Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border (No Reason Required)
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Thread: Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border (No Reason Required)

  1. #1
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border (No Reason Required)

    So the TSA can take a laptop at any time for no reason and keep it indefinitely? Good security? FUD? If it's left at the discretion of the agent at the airport (and many are good but there are some... ), it makes me wonder if this is a good security program. I have no doubts that this is based still on racial profiling (apparently that works at stopping people like Tim McVeigh and Bruce Ivins) but I wonder how many NDAs will be violated by this and how much companies could be out of if they have to offer replacement Blackberries, laptops, etc. to employees that are forced to leave their laptops and other electronics at airports.

    Source: Washington Post

    Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border
    No Suspicion Required Under DHS Policies

    By Ellen Nakashima
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, August 1, 2008; A01

    Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

    Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    "The policies . . . are truly alarming," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government's border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

    DHS officials said the newly disclosed policies -- which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens -- are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

    Civil liberties and business travel groups have pressed the government to disclose its procedures as an increasing number of international travelers have reported that their laptops, cellphones and other digital devices had been taken -- for months, in at least one case -- and their contents examined.

    The policies state that officers may "detain" laptops "for a reasonable period of time" to "review and analyze information." This may take place "absent individualized suspicion."

    The policies cover "any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form," including hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover "all papers and other written documentation," including books, pamphlets and "written materials commonly referred to as 'pocket trash' or 'pocket litter.' "

    Reasonable measures must be taken to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material, the policies say, but there is no specific mention of the handling of personal data such as medical and financial records.

    When a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information, any copies of the data must be destroyed. Copies sent to non-federal entities must be returned to DHS. But the documents specify that there is no limitation on authorities keeping written notes or reports about the materials.

    "They're saying they can rifle through all the information in a traveler's laptop without having a smidgen of evidence that the traveler is breaking the law," said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Notably, he said, the policies "don't establish any criteria for whose computer can be searched."

    Customs Deputy Commissioner Jayson P. Ahern said the efforts "do not infringe on Americans' privacy." In a statement submitted to Feingold for a June hearing on the issue, he noted that the executive branch has long had "plenary authority to conduct routine searches and seizures at the border without probable cause or a warrant" to prevent drugs and other contraband from entering the country.

    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff wrote in an opinion piece published last month in USA Today that "the most dangerous contraband is often contained in laptop computers or other electronic devices." Searches have uncovered "violent jihadist materials" as well as images of child pornography, he wrote.

    With about 400 million travelers entering the country each year, "as a practical matter, travelers only go to secondary [for a more thorough examination] when there is some level of suspicion," Chertoff wrote. "Yet legislation locking in a particular standard for searches would have a dangerous, chilling effect as officers' often split-second assessments are second-guessed."

    In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco upheld the government's power to conduct searches of an international traveler's laptop without suspicion of wrongdoing. The Customs policy can be viewed at: http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/..._authority.pdf.
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  2. #2
    Disgruntled Postal Worker fourdc's Avatar
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    The law doesn't address TSA and airport security.

    This law says that homeland security can seize laptops at the border crossings only. That once inside the borders we were immune from this nonsense. (for now)
    ddddc

    "Somehow saying I told you so just doesn't cover it" Will Smith in I, Robot

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    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    From the mentality that brought you 9/11................ sure, professional criminals and trained terrorists keep their CVs and itineraries on such devices............. unencrypted of course.
    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

  4. #4
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nihil
    From the mentality that brought you 9/11................ sure, professional criminals and trained terrorists keep their CVs and itineraries on such devices............. unencrypted of course.
    And don't forget their bomb designs.. oh wait.. You can find those on the internet. What was the point again?
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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  5. #5
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Well, I guess I am cynical, but all the allied intelligence and security forces haven't managed to find Osama bin Laden even with their vast funding and expertise. In fact they haven't even managed to inflict any real setback to Al Quaeda.

    I see this current move as a knee jerk by politicians who feel that they "need to be seen to be doing something...anything". Given that any successes would have to be pure chance, I just cannot see how this approach can be in any way cost justifiable?

    A senior, trained, professional terrorist just isn't going to carry any incriminating evidence. People actually have memories and the ability to speak to eachother. In the old days human messengers were used to carry military messages................ errrr have we forgotten about the Olympic games and the "marathon" which is supposed to emulate the feat of the messenger who brought news of the battle of Marathon?

    Another thing is that intel has a very short shelf-life. Grab a terrorist or his laptop at the airport and the whole cell will know in 30 minutes and just evaporate. Anyway, you can get 8.4Gb on a DVD these days, so you don't even need a laptop to arouse suspicion?................ Assuming, of course that it is possible to buy PCs in the USA?

    And please don't try to tell me that the POS they employ at airports would even know how to spell "steganography" let alone detect the difference between an innocent DVD and something altogether more sinister

    I am sorry but the whole thing just doesn't hang together for me.
    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

  6. #6
    Dissident 4dm1n brokencrow's Avatar
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    ...ain't America great?
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  7. #7
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    @ brokencrow,

    Yes, She is, as is the fact that American citizens are quite prepared to discuss the shortcomings of their public servants and systems.

    Rest assured, whilst you may consider the Americas Cup and the Ryder Cup to be your birthright................... if it came to moronic politicos, we would give you a damn good run for your money.............. now that is a truly international sport...they really should introduce it to the Olympics?

    My basic personal complaints are:

    1. Legislation of this nature won't work and will be a total waste of funds.
    2. Only serves to remove governance and accountability from those who are empowered to enforce the legislation, many of whom are neither elected nor appointed public servants

    Incidentally, the UK definition of a civil (public) servant:

    "civil to no man, and servant to the Devil"
    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
    As long as you did this to one of these, the least of my little ones............you did it unto Me.
    What profiteth a man if he gains the entire World at the expense of his immortal soul?

  8. #8
    Dissident 4dm1n brokencrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nihil
    1. Legislation of this nature won't work and will be a total waste of funds.
    2. Only serves to remove governance and accountability from those who are empowered to enforce the legislation, many of whom are neither elected nor appointed public servants:eek
    Legislation is never a total waste of money. The money's goin' in someone's pocket.
    Like my Ol' Man used to say, "In America, it's socialism for the rich and capitalism
    for the rest of us." I think he wanted to be a socialist but never had enough money.

    And I'm not so sure about #2. In my book, there's only one way to remove governance
    and accountability from the empowered: go to law school.

    The bureaucrats have a saying here: "We're from the gov't and we're here to help you."
    “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” — Will Rogers

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