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Us Authorities Can Seize Travellers' Laptops At The Border Without Citing A Legal Reason

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25458533

A federal judge in New York has ruled authorities can seize travellers' laptops at the border without citing a legal reason, suspecting the traveller of a crime, or explaining themselves in any way. What happens if they take yours?

The news over the past year has been filled with stories of the National Security Agency (NSA) and its surveillance operations and the risks to online privacy.

The release of documents obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden sheds new light on its global electronic spying programme.

Yet authorities can also find out about you in a more traditional manner - by seizing your possessions at the border.

Long ago the authorities could read your diary. Now they can go through your laptop's hard drive. The federal judge was upholding a policy about border seizures formalised after the 2001 al-Qaeda attacks.

If the US authorities choose, they can seize your computer at the border and search it for evidence of criminal activity, foreign intelligence links, or terrorist ties.

Political activists, academics and journalists say they are worried about having their laptops seized when they cross the border. Many of them have responded to the threat by attending workshops run by privacy experts to learn about protecting their data while travelling.

"Searches of electronic media, permitted by law and carried out at borders and ports of entry, are vital to detecting information that pose serious harm," says a US Department of Homeland Security official.

Hmmm so if you've used bitlocker or truecrypt what then? Can they force you to decrypt it? Or will they simply keep it and sell it off on ebay?

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WTF! You can buy one when you go there, do illegal shit, and then throw it away! :blink:

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http://www.bbc.co.uk...gazine-25458533

Hmmm so if you've used bitlocker or truecrypt what then? Can they force you to decrypt it? Or will they simply keep it and sell it off on ebay?

You seem to have missed the point of the story a bit. It says in the story that:

Afterwards you get your laptop back - though not right away. "It can take days or weeks for the laptop to be returned," says Georgia Institute of Technology's Peter Swire.

It has long been the case that persons travelling through international borders have no rights against being stopped and searched. I recall that the Israelis used to be quite good at cloning hard disks on the spot so that your equipment could be returned on the spot and analysed at leisure. Due to the recent revelations about NSA/GCHQ snooping, I suspect that the best policy is not to carry any data - even encrypted - through international borders if you have something political or otherwise sensitive.

https://tails.boum.org/

My suspicion is that we're going to hear about more encrypted systems being bust over the next few years. Trust nobody :ph34r:

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I suspect that the best policy is not to carry any data - even encrypted - through international borders if you have something political or otherwise sensitive.

A couple of years ago I was given a secondary interview entering the US. The immigration officer at the first booth noticed that this was my fifth time entering the US under the visa waiver scheme in as many months, and wanted to know why. When I explained that I both had work commitments in the US (I was a board member of an organisation based there, and attended 3-4 meetings a year) and was engaged to an American, I was sent for the secondary interview at that point. The second immigration officer suspected that I was trying to work (for payment) in the US without a visa, and basically challenged me to prove that I wasn't. As part of that he asked me to boot up my laptop, saying that he wanted to look at my email account. At this point I was worried, because one of the partitions on my laptop's hard drive is Truecrypted, and I feared that when he saw me mounting the volume and entering the password, he'd immediately suspect me of something nefarious.

In fact, I didn't even get as far as completing the Ubuntu boot-up. Just as I was about to log on (to Ubuntu), he said "OK, that's enough, I believe you", then commenting that if I really did have something to hide, I'd have been reluctant to turn on and boot up my laptop. At that point he put the entry stamp in my passport, told me to pack my bag up and bugger off.

If I had been trying to conceal email messages from him I could have done very easily. For example, I could have made sure that there were no incriminating messages on the POP server of my account and then shown him the web interface only. And in a broader sense, I could have left any files I didn't want him to know about on a NAS server at home, memorised its FTP address and ID/password (i.e..no trace of it saved in histories in client software, that sort of thing), and just got at them from wherever I needed to while travelling. In this day and age, there is no need to leave any potentially problematic data on the hard drive of a laptop that you physically cart around with you, let alone in 'en clair' form. That's why the Guardian journalist's gay lover who was caught with USB sticks full of Snowden stuff at Heathrow was so stupid. Why carry that sort of data through border checks when you can send it electronically, which will be far more difficult for the authorities to intercept?

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No wonder it takes so long to enter the USA.

I HATE having to give fingerprints at US immigration. Have never been required give them here. If not for a sister in US I would never go.

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I HATE having to give fingerprints at US immigration. Have never been required give them here. If not for a sister in US I would never go.

It's a lot easier to got to North Korea! :blink:

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It's a lot easier to got to North Korea! :blink:

Actually, it's not - you have to apply for a full visa in advance and it has to be tied to a very specific reason. I bet the border guards are friendlier than some log the US ones though!

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Actually, it's not - you have to apply for a full visa in advance and it has to be tied to a very specific reason. I bet the border guards are friendlier than some log the US ones though!

Same thing for China, and furthermore you also need a letter of invitation from a Chinese citizen or orgnisation, stating the reason for your visit. To get the visa you either have to attend the Chinese embassy/consulate in person (a significant hassle if you don't live in London or Manchester), or send it to them, and therefore be without your passport for about a month (not possible if you need to travel during this period). The process costs around £100. When the Chinese complain that UK immigration formalities are difficult, therefore, I can't say that I have a lot of sympathy for them.

As for fingerprinting, it is by no means only the US that does this. The UK does so in some cases, too (i.e. for visas other than short-stay, tourist visas for non-EU citizens): the only difference is that fingerprints are taken as part of the application process before you arrive, not at the airport.

Personally I have no problem with any country fingerprinting foreign visitors and residents on its territory. Unlike your own country of citizenship, you have the option of simply not going to another country if you don't like the way they treat visitors, both officially and culturally (and there is a list of countries I intend to stay away from in future, headed by Scotland and France, for precisely that reason), and so the Americans or anyone else taking fingerprints from arriving tourists is not something you have to subject yourself to if you don't want to.

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Same thing for China, and furthermore you also need a letter of invitation from a Chinese citizen or orgnisation, stating the reason for your visit. To get the visa you either have to attend the Chinese embassy/consulate in person (a significant hassle if you don't live in London or Manchester), or send it to them, and therefore be without your passport for about a month (not possible if you need to travel during this period). The process costs around £100. When the Chinese complain that UK immigration formalities are difficult, therefore, I can't say that I have a lot of sympathy for them.

As for fingerprinting, it is by no means only the US that does this. The UK does so in some cases, too (i.e. for visas other than short-stay, tourist visas for non-EU citizens): the only difference is that fingerprints are taken as part of the application process before you arrive, not at the airport.

Personally I have no problem with any country fingerprinting foreign visitors and residents on its territory. Unlike your own country of citizenship, you have the option of simply not going to another country if you don't like the way they treat visitors, both officially and culturally (and there is a list of countries I intend to stay away from in future, headed by Scotland and France, for precisely that reason), and so the Americans or anyone else taking fingerprints from arriving tourists is not something you have to subject yourself to if you don't want to.

It took me 4 days to get my last Chinese visa, so it doesn't take so long.

If you are concerned about stuff like not being able to travel then you can apply for a second UK passport, which is common among people who travel a lot on business. This allows you to have one passport in for a visa application while you are travelling on another. You do need to provide good justification for this. I used to have it but let it lapse because I no longer travel so much, but it did help with the weird country problems. For example you can get all the stamps to strange places in one passport which helps when you go to others like the US.

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It took me 4 days to get my last Chinese visa, so it doesn't take so long.

They've obviously made the process more efficient since the last time I went to China (I've been twice, in 2008 and 2010).

If you are concerned about stuff like not being able to travel then you can apply for a second UK passport, which is common among people who travel a lot on business.

Interesting - didn't know that this could be done. Most of my international travel over the last decade has been either to the US or to the Faroes, and I've never had to go anywhere that would put an entry stamp in my passport that might create issues going somewhere else. But those two trips to China were a bit of a pain, because of the time I was without my passport getting the visa put in it.

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