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[US Customs] Seizing Laptops and Cameras Without Cause

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posted on Jun, 26 2008 @ 07:45 PM
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[US Customs] Seizing Laptops and Cameras Without Cause


news.yahoo.com

Returning from a brief vacation to Germany in February, Bill Hogan was selected for additional screening by customs officials at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. Agents searched Hogan's luggage and then popped an unexpected question: Was he carrying any digital media cards or drives in his pockets? "Then they told me that they were impounding my laptop," says Hogan, a freelance investigative reporter whose recent stories have ranged from the origins of the Iraq war to the impact of money in presidential politics.

Shaken by the encounter, Hogan says he left the airport and examined his bags, finding that the agents had also removed and inspected the memory card from his digital camera. "It was fortunate that I didn't use that machine for work or I would have had to call up all my sources and tell them that the government had just seized their information," he said. When customs offered to return the machine nearly two weeks later, Hogan told them to ship it to his lawyer.

(visit the link for the full news article)




posted on Jun, 26 2008 @ 07:45 PM
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There have been several threads over the past few weeks pointing out how new laws may be going too far in allowing search and seizure of airline traveler's electronic devices.

What concerns me the most here is that this guy was apparently a journalist who has written articles critical of the government in the past. I can't help but wonder what story he was currently working on. Was this an attempt to intimidate a journalist who was investigating something they didnt want discussed? To investigate his sources? Or was it simply a reminder that this can happen to anyone at any time for no reason at all?

I expect we will be hearing about more and more cases similar to this in the future...

news.yahoo.com
(visit the link for the full news article)



posted on Jun, 26 2008 @ 08:29 PM
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Well there is a lesson to be learned. Encrypt all data with strong encrypton when traveling. We now live in a fascist state where there is no right to privacy.
Anything you transmit must be considered compromised at all times.



posted on Jun, 26 2008 @ 09:04 PM
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reply to post by Cyberbian
 


Unfortunately encryption is not the answer. If you have encrypted data and refuse to provide the key, it is currently considered to be an offense in the same way that refusing to unlock your suitcase is. Follow the government logic: if have something encrypted, then you must be hiding something from us because the only people that encrypt things are bad people (pick one or from the list of (a) terrorists (b) socialists (c) Child molesters (d) kiddie porn perverts) How do we know? Because if you were not one of these bad people, you would have nothing to hide and would not have encrypted it.

The recommended procedure that many media and business organizations use is to clean the computer of all data until you are in the other country, then download your working and encrypted files from an on-line data repository (like the way we do with freshmeat,org for open source projects). Before leaving the country, all files are encrypted. up loaded to the repository and then the local hard drives are scrubbed clean..

Many organizations apply this policy to cell phone storage, PDAs and any other device that holds data.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 12:23 PM
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I don't understand why they didnt just image the drives and return the laptop. The fact that they kept the laptop for two weeks seems more like harrasment than anything.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 12:30 PM
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They can have my Macbook when they pry it from my cold dead hands.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 02:25 PM
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$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

or

ATTRIB %filename% /+H

putting a $ sign in front of a folders name makes it a hidden folder

changing the Attrib to +H also makes the file hidden but can be seen if "Show all Files" is enabled.

It has been my experience that low paid bag checkers have very little
computer skills. I wouldn't let them touch my stuff...



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 02:50 PM
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Originally posted by metamagic
Because if you were not one of these bad people, you would have nothing to hide and would not have encrypted it.


And when a government or institution has something to hide from the public and we wish to see it.. how willing will they be to open up?

I'm seeing... do as we say.. not as we do... feel the sqeeze....



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 03:01 PM
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reply to post by metamagic
 


Put one trick might get you out of this. Use an encryption that uses keyfiles, then mail the file in a SD card or such to your travel location. If they ask for your password you can provide it and then say "I dont have the keyfile though".



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 03:19 PM
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reply to post by metamagic
 




Unfortunately encryption is not the answer. If you have encrypted data and refuse to provide the key, it is currently considered to be an offense in the same way that refusing to unlock your suitcase is. Follow the government logic: if have something encrypted, then you must be hiding something from us because the only people that encrypt things are bad people (pick one or from the list of (a) terrorists (b) socialists (c) Child molesters (d) kiddie porn perverts) How do we know? Because if you were not one of these bad people, you would have nothing to hide and would not have encrypted it.


I lock my front door when I leave my house.....

...Does that make me all/any of those things???

People have PRIVATE information for a number of reasons, most are not those.

No probable cause = illegal search and seizure.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 04:54 PM
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There are many reasons why you'd want to use encryption that doesn't fit with any form of criminal activity.

As the poster above said: "I lock my front door".

Assume you just innocently lost your laptop - it stops the bad guys from reading any of your data. Seems a damn good reason to use it to me.

The very idea that "if you use encryption means you're a sicko or a wacko" is just psychological to put you off using it, because the state know well that if the encryption technology used is "good" and is used properly, they're going to have a hell of a time breaking it.

The best option is not to carry it, but leave it online somewhere and collect it later if you're really concerned. As long as the data you're uploading/downloading isn't in itself illegal, I can't actually see a problem with this.

[edit on 27-6-2008 by mirageofdeceit]



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 05:00 PM
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lol, load a copy of Linux onto a USB Thumb drive... when you format your hard drive, make half of it NTFS, and the other half in the linux native format.

Windows can't see the linux native format. So basically, to an observer, the data simply isn't on your hard drive at all... until you plug your thumb drive in and boot into linux through that thumb drive.

Now, you're probably asking "but the thumb drive gives it away." not if you put a bunch of fake files on there for windows to see it wont. Make it look like a photo album.

It's one of the tricks I used on my older PC... nobody could access my data without an external copy of linux.

[edit on 27-6-2008 by johnsky]



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 01:47 PM
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Originally posted by Grafilthy
reply to post by metamagic
 



I lock my front door when I leave my house.....

...Does that make me all/any of those things???

People have PRIVATE information for a number of reasons, most are not those.

No probable cause = illegal search and seizure.


Unfortunately going across boarders is a different legal matter. You do not have the right to privacy not do you have the right to be free from seizure when you enter the US or Canada. Take your mail for example, if you mail an envelope within the US or within Canada, the authorities cannot opened the envelope unless there is a legal reason that invalidates the right to privacy (like the envelope is smoking or leaking something). However, mail that same envelope to another country and it can be freely opened and searched by customs agents.

As one lawyer friend tried to explain it to me, you can think of customs agents taking their action before you or the envelope enter the country or outside the jurisdiction where you have rights. At the boarder, you do have the right to refuse to open your suitcase or be searched, but exercising that right normally means that you will be denied access into the country.

You do not have the right currently to deny customs agents access to encrypted files that you are transporting into the country. Claiming not to have the password or forgetting it usually results in further charges of obstruction unless there is a reasonable argument that you either did not know there was encrypted data on the computer or that you would not know the password. For example. you are transporting a commercially issued CD for software installation and on the CD an encrypted file is found -- in that case, you would have plausible deniability since you did not burn the CD yourself and would not be aware that there was an encrypted file on it.

This power by customs agents is curently being challenged in both the US and Canada.

Bottom line, if you choose to enter the US or Canada, part of that choice is to waive allyour rights to privacy as you cross the boarder.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 01:56 PM
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Originally posted by johnsky
lol, load a copy of Linux onto a USB Thumb drive... when you format your hard drive, make half of it NTFS, and the other half in the linux native format.

Windows can't see the linux native format. So basically, to an observer, the data simply isn't on your hard drive at all... until you plug your thumb drive in and boot into linux through that thumb drive.

Now, you're probably asking "but the thumb drive gives it away." not if you put a bunch of fake files on there for windows to see it wont. Make it look like a photo album.

It's one of the tricks I used on my older PC... nobody could access my data without an external copy of linux.



I have worked a lot with customs agents over the years and the one thing they have told me is how unimaginative people are who are trying to smuggle things into the country. Someone posted in this thread that customs agents are not technologically sophisticated. True, but they don't have to be.

Customs agents do not search all the laptops that come in the US or Canada --the task is too formidable. What they do is seize or search the laptops of suspicious travelers, and that determination is made on the basis of factors other than what is on your computer. If a cursory search doesn't show anything and they still have suspicions, your laptop heads off to the "techies" where it may remain for months in the hands of guys who do know their way around a computer, know all the data hiding tricks, and have very cool tools that you and I don't have access to that enable them to do very good forensic analysis.

The basic rule is don't transport anything over a boarder that you would not want to be found, no matter how well you think you have hidden it. I go back to the procedure of moving data independently of yourself as you go over boarders.



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 02:05 PM
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Ok i know this suggestion shouldn't be needed ...but...
Just UPS yourself the cards/laptop. Or what ever mail service you prefer.

I know it will suck , But i think in the long run it will probably save you a headache . Which is what we all want now right?

OR.. Carry a "thumb stick" with a horrible virus on it . So when they stick it in (your?) Laptop . It erases everything . Hopefully they use there own pc's to check the stick out


Maybe that will get them to think 2x about looking at your stuff without a warrant.

[edit on 28-6-2008 by d11_m_na_c05]

[edit on 28-6-2008 by d11_m_na_c05]



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 02:08 PM
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searching your laptop. I dont have a problem with that. I mean - hypothetically speaking - you could "make a bomb" inside the laptop....

but keeping it for two weeks - thats way overboard. This guy better sue thier pants off.

The last time i was through Chicago airport, my laptop bag was searched, they opened my laptop, was satisfied it was legit, and i moved on. laptop in hand...
so my personal experiences are limited.

Though i think i 1/2 agree with both sides of the argument...
regardless....the next terrorist attack wont come from the skies. It'll be where we least expect it. So all this extra non-sense is really for nothing.




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