would stick'.

Re:Blacklist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32098208)

I got treated this way on a trip from Canada to Las Vegas. They seem to really dislike young men riding singly with no definite plans. I was meeting up with my brother and his wife on a connecting flight. My first time to Vegas, so how the hell do I know what we're going to do? Go see the strip and some casinos. That's all I know. I didn't take a laptop because I didn't want any hassle over it and how much am I really going to use it in Vegas? I did take a PDA which they didn't even ask about. This unexpected questioning made me nervous, so now I stand out even more since my armpits are soaked. From then on I was the only one frisked, asked questions, etc. even after I met up with my brother.

I took my kids on a flight (inside Canada) and saw the same thing happen to a guy in front of us. Because I had kids, they smiled and waved us through.

I don't know what the hell they're looking for, but it seems obvious you need to travel with a buddy (i.e. make one in the airport if you have to) if you want to avoid this kind of stuff.

Encryption (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095694)

So my jobs requires encrypted drives, and in addition I use Linux. What should I tell them when they want to search my drive ? "I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to let you snoop in that, please see my boss."...? Way to end in the slammer either way.

Re:Encryption (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095752)

So my jobs requires encrypted drives, and in addition I use Linux. What should I tell them when they want to search my drive ?

Do you really need encrypted drives? Couldn't you use encrypted partitions?

What I mean is: Does it impact your job to add a deniability level to your encrypted data?

Because "That's just empty space" is a quite good defense, if done properly.

Re:Encryption (2, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096138)

"It's my work computer, I don't understand all this technical stuff" is probably a better defence.

Re:Encryption (1, Insightful)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095756)

Play dumb. One problem geeks seem to have in these situations is they are so high on their horse they have to act like freaking experts of everything all the time.
Just do exactly what the agent says, complying 100%, but don't offer any advice or claim any insight into what is going on at all beyond your legal responsibilities. If you use whole disk encryption, you are probably required to type in the key for that but beyond that ignorance will get you far. When they say "Oh, you run Linux?", say "Um, at my work we use something called U-buntu I think". If they ask you if you have any encrypted files or something, just respond with something like "I don't know much about encryption.". Make them do their job while remaining honest, and they will just leave you alone. Act like a smartass and they won't...

Re:Encryption (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095766)

Play dumb.

Crap! I think everybody's been doing this to me for a long time.

Never again. Next time they use that "Is he still speaking our language?" look, I'll know they're playing dumb and keep on.

Re:Encryption (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095960)

First they came for the cryptographers, and you did not speak out...

Re:Encryption (3, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096230)

Yes listen to the TSA in action over some cash.
Steve Bierfeldt of Campaign for Liberty confronted by TSA 3/27/09
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3394970594491846292# [google.com]
Be very careful in what you say over any computer device. As suggested keep it simple and "hope" you get to see a lawyer at some point.

Re:Encryption (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095764)

1:Pretty much though a good bet is to try to have some hard-copy paperwork stating that your laptop contains confidential company info.

2:Add some serious looking messeges at the boot screen about confidentiality and claims that imply that viewing anything on the laptop with less than 5 company lawyers present would lead to them getting in trouble with their bosses bosses boss.

3:Best solution: just temporarily uninstall the GUI package.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32095836)

Do a fresh install before travelling and pull your data over SSH once you pass customs. Then delete or do another fresh install before you travel back.

Unless border searches are full digital forensics (see you next month), they're simply wasting our time. Think they can find hidden partitions or data that's been encrypted and hidden in executables? What about trailing white space in documents, nothing could ever be stashed there right?

What's more of a problem is this idea that US customs can make you access your email without having a search warrant. I read email on a mail server over SSH via text client and AFAIK border staff have no authority to access a server in another country. They do have the authority to deny entry to anybody who refuses to drop their pants on demand. Ultimately the choices are to lie your way through customs or to take the honest route and refuse to travel. I now favour the latter.

Re:Encryption (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095940)

Some jobs require locking hard drives in addition to encryption. It could be interesting.

Re:Encryption (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095944)

Comply. Or end up in the slammer. If you end up in the slammer anyway, that's not your fault.

Or avoid the entire situation and boycott the country / carrying laptops through customs which is what almost anyone I know that knows IT and works internationally does now. The only solution is to not have anything, because even a non-Windows login screen can make an idiot suspicious. You're not allowed to have "non-functioning" machines because they make you demo them operating, so having a blank drive is out. Thus it's a sacrificial copy of Windows with *nothing* on it except VPN/VNC software or nothing.

And if you're from the EU, the "You're not allowed" argument probably holds more water but they are under no obligation to follow even EU data protection law, which means the very act of transporting that data (i.e. YOU) is a violation of data protection laws - thus you will get into trouble if the security guys take it and do whatever the hell they want with it (which is pretty much what happens if they stop you - they won't sign anything to say they won't distribute the data and/or they've destroyed any copies they've made). If it's a choice between breaking EU law and other laws, don't make the choice. Don't break any by just not taking the data. You won't be the only one, I guarantee you.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096030)

Keep business stuff on a server, period. Dont carry laptops to work, remote from your destination office.

Do live meetings. etc.

Re:Encryption (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096242)

Dont carry laptops to USA ... or Canada ... or .... , remote from your destination office.

Re:Encryption (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32097172)

I was working on a military contract and needed to fly all over the country via commercial air carriers. At the security screening checkpoint when asked to power-up the notebook computer I told them access to any data on the computer was prohibited by Department of National Defence security regulations. I produced a letter signed by the general in charge of the project and that was enough to shut down further actions by the screener.

CBSA Reveals Some Laptop Search Info, But Not Much (-1, Offtopic)

allitagonzalez (1804738) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095734)

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) (French: Agence des services frontaliers du Canada - ASFC) is a federal law enforcement agency that is responsible for border enforcement and customs services. http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/quik-trim-acai-does-quik-trim-acai-works-2091962.html [articlesbase.com]

Oh, look, Spam. (2, Informative)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095856)

Bloody Vikings.

Go away.

--
BMO

Re:CBSA Reveals Some Laptop Search Info, But Not M (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096468)

How is this off topic?

A pickup truck full of books (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095798)

No, no, no. It's a series of tubes.

Re:A pickup truck full of books (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095824)

No no.
They were talking about a flash drive full of ebooks about tubes carried by the driver of a pickup truck.

Re:A pickup truck full of books (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096266)

Wait for ACTA .. Do you have any mp3s, itunes media or ebooks to declare?

Re:A pickup truck full of books (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095904)

No, no, no. It's a series of tubes.

And what did you think goes throught the tubes?

Pickup trucks! Full of books!

who do you love!? (-1, Troll)

iwannasexwithyourmom (1804754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095818)

who loves mans, you love mans? wanna love my penis!? yum!

Nothing on my laptop. (2, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095838)

The only software I have on my laptop is OpenVPN. All I do once connected is VPN in and RDP to my workstation.

Re:Nothing on my laptop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32095916)

The only software I have on my laptop is OpenVPN. All I do once connected is VPN in and RDP to my workstation.

Are you an executive manager? How else do you get paid for getting absolutely no work done?

Re:Nothing on my laptop. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096082)

The only software I have on my laptop is OpenVPN. All I do once connected is VPN in and RDP to my workstation.

Are you an executive manager? How else do you get paid for getting absolutely no work done?

It sounds like a great way to get work done.

I got a full cavity search from those guys once (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095876)

They seemed to enjoy their jobs. True story.

Re:I got a full cavity search from those guys once (1)

elewton (1743958) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095980)

Were they wearing protective clothing?

I've always imagined I could spray shit for a couple of feet if I had to.

Re:I got a full cavity search from those guys once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096106)

That's obstruction of justice sirrr!

Re:I got a full cavity search from those guys once (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096272)

Guilt related discharge just makes them probe deeper.

Re:I got a full cavity search from those guys once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096418)

Man, they should try that on me. There are people who actually like that. Including me.* Unfortunately I don’t think they would like to continue for a second round, after I came. ;))

* Yes yes, I know, I should stand by who I am. But I still don’t have the balls to do so. Hence the Anonymous Cowardice. ;)

Re:I got a full cavity search from those guys once (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097884)

Did you try making comments like "Ooh yeah, that feels good! Shove it in harder!"?

Unfortunately... (2, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095952)

The sad thing about all this is that when a government department or agency decides to thumb their nose at a Freedom of Information Request, few groups have the time and money to fight them all the way to the Supreme Court. And when they get there, the likelihood of a costs/damages finding big enough to really hurt the government is almost non-existent.

Re:Unfortunately... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096914)

Pardon, but why the hell should the Canadian gov't and its arms give a bloody red cent about a U.S. law and the supreme court of another country think?

(Catpcha: disaster)

your own fault (3, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095982)

Refuse to cross borders which have unreasonable search policies.

If you don't, you're implicitly accepting them. It's your fault.

If that means you have to stay in your country entirely, so be it. Many people survive while staying in their own country.

If you lackeys would give up some of your iToys for a moment and stand up for what's right, even if it means a slight loss of comfort, the government would be forced to change.

Yes, I've stopped travelling by air. Yes, I've stopped travelling to America. I did both frequently and willingly before the post-11/9 intrusions, and loved going to the US. But I think in the long run it'll help both my country and yours if I make a stand, as long as others follow.

Re:your own fault (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096170)

Depends if they even know the reason why you are not travelling.

Two Americans stayed with me recently, they were genuinely surprised that if I enter the USA I would get fingerprinted and eye-scanned. One of the main reasons I refuse to transit through the USA.

Re:your own fault (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097554)

Same thing happens if you travel to Japan. I would say it's pretty common around the world now.

Re:your own fault (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32097128)

If you lackeys would give up some of your iToys for a moment and stand up for what's right, even if it means a slight loss of comfort, the government would be forced to change.

So giving up iToys and restricting your own travel is forcing some government to change how?

Re:your own fault (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32098364)

It's detrimental to big business, which is pretty much the government's #1 concern.

Re:your own fault (1)

afxgrin (208686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097744)

" I did both frequently and willingly before the post-11/9 intrusions, and loved going to the US. But I think in the long run it'll help both my country and yours if I make a stand, as long as others follow."

Yeah it won't make a difference, so you better get used to it. All the people doing business usually have no choice but to travel by air or to America. They'll basically be the reason why all of this won't change.

Re:your own fault (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32098030)

Stop being so defeatist.

They do have the choice to innovate better methods of communicating without having to physically travel. Cheaper and faster than travelling. Produced some cool tech like the Interweb.

Re:your own fault (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32098144)

This article is about (or "aboot") Canadian customs. Apparently, the mods don't even read the article summaries, either.

Re:your own fault (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32098382)

Canada is in America, air travel happens through Canada, and Canada is strongly influenced by US Customs customs.

Re:your own fault (1)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 4 years ago | (#32098386)

Yes, I've stopped travelling by air Yes, I've stopped travelling to America. I did both frequently and willingly before the post-11/9 intrusions, and loved going to the US. But I think in the long run it'll help both my country and yours if I make a stand, as long as others follow.

You realize this article's about Canada, right? I realize not traveling by air probably precludes you visiting them, but you should add them to your list just to be safe.

ICWhatUC (2, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096042)

Can't get over the cheapy-ten-dollar shareware that is the program they use to look for infringing material. I've probably written better software that does the same job *accidentally* while working on other projects.

Re:ICWhatUC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096508)

Note that the law enforcement version is $20 per license. I would guess this is unlimited time, unlimited upgrades.

Score another for "using price as the only factor in procurement decisions".... or, "the head of police has a less than competent programmer cousin who needed a helping hand"

Re:ICWhatUC (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096596)

The question is, how does one get a piece of software chosen for a job like this?

If the government is paying for crap like this anyway, it'd be nice if a cut were coming my way - I'm sure many of us here on /. are more than capable of putting together a better tool for the job (not to mention a website that doesn't look like it was put together by a colourblind child in 1997).

Re:ICWhatUC (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096830)

From my experience in the UK educational sector, the answer would be something like "Be a cousin of the person who gets to decide what software to use, and hope that the committee that he's supposed to answer to are all his golf-buddies and/or in constant fear of their jobs if they question authority." You'd be amazed what can be done when that's true.

Speaking as someone who once saw an entire multi-million pound IT project given to a team of Army personnel because they had a gap in their schedule, needed money, were friends of friends of someone high up, and could do the job cheaply. Ever seen someone fold up optic fibre like it was shredded paper in order to stuff it through a gap in a wall?

Re:ICWhatUC (1)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097696)

The interesting part is that while it's billed as Windows-only, the screenshots reveal that it's a Java app (or at least an app with a Java interface - check the icon in the upper-left corner of the window). It should be multiplatform; I guess we can just be thankful it's not.

Simple Solution (1)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096048)

Just load up a goatese desktop, throw in the "Hey everybody I'm looking at porn" audio clip and stuff the hard drive with goatese/tubgirl images.

Re:Simple Solution (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096196)

Unfortunately here the old motto from my home country counts: Maybe that would work on humans. But the SS are not humans. They don’t understand the concept of a “joke”.

Mp3's? (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096300)

Do they make any effort to see what Mp3's/music audio you have stored on your computer? Traveling with a hard drive full of p3's makes it a bit hard to prove you have all of the CD's sitting at home (assuming format-shifting is legal in canada)

Re:Mp3's? (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096402)

CD copying is legal in Canada, so I doubt the CBSA gives a rat's ass about your mp3 collection.

Re:Mp3's? (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096558)

This is music to my ears

Re:Mp3's? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32098206)

You pay a surcharge on every blank CD-R, though-- even if you won't be using it to store music.

This is really sad because..... (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097620)

....The current Conservative government in Canada promised to be more open and accountable to it's citizens. Just take a look at this YouTube video with Prime Minister Stephen Harper [youtube.com] in it to see what I'm talking about. But it seems that they are practicing the exact opposite. Just look at this issue and another burning issue in Canada involving documents relating to how Canada handled Afghan prisoner transfers [wikipedia.org] and the Conservatives unwillingness to hand them over to Parliament. This is even more troublesome when you consider that US Customs And Border Protection

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