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U.S. Defends Laptop Searches At The Border

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posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 05:47 PM
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Originally posted by thetruth777
Everything that has ever been on your PC is stored in a log. It can be accessed even if the files are deleted. That includes all websites visited (ATS, INFOWARS). To take care of that issue, try installing and using "System Cleaner 5".



And who hasn't stumbled upon an illegal website or a website distributing illegal material at some point? Not neccesarily on purpose, a link does not tell me everything about the page I am soon to enter. It does not tell me there are illegal pictures, or copyrighted material there so how will I know.

Not that an excuse like that would ever stand up in court but it is the truth, with the amount of pages a person can go through in a day there is a good chance one of them will not be entirely legal.




posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 06:58 PM
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Originally posted by chise61

Originally posted by jprophet420

Thats at the border. I would expect it to be reasonable that If I flew from lets say Denver to LA at LAX they might check my laptop for any number of malicious things, as we all well know can be on there. Kiddie porn, plans for any number illicit things or activities, etc etc. If I had a bulging duffle bag I would expect it be suspect to any number of plots until proven innocent.




Why would that be considered reasonable, does just the fact that a person is traveling make them suspect of being a criminal and give probable cause ?



I'm sorry, but that's where you're wrong, we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent.



edited to correct mistake.



[edit on 13/7/08 by chise61]

This is where we are having the communications breakdown.

1. In the instance where it is on a border, the answer is simple. The laws of probable cause are not in effect.
2. In the domestic instance, when you purchase the ticket you agree to the airlines terms and conditions. They reserve the right to search you. "By clicking this button you agree to the terms of service blah blah blah". Caviat Emptor.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 07:20 PM
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Long before 9-11 and our current state of "hysterroria", a man named Phil Zimmermann tried to travel outside of the U.S. with his laptop (a very big and slow one probably!) along with a copy of a program that he wrote that you may have heard of: PGP. He was detained, questioned, and already under investigation for allegedly violating the Arms Export Control Act by U.S. Customs and other agencies. His program was considered at that time a munition by the U.S. government and he was charged with illegal arms trafficking/exporting. The U.S. government has been playing this game for a very long time only now it affects a much greater portion of the population. It would seem that our privacy was compromised long before any of this stuff got started. Perhaps even before most of players in the game today were born.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 08:29 PM
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Originally posted by thetruth777
I wonder: will encrypting certain files protect them from third-party eyes? Or can the DHS penetrate 128-bit encryption?


Encryption will not protect you. They will ask you for your password, and if you refuse to give it to them, it will be treated in the same way as refusing to open the trunk of your car.

However, if you are a US citizen returning to your own country, the situation is a bit different. As a US citizen you do have a right to enter your own county, and once you do, you are then subject to US law. The problem is that you can be detained at the pleasure of customs for, I think, up to 72 hours during which time you laptop hard dive will be cloned and every orifice and cavity of you and your laptop will be scrutinized.

The problem is that Customs really doesn't know what they are doing -- I mean that in a legal sense, since they are unable or unwilling to make public their procedures and policy -- usually a sign that a government agency is in total confusion.

The current ray of light is the Boucher case where


A federal judge in Vermont has ruled that prosecutors can't force a criminal defendant accused of having illegal images on his hard drive to divulge his PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) passphrase.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome Niedermeier ruled that a man charged with transporting child pornography on his laptop across the Canadian border has a Fifth Amendment right not to turn over the passphrase to prosecutors. The Fifth Amendment protects the right to avoid self-incrimination.
news.cnet.com

But this is being challenged by another view...


Michael T. Arnold, flying into Los Angeles from the Philippines with his trusty laptop in hand. A customs officer decided to take a look-see at the files on his computer. Arnold wasn't a suspected terrorist. The laptop didn't set off alarms that it emitted the odor of plastic explosive. The customs officer was just checking, because he could.

The LA district court judge, Dean Pregerson, had it right.

“Electronic storage devices function as an extension of our own memory,” Judge Pregerson wrote, in explaining why the government should not be allowed to inspect them without cause. “They are capable of storing our thoughts, ranging from the most whimsical to the most profound.”

The Circuit, Liptak predicts, views it differently.

The three judges who heard the arguments in October in the appeal of his decision seemed persuaded that a computer is just a container and deserves no special protection from searches at the border. The same information in hard-copy form, their questions suggested, would doubtless be subject to search.

This simplistic assessment is yet another example of remembering the rubric while forgetting the rationale, a favorite endeavor of courts when trying to avoid any novel thought and hide behind the wall of precedent.

and

While border searches have long been a free for all, it developed that way for a reason. The rubric was that there was no expectation of privacy at the border, thus letting everyone crossing a border know that they were subject to search.

and

If there is no privacy as to the content of a computer hard drive, will the next logical step be for the government to download all hard drives at a person passes through customs for inspection at a more convenient time, thus letting the government maintain a complete record of the contents of every laptop that crosses a border? If it's encrypted (and you're not as stupid as Boucher by giving it away for free), can customs either command that you enter the password or refuse you entrance to the United States? Or can they simply impound your computer upon refusal?

blog.simplejustice.us

These issues are not resolved yet.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 09:03 PM
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A friend of mine had his laptop taken by the DHS when he moved back to the US from Spain. Not just checked or dowloaded but taken. $2,500 laptop gone! No reimbursment, no MY BAD, just a good old fashioned USA F@#$ YOU.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 09:09 PM
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reply to post by metamagic
 


If we are supposed to follow this logical conclusion from three judges here, then this means there is no privacy, and while the 5th Amendment allows us the right to be free of self-incrimination, then this dictates that the 5th Amendment is dead in the water altogether.


The Circuit, Liptak predicts, views it differently.

The three judges who heard the arguments in October in the appeal of his decision seemed persuaded that a computer is just a container and deserves no special protection from searches at the border. The same information in hard-copy form, their questions suggested, would doubtless be subject to search.

This simplistic assessment is yet another example of remembering the rubric while forgetting the rationale, a favorite endeavor of courts when trying to avoid any novel thought and hide behind the wall of precedent.


If we're to follow the logic of these three judges in that a computer is not a private, then this should mean that we are not responsible whatsoever for the content of the information stored electronically on our computers at all.

Government, you can not have it both ways, that's a self-negating dictate.

Either we are still protected by the 5th Amendment, get your damn hands off any and all electronic devices I bring through Customs that do not set off the bomb and chemical alarms, you have no right to search and seize this information, it is Constitutionally protected by U.S. law on U.S. soil.

I can understand fully well going into a different country, we are operating within another countries laws, while as a citizen of the U.S. we are not protected by the same laws, we have to obey that host countries laws, while traveling abroad.


[edit on 13-7-2008 by SpartanKingLeonidas]



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 09:18 PM
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Originally posted by SpartanKingLeonidas
reply to post by metamagic
[
Government, you can not have it both ways, that's a self-negating dictate.


I do agree that they cannot have it both ways, and many legal experts do not agree with this "laptop as suitcase" concept either. The problem is that technology has advanced faster than the law and everyone is scrambling to write the new rules. Until that is done, everyone will be arguing abou t which old ones best apply. Don't expect consensus.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 09:41 PM
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Originally posted by jprophet420

This is where we are having the communications breakdown.

1. In the instance where it is on a border, the answer is simple. The laws of probable cause are not in effect.


2. In the domestic instance, when you purchase the ticket you agree to the airlines terms and conditions. They reserve the right to search you. "By clicking this button you agree to the terms of service blah blah blah". Caviat Emptor.




Yes but if it is an American citizen reentering America then they should still be entitled to their rights as Americans. I've never been out of the country, but i'm assuming that the customs agents at American airports are American customs agents ( if i am wrong, you'll have to excuse me, as i stated i've never traveled outside of the country before) which in my mind says that they should be giving American citizens their rights.



Yes the airlines may reserve the right to search you, and you may agree to this when purchasing a ticket. However we are not discussing the airlines searching your things, we are discussing the customs agents searching your things, i don't believe that that is agreed to when purchasing an airline ticket.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 09:44 PM
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Originally posted by metamagic

Originally posted by SpartanKingLeonidas
reply to post by metamagic

Government, you can not have it both ways, that's a self-negating dictate.


I do agree that they cannot have it both ways, and many legal experts do not agree with this "laptop as suitcase" concept either. The problem is that technology has advanced faster than the law and everyone is scrambling to write the new rules. Until that is done, everyone will be arguing about which old ones best apply. Don't expect consensus.


Oh, of course not, and until they find a consensus, and update the laws fully, they will of course lie, obfuscate, and manipulate their ways through bullying everyone who stands up to them.

All in the name of safety and security. I'm not buying it.

My baloney has a first name, it's G E O R G E.

My baloney has a second name, it's D U B Y A.

My baloney has a third name, it's B U S H.



posted on Jul, 13 2008 @ 09:59 PM
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Just what do they expect to catch anyhow?

It's not like anyone who wants to do the US harm will be storing detailed instructions as to how they're going to do it on a laptop.

And I'm fairly certain that child pornographers would leave their child porn at home. I'm no expert, but if you've got something to hide that you're ashamed of, last thing I'd expect them to do is stick it on a laptop and start going cross country.


Whatever excuses they have for searching laptops, it's bogus.

This is all about making sure the people know they have no privacy. Once the people get used to that, they can start closing the vice a little further.

They won't be happy until there are checkpoints at every street, arresting anyone who doesn't have a "walking pass".

It's not about what we citizens have to hide, it's about what the government has to hide from us, and in the event we get our hands on evidence, it becomes about ensuring we can't do anything with it.

Yes, it's about security... it's ALL about security. Theirs.



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 01:34 AM
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Who wants to be detained at a border? Any border? I know that I don't like being asked to leave the line and to go to that "little room in the back" for any reason whatsoever. I often travel between the States and Canada and so far (knock on wood) I've never been detained for anything but the most routine passport checks or cursory search of my vehicle. Of course that doesn't mean that it can't happen but I'd like to have some control over that eventuality.

One thing is for certain, I won't be taking my laptop along when I have to travel by air. As it is, I usually cut things close -- arriving 'just in time' for my flights. I would hate to miss a flight because I was detained over the contents of my laptop. And I would be loathe to leave my laptop in the custody of the Immigrations and Customs people. It's not that I have anything to hide. I don't. I just don't like the idea that I might be forced to entrust my laptop into the typically incompetent hands of Customs Agents. For one thing, I think that it might be highly unlikely that my pc and me would ever be re-united. You just know that the red tape surrounding reimbursement for missing or lost property will be a total fiasco. Call me a pessimist but I just don't have all that much faith in the bureaucracy that already exists much less in the one that will surely arise in the wake of this new wrinkle in border control.

If I absolutely must carry important data along with me on a trip, I'll probably use a USB Flash Drive. That way, if ordered, it would be no big deal to transfer the data and get on with my travel plans. Hell, if need be....they can even keep my Flash Drive. Considering the alternative...if I have to leave anything behind in the hands of G-Men....it might as well be something relatively inexpensive.



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 01:37 AM
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PLEASE TELL ME
can i get in trouble at the border for having illegal music and movies??!!!!
i need to know!



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 01:44 AM
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reply to post by benevolent tyrant
 


While yes, a thumb-drive is an inexpensive device to lose, I do not believe I've heard anything about them being searched.

Not that I'm traveling, nor stupid enough to take anything sensitive with Me, especially on a laptop, I think you have to be nuts to surrender a device that expensive, no matter who says what to you about it.

I'm sorry, you better show Me the offending information, and you better reimburse Me somehow.

I'm sorry, even a hooker gives you a sense of satisfaction, when you get screwed.



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 01:56 AM
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Originally posted by Zenskeptical
PLEASE TELL ME
can i get in trouble at the border for having illegal music and movies??!!!!
i need to know!





U.S. of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security charged with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. trade laws.

Its other primary mission is preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States. CBP is also responsible for apprehending individuals attempting to enter the United States illegally, stemming the flow of illegal drugs and other contraband, protecting the United States agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases, and protecting American businesses from theft of their intellectual property.SOURCE


(bold print added for emphasis)
While the duties of U.S. Customs Agents are manifold, to answer your question regarding transferring downloaded music across an international border into the U.S., please note that one of the duties of Customs personnel is to "protect American businesses from theft of their intellectual property". If I were crossing a U.S. border with a laptop loaded with MP3's, I think that I would be prepared to demonstrate that they were all licensed copies of music that I had added from CDs that I physically owned.

I would imagine that if Customs Agents were to download a PC hardrive and, in the process, were to discover that there were a number of illegally downloaded music files, the laptop could conceivably be confiscated. It's a chance that I certainly would not take even though I live in Canada where it is not illegal to download music via p2p. What is legal in Canada is not automatically transferable to the U.S. With a mandate to protect the intellectual property of American business, I would surmise that this would clearly include music file downloads and this could place you in legal jeopardy.



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 01:58 AM
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1. Install a Vanilla OS
2. Have only user/guest access to the PC
3. Have Citrix Client autostart upon logon
4. Tell them that you have no admin access to your company laptop, all apps and info is run via Citrix in your corporate headquaters & good luck getting in past 3 levels of corporate firewalls and IDS.


The do what an earlier poster said, store your gear on Amazon S3 or similar, or if you "Trust no one" then your own personal server with inbound web access.

Low level format your PC after customs gives it back, you never know what was put on the HD.



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 02:12 AM
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I have a question, and I'm not even sure if it can be answered here.

I just crossed the US/Canadian border TWO times in a 48 hr period, this weekend. As I'm leaving Alaska by vehicle and you have to cross into Canada, then back into the states.

I have THREE computers in my vehicle (and a butt load of other stuff). They never once looked at my computers.

Custom was VERY easy and it was a pleasant experience.

So, who are the people that are having their laptops looked at and seized? Because it wasn't me.

Ed. spelling

[edit on 14-7-2008 by greeneyedleo]



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 02:24 AM
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Originally posted by greeneyedleo
I have a question, and I'm not even sure if it can be answered here.

I just crossed the US/Canadian border TWO times in a 48 hr period, this weekend. As I'm leaving Alaska by vehicle and you have to cross into Canada, then back into the states.

I have THREE computers in my vehicle (and a butt load of other stuff). They never once looked at my computers.

Custom was VERY easy and it was a pleasant experience.

So, who are the people that are having their laptops looked at and seized? Because it wasn't me.

Ed. spelling

[edit on 14-7-2008 by greeneyedleo]


Mayber you found the one checkpoint where the lazy idiots were working that day.


Maybe you just lucked out. No one has said every computer is seized.



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 02:24 AM
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reply to post by greeneyedleo
 



I believe right now it just pertains to people that are traveling on airplanes. Seems as for right now you are safe when traveling by vehicle, but who knows how long that will last.



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 02:40 AM
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Anyone who has crossed the border from Canada into the US by way of land links knows that the Custom inspections aren't always as rigorous as one might imagine or, for that matter, expect. Often the customs inspection entering the States is really nothing more than a brief interview:

"Citizenship of what country?"
"Purpose of your visit?"
"Are you bringing in anything into the country?"

Of course, the possibility always exists that the customs inspection will be more rigorous. This might easily include having your vehicle searched, your belongings inspected and a more thorough personal interview and search being conducted. The thoroughness that the Customs agents might exhibit depend upon a variety of factors which might include: the way you might answer any questions posed (the more complicated or convoluted your answers, the greater the likelihood that you will be singled out for further examination), you might match a psychological or sociological profile of people to be inspected (the cutoms authorities are well versed and trained in identifying particular mannerisms and behaviors that can indicate individuals who might warrant further inspections. While not foolproof, by any means, these behavioral indicators can be quite accurate. Finally, Customs officials rely on blind, random luck to uncover violations. It is widely known that customs officials will, at random, select vehicles and individuals to search at a more rigorous level. It could be as simple as "every tenth vehicle".

Remember the level of traffic that crosses American borders --- North and South. It is simply not possible to check each and every car, camper, RV, and truck. This could easily cause undue economic hardships for people on both sides of the border and, to be frank, Canada and the US both rely upon the close economic ties that exist between both countries. Often, the only way that the stringent customs practices can be enforced between nations is through a sensitive balancing act. That is, vehicles are searched at a level that is 'just enough' to dissuade illegal activity while still promoting a lively cross border economy. Needless to say, this makes for a porous border. But, still, the possibility always exists that YOU and YOUR computer(s) might be subject to a closer inspection. It really is a crapshoot!



posted on Jul, 14 2008 @ 02:48 AM
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reply to post by jprophet420
 


We give them permission to look for bombs weapons or anything that is dangerous to the safe operation of the aircraft. That means they are free to make sure our computer is not loaded with Semtex or its equivalent. That does not mean they can search our intellectual property.

Show me any agreement that they can search our personal files. There isn't one and you're FOS.

That is not part of any agreement we sign receiving our tickets or even passports. Maybe they would like to do that & maybe that's why they've tried a couple times, but I think many companies would quit flying their employees with sensitive data. Airlines are having a hard enough time with the fuel cost problems start treating people like slaves instead of citizens and we will quit flying altogether.

A couple recent news cases aside I've never heard of anyone getting their computer hard drives copied or being asked to allow such a search and I have close family & friends in the airline industry and none of them have seen or heard of any such request.

I suggest anyone that is traveling with anything that might be considered illegal either don't bring it through borders, encrypt using PGP. Download some good DOD level drive wipes or just take the hard drive screws out when traveling and be prepared to crush your drive if asked to see its contents. After the drive is crushed all they can do is speculate.

Again the only people that would be interested in looking at your drive contents are evil minions looking to enslave you and they are the enemy of the peoples of the Earth. Their names, pictures & addresses should be posted in public places for all to see and then we can crucify them in public and recycle their protein and feed them to our dogs or use them as fertilizer for our crops.

Try to enslave me and I will take a bath in your families blood and then I will fertilize my crops with your remnants.



[edit on 14-7-2008 by verylowfrequency]



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