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workingpoor

Should you take your phone to the United States?

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A smartphone in a case showing the US flagImage copyrightGETTY IMAGESj

"The next time you plan to cross a border, leave your phone at home."

That is the rather startling advice in a blogpost that is being widely shared right now. 

Its author, Quincy Larson, is a software engineer, who has previously written about the importance of protecting personal data. He now fears that data could be at risk every time you cross a border.

His concerns were sparked by the story of Sidd Bikkannavar, an American-born Nasa engineer, who flew home from a trip to Chile last month. On arrival in Houston, he was detained by the border police and, by his own account, put under great pressure to hand over the passcode to his smartphone, despite the fact that the device had been issued to him by Nasa.

Eventually, Bikkannavar did hand over both the phone and the passcode. It was taken away for 30 minutes and then returned, and he was free to go.

Larson sees this as a very dangerous precedent: "What we're seeing now is that anyone can be grabbed on their way through customs and forced to hand over the full contents of their digital life."

We also know that the new homeland security secretary, John Kelly, has talked of requiring visa applicants to hand over passwords to their social media accounts - though whether that could apply at the border too is not clear.

SmartphoneImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES Image captionHow much private data is on your smartphone?

And on Thursday, a new Republican congressman took to Twitter to announce proudly that he had introduced his first bill - to require the review of visa applicants' social media.

Larson predicts that a policy where travellers are asked to download the contents of their phones will soon become commonplace, not just in the United States but around the world.

Hence his advice to leave your mobile phone and laptop at home and rent devices when you get to your destination.

Which seems a little extreme. I can't imagine being separated from my smartphone on a flight - and I'm sure many others feel the same. So I decided to seek some advice from the UK Foreign Office and the US embassy in London.

Was there a danger that I would be forced by border officials to unlock my phone or hand over my social media passwords? 

The Foreign Office told me their travel advice did not cover this subject because they had not received any calls about it. But they did suggest that if I happened to be trapped in immigration at JFK airport with a border agent demanding my passcode, I could call the British embassy and arrange a lawyer.

As for the American embassy, well I called before lunchtime on Thursday and got a perfectly pleasant response. They would need to speak to Washington and would get back to me later about the matter of my smartphone and my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

As I write, it's Friday morning and I've heard nothing. Perhaps Washington has other matters on its mind. So perhaps I'd better take what I believe is known as a "burner" phone the next time I fly across the Atlantic.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39003392

Very sinister indeed, i suppose this is the "extreme vetting" that was talked about? 

What happens if you rock up with a Nokia 3310 "brick"? they don't believe you and deport you? 

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On those border progs for both Oz and Canada you regularly see them accessing people's phones at immigration in the airports and border crossings. 

It is worrying as that intimate photo of your partner can be seen as porn in some countries.

 

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wherebee   

Similar stuff can happen in any country.  Including this one, to you lot right now, in certain circumstances.  More US beating from the media in my view.  The risk is minuscule for travellers from the UK without beards and choppy head tendencies.

 

That said, that's why I have never logged into HPC from a mobile.  I'll get me on a no fly list.... B)

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wherebee   
7 minutes ago, The Masked Tulip said:

On those border progs for both Oz and Canada you regularly see them accessing people's phones at immigration in the airports and border crossings. 

It is worrying as that intimate photo of your partner can be seen as ANIMAL porn in some countries.

 

corrected for you in case CCC is reading

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200p   

I'm surprised they can't download it remotely as soon as you land.

OR they already know in real time anyway. RE: Ed. Snowden.

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Errol   

Because obviously if you worked for Al Qaeda you would keep all your email conversations, orders and important terror cell contacts in your mobile phone and then try and cross the US border.

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dgul   

Many countries have the right to do pretty much what they want at their borders.  I have been warned from taking computers to France because, technically, you had to tell them all passwords of encrypted devices at the border (of course no one did, but that would have been an offence).  The question is, how likely they are to actually do anything?  I suppose the US might have dramatically increased monitoring in the last few weeks, but I'd not heard anything.

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Edit it to:

Why not turn your phone off and enjoy the world around you. Smile at your family members and talk to them on trips. Drive safely without your phone interfering with your concentration. Don't take photos but enjoy the moment. Breath in and enjoy your senses being surrounded by air and light and colour and scents. 

We are a zombie planet. The aliens could arrive and as long as they let us keep playing on our phones we will be happy working for our new masters.

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I suspect that if you had stuff in Arabic on your smartphone saying 'Death to all infidels! Destroy the West' and worst that it would not get a second glance from most border agents simply because they have no idea what the stuff says.

 

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Riedquat   
4 minutes ago, SarahBell said:

Edit it to:

Why not turn your phone off and enjoy the world around you. Smile at your family members and talk to them on trips. Drive safely without your phone interfering with your concentration. Don't take photos but enjoy the moment. Breath in and enjoy your senses being surrounded by air and light and colour and scents. 

We are a zombie planet. The aliens could arrive and as long as they let us keep playing on our phones we will be happy working for our new masters.

Yep, a non-problem really (not that it changes the problem with over the top nosiness).

What counts as "social media"? Any forum? Or just the usual suspects? I'd probably get barred for not having a mobile phone, Twitter account, or Facebook account, by today's ludicrous standards that's probably a red flag for having something big to hide instead of just viewing the whole lot as pointless dreck.

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dgul   
15 minutes ago, SarahBell said:

Edit it to:

Why not turn your phone off and enjoy the world around you. Smile at your family members and talk to them on trips. Drive safely without your phone interfering with your concentration. Don't take photos but enjoy the moment. Breath in and enjoy your senses being surrounded by air and light and colour and scents. 

We are a zombie planet. The aliens could arrive and as long as they let us keep playing on our phones we will be happy working for our new masters.

  • Travelling for work
  • Needing the phone to sort out cabs etc when you get back, but you turn it off when abroad

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38 minutes ago, dgul said:
  • Travelling for work
  • Needing the phone to sort out cabs etc when you get back, but you turn it off when abroad

Have a work phone with work stuff on it.

And use your work phone to organise the cab.

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dgul   
31 minutes ago, workingpoor said:

What do they mean by a "Burner" phone? a Samsung galaxy note 7? :lol:

I'd not heard of that expression -- I guess it is a US phrase.  As you point out, it is ridiculous as it is the exact opposite of phones that have the feature of burning automatically for the owner.

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You should not take a mobile phone anywhere except a landfill site.

Dance on these dildos of the devil, you poor deluded fools...

 

XYY

                                                                                                               

The dog's kennel is not the place to keep a sausage - Danish proverb

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I've just uploaded all my data to Google drive. That way the American security services can peruse it at their leisure, and have no need to waste my time or theirs at border crossings. :)

 

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I was once stopped by Australian border control as they suspected I was there to find work.

I carry a lot of backup drives, sd cards, two phones, tablet, laptop and kindle.They scanned the lot. Took over an hour, was quite a stressful experience but was ok to go eventually.

When asked why they picked me out (virtually the only westerner on.my flight) they said I fitted the profile of a typical overstayer (British male, middle aged, alone) and said that when they scanned my bag, lots of paperwork showed up, e.g. bank statements, proof of address stuff.

Thankfully the last three times I have used the e-gates and not had any hassles.

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winkie   
On 17/02/2017 at 0:41 PM, spyguy said:

No. Buy a cheap one for the US.

....Already got a cheap one, only holds a few texts then they are automatically deleted.....Does that mean they are gone forever?;)

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dgul   
3 minutes ago, winkie said:

....Already got a cheap one, only holds a few texts then they are automatically deleted.....Does that mean they are gone forever?;)

No, but when you ask MI5 for their copy they never deliver.

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200p   
54 minutes ago, ExiledMatty said:

I was once stopped by Australian border control as they suspected I was there to find work.

I carry a lot of backup drives, sd cards, two phones, tablet, laptop and kindle.They scanned the lot. Took over an hour, was quite a stressful experience but was ok to go eventually.

When asked why they picked me out (virtually the only westerner on.my flight) they said I fitted the profile of a typical overstayer (British male, middle aged, alone) and said that when they scanned my bag, lots of paperwork showed up, e.g. bank statements, proof of address stuff.

Thankfully the last three times I have used the e-gates and not had any hassles.

You should sue for discrimination

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This has been a very revealing and useful thread/topic as I will be doing some overseas travelling this year - the first such overseas travelling for quite some years - and the U.S being one of the destinations.

The uber paranoia of the Yanks, as described, hardly surprises me. But the same sort of possible compulsory scanning of IT hardware at the French border? Wow.  But then again last time I visited the land of cheese and wine was when mobile phones were used by city yuppies and the size of a brick and laptops almost unheard of.  Today of course, like so many, I would feel 'naked' and helpless without a mobile and/or laptop.

So, given my aversion to Big Brother and stance that it is a duty to fight back and cooperate as little as possible, what do I do?  Hmmmm.........

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