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NZ Traveler's Electronics Taken At Airport; Interest in Snowden to Blame?

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the purely-random-searching dept.

Privacy 453

An anonymous reader writes "A New Zealand backpacker stripped of all electrical equipment at Auckland airport suggests attending a London talk on cyber-security following the Edward Snowden leaks may be to blame. Samuel Blackman was returning home for Christmas on 11 December from London Heathrow to Auckland via San Francisco when a customs officer at his final destination took the law graduate's two smartphones, iPad, external hard drive and laptop, demanding the passwords for all devices." For a quieter version, see also The New Zealand Herald.

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First (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669781)

Obligatory LotR comment.

Re:First (4, Insightful)

rlp (11898) | about 8 months ago | (#45669965)

Looks like Saruman is now running The Shire.

Re:First Nigger! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670059)

I'm the one
that cums around
to post for you cunts
just to say
NIGGERS!! COONS!! JIGABOOS!!!

Mod me down, I command you! Do my bidding you sheep!

Highway Robbery (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669801)

It is baffling how easily civilization reverts to medieval behaviors.

Re:Highway Robbery (-1, Troll)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45670091)

I want to know where Obama's "checks and balances" were in this situation.

Re:Highway Robbery (2, Informative)

TallGuy (12087) | about 8 months ago | (#45670133)

Seeing how this happened in New Zealand, probably thousands of miles across the sea?

Re:Highway Robbery (3, Insightful)

JustOK (667959) | about 8 months ago | (#45670217)

One's reach does not end at one's finger tips.

Re:Highway Robbery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670281)

Wait, so we can blame Obama for things that low-level employees of the New Zealand government does, too?

Thanks, Obama!

Re:Highway Robbery (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 8 months ago | (#45670427)

Is it Obamaruman or Obamauron?

Re:Highway Robbery (4, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#45670429)

It's weird to me how Obama does all sorts of terrible things(most of which aren't new, but that's no excuse), but his primary antagonists seem to always be presenting the most discredited or irrelevant nonsense as defining evidence of his totalitarianism.

Re:Highway Robbery (5, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 8 months ago | (#45670627)

This, this, a thousand times this! Why the fuck do the the talk radio assholes blather on ad nauseum excoriating Obama for Obamacare when they could be calling him a totalitarian traitor to the Constitution instead?

(The answer, of course, is that the Republicans (and Democrats) are perfectly okay with totalitarianism.)

Re:Highway Robbery (3, Insightful)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 8 months ago | (#45670775)

It's a combination of false flag trolling and people who have something to gain from shitting all over the rival team without also pointing out all the things that their own team is philosophically fine with doing, and does do on a regular basis.

Re:Highway Robbery (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670727)

Yeah I was recently thinking how the "free world" nowadays is starting to seem not so different from the bad old days and messed up countries where Kings/Dictators could mostly do whatever they wanted - imprison, kill and torture whoever they want, seize whatever property they want. In those countries most people were usually safe if they kept a low profile and "followed the rules".

Same goes for the "free world" it seems. Yeah everyone has the freedom to say bad things about Obama etc. But see what happens if you considered a threat- Assange, Snowden, Poitras ( http://www.salon.com/2012/04/08/u_s_filmmaker_repeatedly_detained_at_border/ [salon.com] ). Heck even Kim Dotcom.

So maybe the real difference is in the free world the real rulers don't care about petty name calling, esp if it's targeted at puppets with term limits. Whereas Dictators and Kings are apparently more sensitive to that stuff.

Not surprised (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669835)

the natzi err national government here has been a US lapdog for years (and our pm was born in the US)...

Re:Not surprised (1)

shikaisi (1816846) | about 8 months ago | (#45670195)

(and our pm was born in the US)...

You mean your unidentified guest?

Double secret probation (5, Insightful)

sandbagger (654585) | about 8 months ago | (#45669839)

We'll take your stuff, which you possibly use for your business or work, and won't tell you why, or for how long.

There need to be laws and yes, intelligence agencies, but barring a crime, this ends up being bad PR.

The Whole Issue (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669991)

The whole issue is contained in the US Constitution where it says,

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." - Amendment 4.

This needs to be a universal human rights declaration world wide and it needs to be a condition where no government is tolerated forcing people to give up their computers or their passwords. In the mean time anyone taking a computer on international travel is an idiot! We also need that every computer has a kill password where it is reset to factory default condition and the disk is wiped with a single password. You just give the government demanding your password the kill password and the game is over for them. Every OS should contain this in the future.

Re:The Whole Issue (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670063)

What drug of choice makes you think a global declaration based on USC 4A would be enforced world-wide when it already isn't/i) even enforced in the US now?

Re:The Whole Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670141)

You just give the government demanding your password the kill password and the game is over for you.

FTFY. What, did you honestly expect them to just let you go at that point? For right or wrong, they could easily charge you with destruction of evidence at that point.

What you should do instead, is put a sticker on the bottom of the laptop that lists a username and password. Only instead of your real password, it's the kill password. And then you say nothing (as is your right as an FSM-damned American) when they ask for the password. Though having said all that, they could probably come up with a way to make an anti-boobytrap law stick at that point. So better to just encrypt and say nothing.

Re:The Whole Issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670285)

Standard forensic procedure is to keep everything in the condition it was in as far as possible. This includes removing drives and imaging them and working on images, and if your home is raided, and they anticipate you might be set up to destroy data on shutdown/loss of power, even going so far as to bring a generator along.

Re:The Whole Issue (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670743)

The whole issue is contained in the US Constitution where it says,

Note to all retards who skimmed the summary and didn't read the article:

This happened in New Zealand, not in the United States. The U.S. Constitution has absolutely fucking nothing to do with this because it didn't happen in the United States.

Re:Double secret probation (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 8 months ago | (#45670409)

However, a Customs official has since told him they were searching everything for objectionable material under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

Blackman said of course he didn't have anything like that. But if he had any porn at all, it's perfectly possible he did have "objectionable material". That's why I keep all my porn in a Truecrypt container. Even if I'm obliged to hand over my password to my device, they can't find anything objectionable (they can, I've got shit loads of political material that advocates the execution of all their ilk, but that's probably not what they are looking for) .

Also, bet there would a law about how long they can hold the stuff for. A week or two I'm sure.

Re:Double secret probation (3, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 8 months ago | (#45670495)

I would actually never store porn on my computer anyway. What's the point in that? There is so much porn on the Internet available, there is simply no reason to keep it on my computer.

Re:Double secret probation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670619)

Suuure, give them a Trucrypt container. They know what it is too. I've got my nice comfy holding cell right here for you, bread and water for a week until you give me the OTHER password. We're talking potentially hostile governments--not your kid sister--who likely have people equally as smart as anyone here on hand, if they really want to dig into you. Oh you don't HAVE another password? Well, we can't be sure, so we're going to hold you for a week and then kick you out of the country.

All this advice about carrying encrypted shit--are you guys from the NSA? Because carrying encrypted shit on you is a really bad idea. Lots of attention. There's safer ways to retrieve your encrypted data once you pass the checkpoint, like grabbing an SSH client at a public Wi-Fi hotspot and using a memorized password. If you're worried about compromise of the server, run it in a locked down VM with only the stuff you anticipate needing.

I Viviidly Remember... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669847)

taking the piss out of the Soviet Union, the Iron Curtain satellites nations and their citizens for the entire "Papers, please!" nonsense that occured whilst I was growing up in the 70s-80s. Is this crow I taste?

Re:I Viviidly Remember... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669871)

Our lords have found a new enemy, and it's us.

Re:I Viviidly Remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670541)

New? From time to time other lords were opponents or allies, but the enemy has always been us.

Re:I Viviidly Remember... (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 8 months ago | (#45670329)

Yes. Yes it is. It is crow. It's capitalist crow. Now pay for that taste or I shall summon the authorities!

Figures (3, Interesting)

redmid17 (1217076) | about 8 months ago | (#45669893)

And my girlfriend wonders why I encrypt and password protect my phone and laptop. "Give us your password." "No" "We won't let you back in the US." "Um you can't do that to a US citizen." They might confiscate the electronics. Luckily I have the ability to work without the laptop I travel with, and I'm not a fan of this kind of political intimidation. I can't be bothered to do the same to my Kindle Fire though. Unless they want my recently watched shows of netflix, a couple of ebooks (paradise lost, GOT), or my browser history of ESPN and google news, they aren't going to find much.

Re:Figures (5, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 8 months ago | (#45670009)

Here in the UK, refusal to give a password to the police upon request is itsself a crime.

Re:Figures (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670079)

Not many countries are worth traveling to these days but the UK and the US are probably on my bottom 10 list for reasons like this.

Re:Figures (0)

redmid17 (1217076) | about 8 months ago | (#45670235)

Luckily it's not a crime in the United States.

Re:Figures (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 8 months ago | (#45670263)

Yet.

Re:Figures (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670575)

Pfft. Since when did you have to commit a crime in the US for the authorities to confiscate / destroy your stuff, detain you, assault you, disappear you, torture you, put you in solitary, ship you off to Syria or execute you via drone from 5000 miles away?

Re:Figures (1)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 8 months ago | (#45670277)

At least in some countries, it isn't that you have to give the password, it's that you have to give the password if it's for an investigation. So the police can't just say "hand it over", they have to say "hand it over, because we are investigation this that and the other". Not that I want to defend that sort of shit of course.

I just had a look at part III of RIPA, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/23/contents [legislation.gov.uk] and can't understand it. But it does look like it's not necessary to have any actual good reason.

Re:Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670367)

Here in the UK, refusal to give a password to the police upon request is itsself a crime.

No. Refusal to give a password in response to a court order is a crime. A police request alone is not enough.

Re:Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670667)

You are both wrong. A chief constable (for example) can issue you with such an order. But the order must have a specific form and you have time to comply or appeal. Nobody can demand your passwords on the spot.

Re:Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670395)

The only place worse than the US is the UK.

Re:Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670683)

Well, you live in the country that oppressed Paul Revere, so what do you expect?

Re:Figures (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 8 months ago | (#45670029)

I can't be bothered to do the same to my Kindle Fire though. Unless they want my recently watched shows of netflix, a couple of ebooks (paradise lost, GOT), or my browser history of ESPN and google news, they aren't going to find much.

At this point, I consider all Android or iOS (but especially Android) devices untrusted. The only way to trust an Android device would be to use one where the main processor is not subordinate to the modem processor and where you have loaded something like Replicant on it yourself.

(Even traditional x86 PCs might be iffy these days, given the possibility of backdoors in TPMs, CPU microcode or ancillary chips.)

Re:Figures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670135)

the main processor is not subordinate to the modem processor

huh?

Re:Figures (5, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 8 months ago | (#45670347)

See http://www.androidauthority.com/smartphones-have-a-second-os-317800/ [androidauthority.com]

Cellphones have two processors, a main processor (running an open-source OS in the case of Android) and a baseband processor built into the modem chip (running a closed-source OS in all cases). The baseband processor can be used to hack the phone. For a phone to be truly secure, you need a firewall between the main memory and the baseband processor, and AFAIK no phone is designed that way (except this one [cryptophone.de] ).

Re:Figures (5, Informative)

Hizonner (38491) | about 8 months ago | (#45670379)

In a phone, the GSM modem has its own CPU (and its own memory).

Most phones are based on SoCs (Systems on a Chip); everything's interconnected on the same silicon. Usually the GSM modem processor has access to the memory and I/O busses of the main processor (but not the other way around), can reset the main processor, and often boots before the main processor and must explicitly turn on the main processor before it runs. I believe that in some designs the modem processor actually sets up the boot loader for the main processor as well. The modem processor can definitely rewrite the flash where the main processor's operating system is stored.

The result of this is that the modem has total control of the phone. It can do anything it wants to any data on the phone, including the internals of the main OS, and there's basically nothing the main processor can do about it other than maybe be too obscure and complicated to manipulate easily.

The firmware in the modem is invariably closed source and secret. The modem will only boot firmware that's crypto-signed by the manufacturer, and anyway the hardware is totally undocumented.

The modems have "over the air" command sets that let the carrier manipulate the phone remotely without going through the main OS. Those command sets can be very rich... and can include the ability to reflash the main OS, or even to peek and poke its memory while it's running.

So on most (all?) phones, it basically doesn't matter what your OS is. The carrier (possibly together with the SoC manufacturer) can do whatever it wants if it's willing to figure out the complexity of doing so. And of course governments lean on carriers and SoC manufacturers to get access to that capability, and commercial "partners" also have influence.

Re:Figures (4, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45670181)

...my girlfriend...

Hah! You NSA boys have a got to learn about blending in on teh internets.

Re:Figures (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670355)

The real solution is to travel with an unencrypted drive, with a stock install of something boring (Windows is particularly good for this), along with some innocuous garbage to dirty it up. When you get to your destination, you download something like PuTTY, SFTP/SSH back home, grab your stuff, even VPN software if you want. Heck, to avoid even having to grab anything "suspicious" on download, you can set up VSFTPD with an anonymous FTP locked down to one chroot'd directory to retrieve PuTTY from. Bonus points if you shovel them online to some third-party hosting site instead of your own server. There's a million and one ways to do this, but it all boils down to cutting the links between your real life and the equipment you carry. Same applies to visiting hostile locations: carry only "normal" stuff. Nothing else. Purchase what you need on the other side and throw it away before you come back. It shouldn't have to be like this, but welcome to the modern world.

The lesson in this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669899)

is NEVER carry sensitive information on you when entering an international airport. Use a clean computer/ personal devices when traveling and access all sensitive data in encrypted form from remote servers. Smartphones are a no-no unless they are cleaned of all personal info.. and he had 2 of them..and a tablet as well! Sounds like he was carrying his whole life with him!

By smart. Carry a minimum of gadgets thru the airport. It'll save you the embarrassment and cost of replacing your equipment as well as sharing your most intimate details with the minions of the state. If you really need to carry something, MicroSD cards are your friend!

Re:The lesson in this (5, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45669947)

The lesson in this is NEVER carry sensitive information on you when entering an international airport.

That's not the lesson at all. This guy probably didn't have any sensitive information but that didn't stop his devices getting nicked.

The only people with lessons to learn are not the travellers but the security services unreasonably targetting them. Unfortunately, they're not interested in lessons.

Re:The lesson in this (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 8 months ago | (#45670279)

But how can anyone be sure that "sensitive" information won't be planted on his devices? Can I trust someone who steals my stuff to not frame me?

Encrypting everything might make it harder to plant something on the laptop in a convincing manner, but it might increase the odds of your stuff being stolen by them.

Re:The lesson in this (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670359)

The lesson everyone is supposed to get is "Be afraid". It's not yet "Be very afraid", but just wait and we'll get there. So this guy was in a meeting where the Guardian editor Rusbridger was present. Perhaps that fact was what the intelligence services used to tag this guy as suspicious? If so this is sending a signal that you shouldn't be too (physically or intellectually) close to people like Rusbridger. This is a classic case of a "chilling effect" in action. If this isn't what the security services want, then they are stupidly incompetent. If it's what they want they are dangerously oppressive.

There doesn't seem to be any pleasant solution to this equation.

Re:The lesson in this (2)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about 8 months ago | (#45669979)

Indeed. USB stick with "insert favorite linux version" installed, and just enough things to allow you to SSH home and access whatever you need (VNC for the GUI stuff). Make sure the USB stick is read-only, no personal stuff whatsoever stored on it, and password-protect the SSH key.

Re:The lesson in this (2)

Iceykitsune (1059892) | about 8 months ago | (#45670375)

Indeed. USB stick with "insert favorite linux version" installed, and just enough things to allow you to SSH home and access whatever you need (VNC for the GUI stuff). Make sure the USB stick is read-only, no personal stuff whatsoever stored on it, and memorise the SSH key.

FTFY

Re:The lesson in this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670481)

Having a password protected SSH key on you is as good as game over. They can coerce you to reveal the password in most places because it's encrypted data, and do you really want to be turning over the key to your server? Don't carry those kind of tools/information with you. Dump them online somewhere and download them when you get there. You want to blend in as far as possible, and carrying a USB stick with linux on it and an SSH key is a big "HEY LOOKIT ME" to a forensic investigator. We're not talking about keeping your kid sister out here, we're talking about dealing with potentially hostile governments. You need to make it impossible for you to give them anything--at least anything they could think to try and coerce out of you. Anything you DO carry, you should be 100% prepared to hand over.

Re:The lesson in this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670577)

thats why i carry a usb stick with my favorite version of linux on it and nothing else other than cute cat pictures..

OTOH all of this would be great for exhibitionists, fill said usb with encrypted version of linux and multiple pictures of owners junk, then the investigator gets in shit for viewing porn at the office!

Re:The lesson in this (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45670103)

is NEVER carry sensitive information on you when entering an international airport. Use a clean computer/ personal devices when traveling and access all sensitive data in encrypted form from remote servers.

That's only of you've got data to hide.

Apparently they can steal your gadgets even without that.

iDevices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669917)

That's why I've enabled wipe my device after 10 password attempts on all of my devices. I imagine I would be very nervous and shaky as I tried to unlock them.

Re:iDevices (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 8 months ago | (#45669961)

Add knowingly destroying evidence to the charge.

Re:iDevices (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 8 months ago | (#45670405)

They can't know it's evidence.

Re:iDevices (1)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about 8 months ago | (#45669989)

Remember: remote wipe without a foolproof and frequently used backup strategy is a very very bad idea.

Re:iDevices (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670685)

More crap advice. You do realize that standard forensic procedure is to image anything that might potentially be destroyed before something like this is tried? Maybe they can't image the chip storing your key to decrypt, but do you want to make bets on backdoors in mobile devices these days?

Re:iDevices (3, Informative)

Andrewkov (140579) | about 8 months ago | (#45670759)

I quickly turned off that feature when I found my 4 year old playing with my phone. She was 2 attempts away from wiping it!

Ok, so... (5, Interesting)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 8 months ago | (#45669921)

I guess the next step in this array of bullshit is for random folks to dress up like cops, secret service, airport authorities or any other scheme that fits the area, and detain people randomly and take their stuff. If enough people do this, then maybe people will remember why the fuck laws exist at all, and why the legal authorities have rules to follow as well. If we all allow for mere mankind to represent the universal authority (unquestionable authority; same authority that makes gravity a "law") then we're all doomed, as mankind is not fit for such authority.

Re:Ok, so... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670365)

It won't work. The authorities will just lock you up and call you a criminal. The irony will go right over most people's heads.

Re:Ok, so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670615)

We werent really stealing, Officer, we were being ironic! Dont you get it?

The ultimate cipher buster.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669927)

...the gun.

all your passwords are belong to us.

Sauron's spies are everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669971)

Best to stick to the ground and not use any Eagles for assistance.

The leaks are to blame!? (4, Insightful)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 8 months ago | (#45669983)

Don't play that game.

know your rights (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 8 months ago | (#45669995)

What are your rights then this happens? I guess you need to know all the laws on a country by country by nationality by nationality basis.
How about for a UK citizen getting back into he UK.
Think I'll stay at home.

Re:know your rights (5, Informative)

sirkumi (1752188) | about 8 months ago | (#45670227)

Sadly I don't think you have any rights - at least not in Australia [itnews.com.au] - where I come from, and which has very similar customs laws to those of New Zealand.

It would appear that they can take any and all of your electronic devices and storage equipment [customs.gov.au] - including laptops, smartphones, usb keys - and they don't have to explain why or state what "reasonable suspicion" they have that you might have something illegal. On the whim of the customs officer, they can keep it for 14 days, or longer if they feel they have cause to.

At most all you can do is lodge a complaint...

Expected in United Soviet States of America (-1, Offtopic)

HansKloss (665474) | about 8 months ago | (#45670021)

With Cold War over 'ol US is the new capital of totalitarian regimes.
Coming over you will
- get shot
- get imprisoned
- become slave

This is daily "American Nightmare" for 300mln of people living there.

Sigh (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45670031)

I try to take an almost ridiculously reasonable and neutral stance on most things. For example, I'd like to believe that, actually, this guy might be reasonably suspected of being a "cyber-terrorist" by the powers-that-be and the fact that he attended a cyber-security lecture is correlated to, but not direct causation for, his being stopped.

I'd like to believe that...

Re:Sigh (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 8 months ago | (#45670157)

In this world you cannot be both ridiculously reasonable and neutral on most things.

Alright, New Zealand is on the list, too (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670041)

The list of countries you shouldn't travel to if you don't want to be detained and would like to keep your stuff: US, England, New Zealand.

Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670043)

So, let me get this straight.

Some guy got all his electronics confiscated by New Zealand customs.

The only thing the customs guy would say is that they were looking for illegal/indecent media. I'll paraphrase as child porn.

The only possible conclusion is that it is the jack booted actions of an oppressive government retaliating for attending some Snowden related event?

I guess it's possible, but based on the evidence, it seems like a stretch.

P.S. Does New Zealand law require that you produce your passwords? They probably won;t like that all my passwords are EatShitClown!

Re:Wow! (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 8 months ago | (#45670209)

The only possible conclusion is that it is the jack booted actions of an oppressive government retaliating for attending some Snowden related event?

Patternicity [scientificamerican.com] .

Why not take semen samples too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670085)

Seriously, wait till they start charging people on the spot with copyright infringement.

Go ahead, take my stuff (1)

DFDumont (19326) | about 8 months ago | (#45670097)

My personal laptop is setup to wipe itself if you fail to give the correct credentials enough times. "No" you may not have my password, or better yet, "Password99" Try using that one a few times ;-)
Of course there are things like Google Docs, so there isn't anything on the machine itself. I can stop at a store on the way home from the airport, pick up a cheap replacement and be back in business in the time it takes to logon to a hotspot.
And I don't have anything to hide. This whole process was setup when I lost a machine a while back. The machine is now immaterial.
So go ahead and take my 'portal'. You'll get nothing, and I'll be in touch with my lawyer before you can even attempt a second login.

Re:Go ahead, take my stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670291)

Sorry, I moderated a few posts so now I'm an AC.

You think these officials are stupid and wouldn't first make a copy before trying to crack it?

--
Teun

Re:Go ahead, take my stuff (5, Interesting)

magic maverick (2615475) | about 8 months ago | (#45670297)

Google Docs. Lol. You may as well just print your shit off and hand it to the authorities directly. In fact, print it off, and fax it to the national police forces of all the major anglophone countries (including NZ). Because if they want it, they'll get it from Google anyway.

Re:Go ahead, take my stuff (0)

DFDumont (19326) | about 8 months ago | (#45670603)

Example my friend, not actual. I'm not an idiot.

Re:Go ahead, take my stuff (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 8 months ago | (#45670583)

the article said the guy was a lawyer or pre-law or graduate, at least.

if they mess with him, you think your 'lawyer friend' is really going to have any say in the matter?

this kind of thing convinces me more than ever that if I need anything with data on it (beyond music players) I'll have it shipped to my destination and back.

"Give us your passwords" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670105)

"Go fuck yourself!"

I'm sure there is more to this story (0, Troll)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 8 months ago | (#45670159)

I am a US citizen and I've dealt with US customs before, but not New Zealand customs. In my experience, customs generally has no interest in your phone and laptop if you are truly a Joe Backpacker kind of guy. They are very interested in you if they think you are trying to smuggle drugs or something else. A couple of years ago I got back from a trip to China to visit my girlfriend and the guy I talked to at Customs at the US airport became convinced that I was smuggling Chinese herbs, so he made me go to a special line so my luggage could get examined. I was a bit amused as I knew they would find nothing as I brought no herbs of any kind with me and very few souvenirs of the trip. The guy who examined my luggage actually got annoyed because he found nothing. I was immediately allowed to leave with my luggage. I am sure that there is much more to this story than the backpacker is telling because he knows that Customs probably had a very good reason to be interested in him. For example, he may have worked with Wikileaks, been in contact with Snowden, or have some other non-Snowden issue that caused Customs to be very interested in him. In fact, don't be surprised if we get more information and it actually has nothing to do with Snowden because he transited through San Francisco and apparently US Customs had no interest in him. If US Customs felt that he was a source of useful information about Snowden, they'd have confiscated his electronics there. I'm pretty sure that New Zealand customs does not randomly target backpackers for confiscation of electronics and this is not an example of a police state gone mad. I'm sure he knows the real reason they took his stuff and he doesn't want to mention it because he wants to play the "I'm being singled out for nothing!" angle to the press right now.

Re:I'm sure there is more to this story (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670333)

You post is interesting but lacks whitespace. I will not be subscribing to your newsletter.

Re:I'm sure there is more to this story (1, Insightful)

jittles (1613415) | about 8 months ago | (#45670363)

he transited through San Francisco and apparently US Customs had no interest in him. If US Customs felt that he was a source of useful information about Snowden, they'd have confiscated his electronics there. I'm pretty sure that New Zealand customs does not randomly target backpackers for confiscation of electronics and this is not an example of a police state gone mad. I'm sure he knows the real reason they took his stuff and he doesn't want to mention it because he wants to play the "I'm being singled out for nothing!" angle to the press right now.

The international terminal of the airport is not considered to be part of the US. Until you try to leave the terminal area, you do not need to pass through customs. If all he did was change flights, he likely did not go through US customs at all. It is possible that they became interested in him at US Customs though and asked the NZ customs officials to detain him.

Re:I'm sure there is more to this story (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670555)

This is not correct. The international terminal is most certainly considered part of the US. You land, your checked bags gets re-screend, and you pass through customs.

Re:I'm sure there is more to this story (2)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 8 months ago | (#45670413)

I hope you're right. However the article isn't pointing out what was done and why. It's pointing out that they never told him why, didn't allow him any of his entitled legal rights, and took his stuff for no apparent reason. It's the kind of thing that is happening a lot around the world (remember when they forced the president of Bolivia to land his presidential plane?

Re:I'm sure there is more to this story (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670679)

[quote]I am a US citizen and I've dealt with US customs before, but not New Zealand customs. In my experience, customs generally has no interest in your phone and laptop if you are truly a Joe Backpacker kind of guy. They are very interested in you if they think you are trying to smuggle drugs or something else. A couple of years ago I got back from a trip to China to visit my girlfriend and the guy I talked to at Customs at the US airport became convinced that I was smuggling Chinese herbs, so he made me go to a special line so my luggage could get examined. I was a bit amused as I knew they would find nothing as I brought no herbs of any kind with me and very few souvenirs of the trip. The guy who examined my luggage actually got annoyed because he found nothing. I was immediately allowed to leave with my luggage. I am sure that there is much more to this story than the backpacker is telling because he knows that Customs probably had a very good reason to be interested in him. For example, he may have worked with Wikileaks, been in contact with Snowden, or have some other non-Snowden issue that caused Customs to be very interested in him. In fact, don't be surprised if we get more information and it actually has nothing to do with Snowden because he transited through San Francisco and apparently US Customs had no interest in him. If US Customs felt that he was a source of useful information about Snowden, they'd have confiscated his electronics there. I'm pretty sure that New Zealand customs does not randomly target backpackers for confiscation of electronics and this is not an example of a police state gone mad. I'm sure he knows the real reason they took his stuff and he doesn't want to mention it because he wants to play the "I'm being singled out for nothing!" angle to the press right now.[/quote]

TL;DR:

"Once, I went through an airport and didn't get stopped or anything, so this guy is obviously just a whiny crybaby communo-muslim-pedofascistic terrorist. I mean, they wouldn't stop him if he wasn't guilty of something, would they?"

Re:I'm sure there is more to this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670707)

Yeah, when the government searches someone, we should assume they're guilty of something.

Maybe he was one of those long hairs. He probably picked on kids when he was in high school. Or maybe he was bullied in high school, and he was looking to cause trouble in revenge. Maybe he isn't wearing his American flag pin, or mentioned French fries instead of freedom fries. Maybe he wrote computer programs, or posted something anti-Kiwi on his blogs. This guy must have stepped out of line because the government never stops and frisks anyone without probable cause.

Re:I'm sure there is more to this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670755)

Or maybe, and probably more likely, he just looked at the customs agent the wrong way.

Detained in AKL but not SFO? (4, Insightful)

Kagato (116051) | about 8 months ago | (#45670251)

The biggest surprise here is this happened in AKL instead of SFO. There is no transit freedom in the united states. If you're connecting you need to clear US customs and immigration and then re-check into your connecting flight. So if this was really a US demanded search one would think the phones and electronics would have been taken in SFO.

Re:Detained in AKL but not SFO? (3, Insightful)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 8 months ago | (#45670371)

I was thinking the same thing. It may have been due to certain freedoms that remain in the US that are not there in Auckland. Or that Auckland is now another US lap-pet. Hell, look at what they did to Kim Dotcom.

s/snowden/political dissent (3, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about 8 months ago | (#45670259)

governments in general dont need to care about what particular policy or procedure to which one may object or find questionable. random crackdowns like this one on dissent are designed to impart a chilling effect that would discourage any challenge to a plutocratic united states governing policy. The take-home lesson of this hardship the government wishes you to embrace is that questioning the war on terror, its means or its methods, is absolutely forbidden.

but why? in america heart disease, obesity, cancer, and car accidents kill more people by the day than terrorism has ever aspired to. but these afformentioned blights on american society can be explained away by freedom to consume, the capitalist healthcare and societal model, and the idea of personal responsibility; none of which pose a threat to the government. Terrorism is the forceful demand of very reasonable requests that have been iterated thousands of times over the past fifty years to a deaf audience of american plutocrats. people forget that Osama Bin Laden had rather reasonable requests of our foreign policy that were familiar, even embraced by a number of americans seeking to reduce foreign spending, but entirely ignored by our empire: Namely to leave Saudi Arabia, withdraw from Iraq, and withdraw support from Israel.

The occupy protests are another fine example. it would have cost nothing to begin engaging protestors in constructive dialog and working to mitigate their grievances. We could have helped ensure the disenfranchised among them had a voice in the decision making process of their elected government and emerged championing the american way. Instead they were systematically targeted and demonized by media, their message marginalized and obfuscated. the protestors were arrested, beaten and some killed. free speech areas were closed and voraceously defended from protestors. A new I-Phone came out and as intended, america changed the channel.

many will see that in america, "protests arent allowed to go on forever" and this is true for a number of reasons. grass is trampled, sidewalks are congested and eventually the government grows tired. but like every government we demonize around the world, our leaders laud the idea that protests are not allowed to go on forever. That if they can control the media outcome of the event, they stymy the calcification of resolve and interest in the protest and never have to do anything more than continue with business as usual. Protests in america are as genuine and lawful as protests in china in many respects, because instead of addressing fundamental failures of north american capitalism ad foreign policy we patch over the cracks with arrest warrants and detention camps. Its the reason protests at presidential inaugurations do not take place anywhere near the inauguration, and why Occupy new york does so nowhere near Wall Street.

confiscation? wtf? (3, Interesting)

l3v1 (787564) | about 8 months ago | (#45670299)

OK, first I have to say I travel a lot and I know they can check your devices at a lot of airports, and I hate that as much as everyone. However, my question is why don't they just make a copy/backup/etc of all the devices you have and give them all back? Why do they have to take everything away? It's not that I'd have something sensitive or illegal on my devices: I never take sensitive information with me on travels, I always access them remotely on our servers, all the software I use is legit or free, and I buy all my music and videos. However, taking the devices away can cause a lot of problems, the most important being making you unreachable (and making you unable to reach people). Yes, you can buy a new tablet or a new laptop, and you can buy a new phone, but good luck trying to convince your phone company to forward your calls to a new number if you don't actually have the device and you're not even in your home country... and propagating your new number to all your important contacts could be a real PITA. Yes, some can use Google Voice, but others would be simply fscked. All in all, I don't see how one could come out OK from such an encounter.

Re:confiscation? wtf? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 8 months ago | (#45670653)

making copies can take time. drives are pretty large today and it can take a while to zip up your media. it also requires some skill and these monkeys simply don't have it; that's the job of some other back-room set of monkeys.

the main goal is to scare and punish. and let everyone know that they can do this to anyone at any time and without any reason.

tl;dr; its all for continuing the chilling effect, to keep people in fear OF the government.

Re:confiscation? wtf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670767)

Let's suppose you ARE travelling with some sensitive/encrypted data, which, in itself, is a horrendously stupid idea and you ought to be shot for it. They let you go, and while working on the backup, you decrypt your building plans for State Monument X and go nuts.

That said, that's THEIR viewpoint. That's how they see things. It's not representative of how I view things, but that's what you're going to run into. Denying the fact doesn't help you any. So, the real way to deal with carrying your porn collection (legal, but embarassing) is to not carry it. Give them the passwords, let them see that you don't have anything you could give them (and yes, they know how Truecrypt works). Go to a public hotspot, download your shit, preferably from a third party server, not your home or business.

Insurance (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670387)

You should take out replacement insurance for any gadgets when you travel and never have the only copy of anything on those devices.

Chromebook For This Situation (1)

The Phantom Mensch (52436) | about 8 months ago | (#45670433)

Would a chromebook make a good travel laptop for this sort of situation? Let's say you have two Google accounts, one with a bland public persona and one with any sensitive information you care to work with. Delete your sensitive account from the machine before you transit through customs and add it back when you get to a safe(ish) network. Keep all your data in the cloud.

I wonder what Chrome OS does with local files of deleted users?

Re:Chromebook For This Situation (1)

SIGBUS (8236) | about 8 months ago | (#45670711)

Well, then you're trusting Google not to hand your data over to any random government official in whatever countries you travel to or through. Not to mention, is your connection between the Chromebook and Google encrypted? Is it worthwhile encryption or something as easy to crack as WEP?

Even though it's now over 14 years ago, I deliberately chose not to travel with a laptop to the UK. IMO, the best bet if you need a computer is to get a cheap netbook or refurbished laptop, and install your OS of choice onto a freshly-wiped drive. When you get it home, consider it compromised, especially if Mr. Customs Man has taken it into a back room and/or plugged anything into it.

someone please invade the USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45670457)

and give us a constitutional representative democracy before our international terror network spreads any more.

I had a computer confiscated (3, Interesting)

pigsycyberbully (3450203) | about 8 months ago | (#45670757)

In 2008 I had a computer confiscated they asked me for the password I said the stress of the confiscation made me forget the password. They said to me "do I take them for fools." I said yes but what has that got to do with the password? The laptop was a Dell Computer and it was broken the keyboard did not work and it also did not have a hard drive I had taken it out to use it with another laptop. They never returned the laptop not that I wanted it back anyway. They really are stupid people they just tick boxes and do as they are told they are a special kind of brainless human being. The solicitor told me to make a claim for the laptop "the value of" for a brand-new working computer although I never did. They were looking for clone mobile phone numbers. I have a stubborn rebellious nature that is antiauthority and unfortunately I cannot control my stubborn rebelliousness.
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