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CryptoCat Developer Questioned At US-Canadian Border

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the algorithms-please dept.

Censorship 271

Dangerous_Minds writes "ZeroPaid is documenting some comments made by an encrypted chat developer who was interrogated at the U.S. border recently. According to the CryptoCat developer, border guards confiscated his passport and interrogated him about the application he developed. Most notably, he commented, "The interrogator (who claimed 22 years of computer experience) asked me which algorithms Cryptocat used and about its censorship resistance.""

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Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243023)

According to the CryptoCat developer, border guards confiscated his passport

Maybe I'm the only one that was confused by that but the phrasing of this in the summary lead me to believe that they confiscated his passport indefinitely in some sort of draconian move to prevent him from leaving the country or traveling in general. But, luckily, I read the article:

This [twitter.com] : “Also worth noting: my passport was confiscated for around an hour.”

I'm not saying it's okay but I've been pulled into secondary coming back from the Caribbean and, the customs official had my passport for about 45-60 minutes while he asked me the stupidest of questions (far more mundane and pointless than what algorithms I develop).

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (4, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243093)

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. A secondary screening can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of hours normally. It'll be much longer if they really think they have something on you. But going through an hour of the bureaucracy and questioning isn't something to really write a letter home about. A footnote, maybe, but not a letter.

Would the dev felt better if it was an hour of pointless and inane questions?

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243143)

I've crossed the border between Russia and just about anywhere you can think of that shares a border with Russia. I have never ever been interrogated at their border. I've even crossed the Ukrainian Moldovan border with another individual who overstayed his visa for months. They barely asked any questions even then, they just walked him to a nearby bank and had him pay a fine (the fine is paid directly to the bank to prevent the possibility of the border guard pocketing it). I even overstayed my own visa while exiting Ukraine. I didn't even miss my flight.
 
People need to realize that the United States has a very brutal regime in charge at the moment.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (1)

moogied (1175879) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243181)

Yes Boris.. yyeesss!!

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243249)

While I sympathize with the criticism of our government, I think it's a bit hyperbolic to call this "brutal", especially when the comparison is with Russia where protesters are routinely rounded up and will now be forced to pay fines up to $20,000 [latimes.com] for merely protesting the regime.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243331)

We just mace them instead.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243465)

Mace doesn't hurt as much as a $20,000 fine and it's more fun to watch.

Re: Immigration and Customs are dangerous (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243553)

They're far more dangerous than most people realize: the checks and balances and legal avenues of appeal that US citizens are used to don't apply on the border for non-citizens. They can jail you indefinitely, subject to appeals from your native country if they wish. If your "native" country doesn't care (eg. you are an asylum seeker) you can rot in jail indefinitely.

Google whats happened to citizens of "former countries", for example. If you break the law in the US, you go to jail. Fair enough. Typically if you're not a US citizen you may be deported. What happens if your original country no longer exists, or won't take you? you can sit in jail indefinitely. There were several thousand in this position the last time a journalist investigated (oh, and FOIA requests are pretty hard here too).

I'm posting AC because I have relatives in the US in a similar position. They are in a small, Pacifist Christian sect. They left Ireland (sent to relatives in US) in the 1940s as children, less than 10 at the time; they are now retirees, and naturalized, but not US citizens: becoming citizens would mean swearing an oath to defend the US, which they will not do as pacifists. Their children are US citizens and don't have to swear this oath.

Now, they have to be careful: their children are active in the antiwar movement and have frequently been arrested on protests. Small, non-violent stuff. But if they go near a protest, they risk being arrested: they will be deported "back home" after they have paid the fine, etc. They are in their 70s and don't ever remember Ireland, never mind have friends and relatives there. Any small infringement: traffic violation, etc. can ruin their lives, on the whim of an ICE official.

So when you see that nice American granny in your neighborhood, upstanding member of the community, don't imagine they don't live in fear of arbitrary "American Justice".

Re: Immigration and Customs are dangerous (1, Troll)

Jiro (131519) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244091)

Protesting in a way that results in a fine is not something you are supposed to do at all--(of course it could be a problem if they are unjustly fined for something they didn't actually do, but it doesn't sound like that's the problem you're describing). I have little sympathy for the idea that these elderly people have to avoid doing things that they're not supposed to be doing at all anyway to avoid being deported.

A fine is not a fee. You don't pay a fine and get permission to perform one illegal protest, any more than a company which paid the fine for illegally dumping chemicals has actually purchased permission to dump the chemicals, or a rapist who's put in jail has retroactively purchased, with his jail time, the right to commit one rape. A fine is a punishment and the activity for which you are punished is prohibited; it doesn't become okay because you've paid the fine. If you're thinking "their children can protest if they pay the fine, why can't they", you're thinking about it the wrong way.

Re: Immigration and Customs are dangerous (1)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244367)

If you're thinking "their children can protest if they pay the fine, why can't they", you're thinking about it the wrong way.

I think you as well. Protesting shouldn't be illegal, and a citizen of the US should never be fined for doing it. If you are on private property then it is tresspassing. If your activity is unsafe or otherwise disrupts other's lawful activites, there are other relevant charges. But protesting in the USA should always be legal for US citizens. Now, I'd rather see protesting be legal for anyone here lawfully. I want people here on visas, or green cards, who are wronged by the US government to have a public voice as well. But I'm willing to accept there may be good reasons to not do this.

I am confused by what grandparent says about his relatives are naturalized but not citizens. I thought naturalization by definition is becoming a citizen of a country in which you were not born. If they can't protest and they are naturalized citizens, I am really concerned. But if they are green card holders but not citizens, then again I'd rather they could lawfully protest, but can understand otherwise.

Re: Immigration and Customs are dangerous (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244459)

Except that the restrictions on even peaceful protest in the united states has exceeded a reasonable level. Protesting outside of a 'designated zone' (which will be so far away from what you are attempting to protest as to be effectively censorship of your statement); arrest.

Failure to identify your intent to protest; arrest.

Challenge a politician with a non-vetted question during a presentation at a public location- fine+removal, refuse to leave; arrest.

Protesting for too long; eviction, arrest, and fines.

Actually effectively delivering your message via a gimmick; fine, told to stop, arrest if you refuse (under 'obstructing traffic, or public nuisance)

Chanting your slogan fine, told to stop, arrest if you refuse (under 'obstructing traffic', or public nuisance)

Essentially protesting, even peaceful protesting, is now a fine-able or arrestable offence.

Re: Immigration and Customs are dangerous (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244693)

Protesting in a way that results in a fine is not something you are supposed to do at all

When the government doesn't respect your right to peaceably assemble, how else are you supposed to protest?

The only protests worth participating in are the ones that could actually change something. Those are the protests that the government will fight with all of its power. That power includes arresting protesters for simply protesting. This is what we saw happen last fall from NY to Oakland.

Think of it this way, if Mubarak had tried to forcibly clear Tahrir square with the excuse of "health and safety", the international community wouldn't have bought that excuse for a second. Yet the US is allowed to get away with claiming "health and safety" as a reason to break up peaceable assembleys like Occupy. And nobody bats an eye.

If you could trust the government to follow the rule of law, you'd have a point. But we're far, far past that point.

Re: Immigration and Customs are dangerous (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244203)

It possible to get a waiver on religious grounds for the part of the oath that requires you to bear arms. See http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/chapter5.pdf

I don't think your relatives looked very carefully at the citizenship process.

I call shenanigans. (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244735)

Some things in your story don't pass my BS test as an immigrant from Canada preparing to Naturalize in a year or so...

naturalized, but not US citizens

Naturalization [wikipedia.org] means to become a citizen of a country other than by means of birth. Hence, you can't naturalize and not be a citizen by definition. Did you mean they were / are lawful permanent residents?

becoming citizens would mean swearing an oath to defend the US, which they will not do as pacifists.

From the USCIS Guide to Naturalization [uscis.gov] (PDF links in page, quote is from Chapter 5):

Waiver or Modification of the Oath of Allegiance.

In certain circumstances there can be a modification or waiver of the Oath of Allegiance. These circumstances are as follows:

  If you are unable or unwilling to promise to bear arms or perform noncombatant service because of religious training and belief, you may request to leave out those parts of the oath. USCIS may require you to provide documentation from your religious organization explaining its beliefs and stating that you are a member in good standing.

  If you are unable or unwilling to take the oath with the words “on oath” and “so help me God” included, you must notify USCIS that you wish to take a modified Oath of Allegiance. Applicants are not required to provide any evidence or testimony to support a request for this type of modification. See 8 CFR 337.1(b).

  USCIS can waive the Oath of Allegiance when it is shown that the person’s physical or developmental disability, or mental impairments, makes them unable to understand, or to communicate an understanding of, the meaning of the oath. See 8 USC 337.

Frankly, USCIS is remarkably accepting here, and if it was brought up to an immigration officer I'm certain they'd advise your parents of the possibility of a modified Oath. So either your parents don't know about this, are assuming it can't be modified, and haven't tried, or your whole story is fabricated.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243741)

Protesters are routinely rounded up in Russia!?
Oh wait, ever read or heard about occupy movement in US?
I'm European and think that many govs here, like ITaly are more brutal in rounding up protesters than Russia.
  Russia is always nice scapegoat, like China et al. When people in Western world need distractioon from their own problems, Russia et al are invoked.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (4, Informative)

wpi97 (901954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244175)

The "Occupiers" were able to protest for many days or even months in many US cities. Some were arrested for disturbing the peace or for refusing to leave after *very* long time. According to Wikipedia, the protest in Boston lasted for over 70 days. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Boston [wikipedia.org] During that time 186 people have been arrested, with NO injuries.

There is no comparison to Russia, where people have been arrested and beaten in the streets with no justification at all. Some opposition leaders have been arrested right after leaving their houses, before they even got to a protests.

On a related note, in Russia people are protesting massive election fraud by the ruling party and massive corruption in all levels of government. I am still trying to figure out what exactly the "Occupiers" in the US are protesting against.

IMHO, there is no comparison between the occupy movement in the US and the protests in Russia.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244411)

As opposed to the US, where a paramilitary team will invade your home with grenades and assault rifles if an informant claims that you are growing illegal plants there?

Helpful Explanation and Anecdote (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243345)

People need to realize that the United States has a very brutal regime in charge at the moment.

In my opinion and from experience it's not about brutality, it's about money. Sure, if they find something on you that links you to Al-Queda, you're in trouble. They'll treat you like any Allied nation would treat a Nazi war criminal. But the secondary that you're often pulled into has the primary purpose of tariffs and taxes that you might owe the government. Next on their list is export/import control of stuff like Cuban cigars or controlled substances.

So I used to be in a band and this band told me a story about how they were crossing the US-Canada border to play one show at a bar. Well, they were in their van, they had weed on them and they had all their guitars and crap and the side of their van said their band name. Well, they made up some excuse about how they were just "passing through" and after an hour of googling, the border guards determined that their intent was to play a show at a bar. They didn't have work permits and, as such, were denied entry. The weed wasn't a problem. The problem was that they were trying to go "work" at a bar and, as a result, a bar owner became very very upset with them. Guess which country's border guards did this to them? Canada's. Is Canada a "very brutal regime"? No.

What happened with the CryptoCat guy is that they asked him what he did for work and he got too specific. One of the guards apparently knows that there is export control on levels of encryption [wikipedia.org] . There was a very very famous case about this involving Phil Zimmerman and PGP [wikipedia.org] that I think has since been dropped. Of course, the guards came to the conclusion that this guy wasn't purposefully exporting high level encryption software to enemy entities. So nothing came of it after they googled for an hour.

Just because Russian border guards are lax or corrupt doesn't mean "the United States has a very brutal regime in charge at the moment." 'Brutal' means savagely violent, vicious, ruthless, or cruel ... I think the words you were looking for are arcane, ignorant, laughable, annoying, etc. If you cry wolf at the stupid stuff, nobody's going to listen to you about the genuinely bad stuff.

Re:Helpful Explanation and Anecdote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243591)

they asked him what he did for work and he got too specific.

Are you saying that border agents are only unobstructive when they don't know what's going on, and people should learn to tell border agents what they want to hear?

Sounds like Security Theater Sports, where the audience is part of the show. The points might be made up, but if only the scores didn't matter...

Re:Helpful Explanation and Anecdote (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243679)

They'll treat you like any Allied nation would treat a Nazi war criminal.

You mean, invite you to head up their space program? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wernher_von_Braun

Re:Helpful Explanation and Anecdote (1, Informative)

anwaya (574190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243851)

"Brutal" is perhaps a little extreme: "Authoritarian" may be more appropriate.

I also have an anecdote. I moved to the US in 1994, and at one time, maybe I overstayed my visa-waiver, or maybe the I-94 was lost, either by me or the airline or US Immigration. In 1995 I got an H1-B and I've had a Green Card now for over 10 years. Every time since 9/11 it's a toss-up when I go through Immigration to enter the US whether the the DHS will Select me for Secondary Screening, even though I am a legal, documented immigrant, my papers are in order, and the only flag raised has to be a tiny one, at least 16 years old. And yes, it takes the goons an hour.

Re:Helpful Explanation and Anecdote (1, Funny)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244149)

They'll treat you like any Allied nation would treat a Nazi war criminal.

They hire you? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Helpful Explanation and Anecdote (1, Insightful)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244157)

In my opinion and from experience it's not about brutality, it's about money

Since you mentioned Nazis: money was one of the factors that drove the Nazi regime too. The question in both cases is: at what point do the insane ideologists take over (look at the Republican candiates for 2012...)? So it's not like it being about money at this time means we're not going in an entirely wrong direction. Regarding "brutal" - what would you call gitmo, all the secret CIA prisons, mass killing of suspects (as ordered by the president)? It's not something that affects us at the border controls, but it's the regime's brutality nevertheless.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (4, Interesting)

wpi97 (901954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243559)

I suppose you have never heard the song by Timur Shaov about crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine...

Going back to the facts, any time you try to enter a foreign country there is a chance that you may be interrogated, or even refused entry for any reason. This does not make a regime "brutal" in any way.

On the other hand, in Russia you need a "registration" to be allowed to stay in Moscow, even if you are a Russian citizen. And police can stop you on the street and arrest you or extort money from you if you do not have the registration. You might want to ask the migrant workers from Central Asia about that. I have never heard of any sort of registration being required for staying in Washington DC or New York City.

By the way, do you own a car in Russia? How many times did you have to pay a bribe to the police?

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (1)

Lluc (703772) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243795)

I've crossed the border between Russia and just about anywhere you can think of that shares a border with Russia. I have never ever been interrogated at their border. I've even crossed the Ukrainian Moldovan border with another individual who overstayed his visa for months. They barely asked any questions even then, they just walked him to a nearby bank and had him pay a fine (the fine is paid directly to the bank to prevent the possibility of the border guard pocketing it). I even overstayed my own visa while exiting Ukraine. I didn't even miss my flight. People need to realize that the United States has a very brutal regime in charge at the moment.

Oh please! Back in the 1993 to 1997 range my family of four (father, mother, and two brothers) crossed the border from the US to Canada. One brother (~17ish years old) was taken to an office by a Canadian border guard for more than 30 minutes for questioning for no apparent reason. Does that mean that the 1990s Canadian government was very brutal?

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (1)

atisss (1661313) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243831)

You were lucky. I've been interrogated when leaving Ukraine for more than hour, just because I was foreigner and they didn't believe of where I am ( I spoke pretty good Russian). Pointless questions - how to say some words in my born language (they had answers from neighbour country, and wanted me to guess that)

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (2)

Senior Frac (110715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243913)

Asking questions is such a hostile act. I don't know how my predecesors dealt with such abuse! It's downright inhumane I tell you. Such brutality must be stamped out everywhere.

Let me follow...
Ukrainian border security underpaid, uninterested, and don't do their jobs. Therefore, this is the right way to do things.
US border security actually does something, like ask questions (omg). Therefore they're being brutal.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243561)

If you accept that as normal there is something wrong with either you or your country. This wasn't bureaucracy, it was police state tactics.

I travel from country to country all the time and have never been detained for longer than about 45 minutes, and that was just queuing. I stopped going to the US when they started treating travelers like convicts some years back. As far as I can tell instead of getting better the situation just keeps getting worse. It's a shame really as I would love to go shopping and eating in the US but I guess I just take my holiday money elsewhere.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (1)

denobug (753200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244127)

You think US border agents were bad? Try Canadian! They took longer and ask for more annoying questions!

Why is it any of their business? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243169)

It's really none of their business though is it!?

It seems border crossings have become a point at which the usual rules are thrown out of the window and anyone can be interrogated about anything. ACTA will bring border searches of iPods to that mix. It's like bend over and take it for 'security'.

Re:Why is it any of their business? (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243477)

I've heard this "they'll scan my harddrives" a lot, but I don't think it will happen. I know quite a few industrial researchers who visit the US every now and then, and their laptops have 1TB harddrives that are fully encrypted. As long as there are people who want to travel to/from the US carrying proprietary business information, harddrive inspections will never happen.

Re:Why is it any of their business? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243715)

As long as there are people who want to travel to/from the US carrying proprietary business information, harddrive inspections will never happen.

Nice try there, agent.

Have you been living under a rock? It's standard practice for many non-US companies, who value their business data, to either not to bring computers or bring them emtpy and download what you need once you've crossed the US border. This is because of existing "inspections" by border officials. The US is pretty big on industrial espionage and does so shamelessly when foreign companies are concerned.

Re:Why is it any of their business? (3, Interesting)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243919)

You are confusing the US for China.. Business here indeed have a rule of bringing only clean laptops into mainland China, since there were many incidents of hard drives being cloned by border security guards. Not so much in the US, although there have been incidents of government espionage beneficial to the US airplane manufacturers.

Re:Why is it any of their business? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244187)

It's obviously not practical to scan all, but nothing to stop them running a lottery system. Pick a small number (One in a hundred?) of laptops at random and subject them to the search machine, which would obviously have to be something simple enough to run with minimal training. Perhaps a list of SHA hashes for known 'suspicious' files like terrorist training, drugs production manuals, pirate files, DRM-breakers and pornography. All the inspector need do then is plug in the bootable USB scanner, get the device owner to hand over any passwords (Under threat of a few weeks in jail) and let it scan.

It wouldn't work, really. Any guard-safe scanner would fail on unusual configurations (Laptops running linux), or falsely detect encrypted partitions when none exist, and it's sure to get the odd false positive from the browser cache because the user once saw a thumbnail of something dodgy on google image search. But that's the great thing about it politically: It doesn't *need* to work. It just has look like it works. Any critics can be silenced by those all-powerful words: 'Protect the children.'

Re:Why is it any of their business? (2)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243531)

It seems border crossings have become a point at which the usual rules are thrown out of the window and anyone can be interrogated about anything.

Perhaps it's exactly about this. Maybe the entire idea is to terrorize ordinary people crossing the borders so these people would rather modify their own behavior, and quit exercising all those pesky freedoms.

Although I'd be hard-pressed to consider an hour-long secondary screen to be terrifying. Annoying and maddening, yes, but terrifying, no.

Re:Why is it any of their business? (1)

jason.sweet (1272826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243551)

I have never bent over and taken anything, but I'm sure it's nothing like having someone read the list of songs I listen to.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (5, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243191)

I've been pulled aside as well, took about 30 minutes of answering pointless questions. That was a random check though, or maybe the guy just didn't like my face. The question here is: was this guy singled out because of his work on CryptoCat, or was he randomly pulled out of line, with the questions arriving at some point at the work he's doing? "Why are you here? Where did you depart from? Was the trip for business or pleasure? What line of work are you in?" At this point, the guy might have brought up the crypto stuff, after which the interviewer focussed on that.

Re:Confiscated the Passport for an Hour (4, Insightful)

qbast (1265706) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243881)

My guess is that as soon as they asked even slightly related question, the guy just could not stop himself from bragging about how he helps poor oppressed citizens keep their conversations private from teh evil regime. Of course they would focus on that.

Don't like it? Stop coming here. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243071)

Seriously. It's only going to get worse.

-A.C.

Re:Don't like it? Stop coming here. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243123)

Seriously. It's only going to get worse.

-A.C.

Yeah, go to some place like the UK, where there's enough cameras on everyone that you can't drop a deuce without being filmed.

Re:Don't like it? Stop coming here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243197)

Look out everyone! It's captain cliche!

I wonder if he even knows what he's talking about, or is just a typical slashdot hive mind knee jerk comment.

May be I should have left out the 'knee' part

Re:Don't like it? Stop coming here. (1)

whargoul (932206) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243537)

Look out everyone! It's captain cliche!

I wonder if he even knows what he's talking about, or is just a typical slashdot hive mind knee jerk comment.

May be I should have left out the 'knee' part

Ditto

Re:Don't like it? Stop coming here. (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243361)

Maybe you should stop shitting in public.

Re:Don't like it? Stop coming here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243627)

I agree. It is very impressive though how they are convicting all the rioters from August last year.

DHS CS Expert. (5, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243111)

He holds 3 certifications in Word, Minesweeper, and Internet Explorer. Dont try and pull a fast one over him.

This is elegant proof that DHS is a waste of taxpayer money. 30 seconds on google would have given him more detail than any interrogation would have revealed.

Hey DHS, I'll take Director of IT position for only $290,000 a year. I cracked the secret of CryptoCat for you....

https://github.com/kaepora/cryptocat [github.com]

Everything is right there, and I did not have to waterboard anyone.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243151)

Exactly, which makes these claims highly dubious.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243161)

Because the government never does anything wrong, which is why you're all for giving it all the power it wants.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243199)

The US government had nothing to do with 9/11. It was, in fact, a perfectly executed, movie-style, master terrorist plan.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (1)

MitchDev (2526834) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243509)

A plan semi-stolen from the Pilot episode of Fox's X-File spin-off, "The Lone Gunmen"

Re:DHS CS Expert. (4, Insightful)

BlueMonk (101716) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243201)

Yeah, and if a government rep. spent just 30 seconds on Google to find an article accusing this person of espionage due to Trojans embedded in his software, which led to his arrest and imprisonment as he crossed the border, even though his software has no such defect, would your comment be, "Just talk to the guy and let him defend himself! Not everything one reads on the internet is fact, government idiots."?

Re:DHS CS Expert. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243857)

Interrogation is sometimes used to gain information. Sometimes it is used as a form of intimidation. It is also a convenient stalling tactic, during which time the government has access to your electronic devices...

I like to believe I am not paranoid, but I don't blame certain people who I consider patriotic dissenters - whistleblowers who believe in the rule of law - for choosing unpredictable locations, removing batteries from cell phones, turning off computers, and unplugging landlines when they hold private conversations.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243207)

In all fairness, that Minesweeper cert is a hard one. I'm not going to tell you how many times I failed that exam before finally passing. I mean, you never really know where to start, and often you just end up guessing and hoping you get it right.

-- AC, MCMS, Pinball Wizard

Re:DHS CS Expert. (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243619)

>> you just end up guessing and hoping you get it right

I bombed that test too.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244529)

I mean, you never really know where to start, and often you just end up guessing and hoping you get it right.

Windows minesweeper is written so that the first move can never be a mine. Try it, make a custom game with the highest minecount possible for any given size, your first move will always be a number (quite often 8 if you didn't pick a spot on the edge).
Second move's a killer though.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243217)

Perhaps the intent of the questioning was not to learn about CryptoCat but instead to verify that the developer actually was who he said he was.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (4, Interesting)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243237)

From reading the article, it sounds more like a routine stop where they ask you dozens of rather pointless questions just to keep you talking. The goal is to see if you have your story straight. They will ask the questions in such a way as to trip you up if you're not telling the truth.

Chances are they asked about what the guy does for a living and he brought up Cryptocat himself. It was an unusual security-related thing so the officer focused on that for questioning to see if he would say something suspicious.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243305)

They were probably just stalling while DHS installed keyloggers on any electronics he may have been carrying.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (5, Funny)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243959)

That is so paranoid. DHS would never stoop to such methods, and I'm sure it would take longer than an hour to get a judge to authorize such monitoring.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (1)

Howard Beale (92386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244113)

That is so paranoid. DHS would never stoop to such methods, and I'm sure it would take longer than an hour to get a judge to authorize such monitoring.

A judge? You must be new here...

Re:DHS CS Expert. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243823)

it sounds more like a routine stop

And they just happened to have a senior IT investigator with over two decades of experience at hand, at some random checkpoint? Riiiiight.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (5, Insightful)

Rostin (691447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243259)

The purpose of the interrogation wasn't to obtain information. It was intimidation. The DHS is delighted that it's receiving so much attention, too. It puts foreigners on notice that if they create software, protocols, or whatever which the US government finds inconvenient, they risk retaliatory harassment at the border should they choose to visit.

So, while I agree that a lot of what the DHS (and many other three-letter government agencies) does is a waste of money, I think it's also much worse than that.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243505)

Very unlikely. It is more likely the guy made up the story to gain publicity for his app.

Hey! If the gov't is trying to quash my app, it must be really awesome!

Re:DHS CS Expert. (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243967)

t the DHS (and many other three-letter government agencies) does is a waste of money, I think it's also much worse than that.

Security is serious business (and money) and the DHS, TSA do a great job inciting anti-americanism and thus keeping the money flowing to the right corporations. The USA got rich by being a free country, now they (well, some) get even richer by doing the opposite. Isn't capitalism great?

Re:DHS CS Expert. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243265)

"This is elegant proof that DHS is a waste of taxpayer money. 30 seconds on google would have given him more detail than any interrogation would have revealed."

You're assuming their intent was to gain knowledge rather than harrass and intimidate.

They blundered at the former, but were quite successful at the latter.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (2)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243337)

Sorry sir, but your application has been denied. If we followed your suggestions we would not need to horas, torture, or bother anyone. Then everyone would forget what DHS stands, we would loose funding and become an irrelevant agency like BATF.

Again thank you for your time, please see BOB on the way our for your complementary cavity search.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244699)

Sorry sir, but your application has been denied. If we followed your suggestions we would not need to horas, torture, or bother anyone.

The inhumanity of it, applying horas to people! Usually they render the suspects to Israel for that, because hardly anyone in the US knows how to do a proper hora. "Talk, you worm! Or we'll make you dance it again!"

Re:DHS CS Expert. (1)

eam (192101) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243423)


Everything is right there, and I did not have to waterboard anyone.

Yeah, but if you take the job, you'd be required to waterboard someone.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (2)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243449)

Honestly, it sounds more like a routine stop where the guard was just curious. The questions about types of algorithms and censorship resistance are the sorts of questions I'd expect from someone who (personally) hadn't heard of it but thought it sounded pretty cool. Imagine if you were a nerd and somebody told you they worked on a crypto system you'd never heard of - what questions would you ask? I know I would ask similar questions, not for anything nefarious but just because being a border guard must be intensely boring and it'd be interesting to talk about.

Re:DHS CS Expert. (2)

Shirogitsune (1810950) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243555)

Are...are you a wizard? :B

Re:DHS CS Expert. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243879)

Where's the fun in that

Why did he get interrogated in the first place? (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243245)

Did they question him, because he was a crypto developer? Or did they stop him for some other reason, and ask about his profession?

FTFA:

A developer of an encrypted chat program is making some dramatic claims. Nadim Kobeissi, developer of Cryptocat which “lets you instantly set up secure conversations.

There is your answer right there.

Re:Why did he get interrogated in the first place? (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243317)

Secondary screening is like jury duty. There are "spaces" to fill and periodically you get called. If you fit a particular profile, your chances of getting called increase.

Re:Why did he get interrogated in the first place? (3, Informative)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243481)

There is your answer right there.

Actually he is not only arabic, his background ( for which I could be mistaken ) is shiite muslim ( but he may not be religious ). In lebanon, the largest shiite parties are anti-american like Hizbollah and Amal.

Re:Why did he get interrogated in the first place? (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243649)

Actually he is not only arabic, his background ( for which I could be mistaken ) is shiite muslim ( but he may not be religious ). In lebanon, the largest shiite parties are anti-american like Hizbollah and Amal.

Yay! Guilt by vague association!

Pretty soon we can execute people on innuendo too!

--
BMO

Re:Why did he get interrogated in the first place? (3, Interesting)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243737)

While we should give them the benefit of the doubt because it might very well be a pure coincidence. However when I think about my own experience, I can't help and refute that. I have been "randomly" chosen so many times, that now I think they have a very biased random screening process. I almost get picked for extra screening almost every time I travel ( and I do travel frequently ). My background could be a factor, I come from the same country as our crypto friend, but from the north and if you were following the news lately there have been a lot of it in the city of Tripoly ( the city where I grew up in ). And we have some extremist that you can comfortably link them to Al-Qaeda.

Re:Why did he get interrogated in the first place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243853)

He was found *guilty*? Of what? Was he convicted? I seem to have missed that part.

Re:Why did he get interrogated in the first place? (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243669)

Because there isn't export bans on certain types of encryption from the US, right?

Re:Why did he get interrogated in the first place? (2)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243759)

Yet he lives and works in Canada.

Re:Why did he get interrogated in the first place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40244329)

If you cross the border on a regular basis (I did for 4 years during med school) you will get stopped sometimes. It has nothing to do with what you do or what your name is. Sometimes they just want to stop you, look at your stuff talk to you and run your passport. It is just the way it is. It burns an hour or two and makes you feel like a criminal. It is standard that they take your documents while you are waiting though. I think this is a non story.

Interrogation probably just a delaying tactic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243255)

If his electronic possessions left his sight for more than thirty minutes, I guaran-fuckin'-tee you they were imaged and are currently being combed for information on how to read conversations conducted through the encrypted chat service.

Re:Interrogation probably just a delaying tactic (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243281)

Perhaps his electronic possessions were encrypted, he seems good at that sort of stuff...

Nice attempt at paranoia, but not terribly well thought out.

Re:Interrogation probably just a delaying tactic (3, Informative)

shogun (657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243391)

If they think he's carrying around a simple solution to breaking AES256 in a timely manner maybe they did fail the minesweeper cert after all..

Re:Interrogation probably just a delaying tactic (2)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243703)

Yeah, when the US government learns what encryption is used, they'll crack your code in no less than it the time it takes to brute-force a 128 bit secret-key cipher. (Curve25519 is the algorithm used.) Seriously, learn some cryptography before commenting on cryptography. The following is Burt Kaliski's description of how hard it is to crack this encryption:

Imagine a computer that is the size of a grain of sand that can test keys against some encrypted data. Also imagine that it can test a key in the amount of time it takes light to cross it. Then consider a cluster of these computers, so many that if you covered the earth with them, they would cover the whole planet to the height of 1 meter. The cluster of computers would crack a 128-bit key on average in 1,000 years.

A couple of points (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243277)

Obviously the "authorities" knew who he was, what he did and what his plans were.

Secondly, they knew he was coming and had someone with "22 years of computer experience" ready. That means that they arranged for someone to be there when he crossed the border.

So it seems he's under surveilance and they know what he's up to. If they really wanted to take him out, they would have just arrested him once he was in the US and really do a number on him. This looks like scare tactics. Whatever the outcome, Kobeissi will be a bit more paranoid and after dealing with the stress of this incident for a few months, may enter a different realm in app development.

The Canadian government will not intervene as the US can question anyone they want before they let them in their country. If one doesn't like it, one doesn't enter the US.

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Re: http://www.clothes8.org (1)

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I was detained coming into Canada from the US (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243437)

Try going into Canada as an IT contract worker. They take the attitude that you are stealing Canadian jobs and they often try to make entry a very annoying process. This once included a two hour questioning by immigration agents where they wanted to know every detail of my stay, my contract, etc. The hell of it was, the contract at that time was with the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency. This even extends to shipping equipment into Canada, we had electronic signage held for weeks at a time and sometimes even rejected (when the exact same item was cleared for another customer). Things may have change recently, I haven't worked in Canada for 4-5 years but don't assume that just the U.S. can be jerks.

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happens all the time (0)

0xdeaddead (797696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243611)

I wish I could say more, but you know chilling effect.

Re:happens all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243685)

That's what AC posts from a public location with a spoofed MAC are for...

Source (2)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40243883)

Is there any source for this aside from random Twitter posts? I generally trust ZeroPaid, but come on - this entire story is built on the basis of a few Tweets.

Cryptocat != cat-copter (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40243999)

I was wondering why the border folks were interested in the cat-copter :)

Confused DHS CBS (1)

JordanArendt (164158) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244139)

If he was coming into Canada from the US, then it would Canadian Border Services "interigating" him, would it not? It would not be DHS. So, I am thinking this might be some way to gain attention to his product.

22 Years Experience ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244281)

... and the interrogator still doesn't know that one can just download the source of an open source application and examine it. Without having to subject the developer to the third degree*?

* Well, OK. Sometimes that's what it takes to get O/S developers to comment their code.

Re:22 Years Experience ... (1)

darkstar949 (697933) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244629)

Depending upon how large the application is, it is generally faster to just ask a developer what sort of algorithms are in it as opposed to sitting down and reading through the source yourself. Same applies to pretty much any large code base when you want basic factual knowledge of it as opposed to implementation details.

Not about Cryptocat? (2)

djshaffer (595950) | more than 2 years ago | (#40244305)

I suspect their interest in him did not originate from Cryptocat, but instead from his support for WikiLeaks (including at one time having a WikiLeaks mirror).
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