Court Says Border Patrol Can Look Through Your Hard Drive

from the so-says-the-courts dept

A court of appeals has determined that, if you’re entering the US, border guards have every right to search through the contents of your laptop, even if they have no reason to be suspicious. This fits with an earlier Supreme Court ruling that basically said the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply at the border. All this case does is say that the data on your laptop is equally available to border guards. The author of the News.com article, Declan McCullough, suggests people learn how to encrypt data on their laptops if they’re worried — but will that matter? What happens if the border guards ask to see the encrypted data as well? What are the limits? Also, we’ve noted in the past that officials have used just the presence of encryption software as evidence that you may have committed a crime, so encrypting data you’d like to keep confidential hardly seems likely to protect that data.


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Comments on “Court Says Border Patrol Can Look Through Your Hard Drive”

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120 Comments
mo says:

Re: Re:

In this instance just as you are being questioned by the agent of homeland security you will only open the door for indefinite incarceration untill you reveal the information or they crack it if you don’t mind a little jail than don’t cooperate otherwise give them 5 min and your done or fed-ex your laptop over the border

Juan Cherry II says:

Remove Important Data

If your data is real important like financial information and such I would encrpyt it and backup to a removable usb drive or a partition and hide the partition so that it is not easily accessible. For smart tech-saavy users there are many ways around this. But, it makes sense to help for the child pronagraphers who probably would have a concern over certai data being accessed.

dorpus says:

Re: RE homeland security

Well you Voted Bush in now you are paying for it.

Funny, because Bush got elected on a platform of minimizing the federal government, and talked about eliminating various federal agencies.

After 9/11, the public demanded a more authoritarian federal government, so Bush went against his election promises and responded to public opinion. Now public opinion blames Bush for respecting public opinion.

Stu says:

Re: Re: RE: homeland security

“After 9/11, the public demanded a more authoritarian federal government . . ”

Gee Dorpus, I don’t recall any demand for that at all. I do recall a lot of cowardly sheep responding to fear mongering politicians though.

In days gone by, “You talk – we listen.” was just a commercial for a stock broker. Now it’s the policy of this administration.

What the hell happened to the people of America?

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re: RE: homeland security

Bush was initially very opposed to creating yet another intelligence agency. Democrat politicians demanded the creation of a new department, along with the TSA. It took a very long time to find anyone willing to work in the DHS, the last leader left in disgrace, so it is in chaos now. The DHS is basically a powerless department with a tiny number of staff, which depends on other agencies for data collection. The DHS is basically an umbrella term for the collaboration between agencies that already existed. However, that hasn’t stopped the media from portraying it as a monstrous creation of the Bush regime.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re:3 RE: homeland security

“The DHS is basically a powerless department with a tiny number of staff”-Dufus

, From the DHS.gov Human resources page-

“The vast majority of DHS civilian employees (approximately 110,000)”

Wake up dufus.

How many of them really work for other government agencies, and are just called “DHS” employees as a technicality?

justice says:

Re: RE homeland security

Your exactly right at least from my time in the military I know terrorist are tech saavy and I would assume the same about child porno sickos. We all know how easy it is to hide files as other thing, (ex. Stenography) or even simply rename it as a .tmp file and put them in a temp folder. Why the gov’t and mpaa/riaa keep let suits define how tech works for them I don’t know!

dorpus says:

Re: Re:

wow. Few more years of the current administration and we wont even have a constituiton or any rights. Canda has alot of real estate to move in! I personally choose Europe.

The USA has become more like Canada or Europe, where an intrusive government is taken for granted. Overly assertive individuals who make a big deal out of privacy are accused of being “too American”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The USA has become more like Canada or Europe, where an intrusive government is taken for granted. Overly assertive individuals who make a big deal out of privacy are accused of being “too American”.

well, that’s just completely wrong. Privacy is seen as very important in Europe. In no way your privacy is more at risk in Europe than in the US. Especially since 9/11. The US demands long records of passengers on airplanes to the US (this has been rejected by the EU parliament) and that is just an example.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

well, that’s just completely wrong. Privacy is seen as very important in Europe. In no way your privacy is more at risk in Europe than in the US. Especially since 9/11. The US demands long records of passengers on airplanes to the US (this has been rejected by the EU parliament) and that is just an example.

Really, like the way European countries keep nationalized health records, can search through it at will, and you have no control over which doctor you see? Or German police who can enter your house without a warrant if they don’t like the shape of the antenna on your roof? Privacy is a foreign concept in the Latin cultures of France or Italy, where people think nothing of having sex with the door open in public hotels, the architecture is designed to allow people see each other’s houses, and when Americans raise a fuss about privacy, they are accused of being the “arrogant American”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:



Really, like the way European countries keep nationalized health records, can search through it at will, and you have no control over which doctor you see? Or German police who can enter your house without a warrant if they don’t like the shape of the antenna on your roof? Privacy is a foreign concept in the Latin cultures of France or Italy, where people think nothing of having sex with the door open in public hotels, the architecture is designed to allow people see each other’s houses, and when Americans raise a fuss about privacy, they are accused of being the “arrogant American”.

Every statement you have made in the above is wrong. The German law does not allow to search your house without a warrent. It’s nonsense that you can’t pick your own dokter, I have done so several times. I can even choose the hospital for treatment. Also, there are NO centralized National Health databases, actually the problem is that there is none. My family docter has a file, the hospitals I visited, each have one with only the information about the treatment I got at that time and the data that I gave them.

Culture and architecture, in teh way you describe, have nothing to do with laws on privacy. Also, you should note that France and Italy do not represent all off European culture. Before you get angry, check your facts.

Josh Bowsher says:

Re: Uh, Bush doesn't control the Supreme Court

Bush is just a greedy piece of shit. Our gas prices go up while he is in office and “coincedently” his whole family has lots of stock in it. Also, he is a moron, because he can’t even read correctly and he is a republican! Right now he is like LBJ in Vietnam, letting our troops keep dying for no reason. Need I say more!

Kilroy says:

Re: Re:Uh, Bush doesn't control the Supreme Court

First of all, it was the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who passed this border piece, not the Supreme Court.

Second, “The Ninth Circuit is the most Democratic Circuit Court in the nation. 67% (16 out of 24) of its active judges were appointed by a Democratic President.”

src:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9th_Circuit_Court_of_Appeals

Third, how is this any different then the border patrol digging through your briefcase, viewing all your paper records; making you unlock your suitcase so they can have access inside, etc?

Finally, what is the likelyhood that a border patrol officer wants to go through your computer blindly and search thousands of folders, files, etc for incriminating evidence. My guess is that unless you give them a good reason to, they won’t be bothered.

Adam says:

Re: Re: Re:Uh, Bush doesn't control the Supreme Co

“Third, how is this any different then the border patrol digging through your briefcase, viewing all your paper records; making you unlock your suitcase so they can have access inside, etc?”

Digging through a briefcase or suitcase is far more reasonable. You can’t store drugs on your hard drive.

“Finally, what is the likelyhood that a border patrol officer wants to go through your computer blindly and search thousands of folders, files, etc for incriminating evidence. My guess is that unless you give them a good reason to, they won’t be bothered.”

Good point. I go fishing in Canada every summer. If they ask to see something, even if it would be incredibly inconvenient for you to get at, you say “Sure thing,” and get started. When they see that you have nothing to hide, they generally don’t bother to look. If you hand over your laptop, they’re not going to do an exhaustive search. If you make them get a search warrant, and waste their time, they’ll waste your time with the most invasive search they can justify, just to get even.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Applying to the airports?

Have you been out of the country? Do you have a pasport? I HAVE travelled all over Asia, WITH my laptop and what I get is a much more pleasant experience than the people hired under “affirmative action” who say “this passport is not computer readable” and detain you for four hours without question.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re: Applying to the airports?

Have you been out of the country? Do you have a pasport?

Yes to both.



I HAVE travelled all over Asia, WITH my laptop and what I get is a much more pleasant experience than the people hired under “affirmative action” who say “this passport is not computer readable” and detain you for four hours without question.

Never had a problem in the US. Asian airports get fussy, questioning who I really am, making aggressive luggage inspections.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yeah, dorkus, nobody (except maybe you?)demanded a more authoritarian federal government. bushy and friends saw an opportunity to make a power grab, and they took it.

Not only did el presidente bush break his campaign promises and spit on public opinion, but he wiped his arse with the Constitution and is de-Americanizing America. Shame on him and his supporters.

As far as Dems are concerned, it’s pretty hard to blame them for any of the mismanagement of the last several years when 1. they are continually accused of never having solutions and, oh yeah, 2. they have absolutely no power. No executive branch, no judicial branch, and neither half of the legislative branches. Maybe if Republicans would spend a little less time on flag burning and gay marriage, they could come off as marginally competent….

Use Steganography (user link) says:

I have a better idea...

Encryption is good, but a stupid choice because it creates suspicion.

You should try using steganography with encryption instead. Here is a sample program I wrote (it is very poorly implemented (the gui is terrible) and maybe not stable) but does demonstrate the power. It will slightly change the color of the pixels in any given bmp photo to create space for you to store data. In fact, you can take a screen shot of your encoded photo, paste that as a new file in photoshop and still be able to read the contents, since it is only trimming the least significant bits. Try it out, its free, and a wimpy program, but I use it to store my accounts and passwords. Please do not criticize it, it was just a personal scratch item I wrote. I guess I could have gone all out and made it nice, but hey, I have a life beyond writing free code.

Sean says:

Here's a thought

Hmmm, if you don’t do anything wrong, then what is there to even worry about? I mean REALLY people, is there anything that is so private that we need to “Hide it”? The whole reason to hide something, is simpley because it is wrong. Why do you not want someone else to have it? Should it be kept somewhere else more appropriate?

-Just a thought

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Here's a thought

“Hmmm, if you don’t do anything wrong, then what is there to even worry about? I mean REALLY people, is there anything that is so private that we need to “Hide it”? The whole reason to hide something, is simpley because it is wrong. Why do you not want someone else to have it? Should it be kept somewhere else more appropriate?

-Just a thought”

well, i don’t want everyon in the world to know what i game, what i keep on my harddrive, what music i like, things of that nature. if it’s wrong to “hide what is right” why do we locks on our doors, why are our houses not see through? we expect privacy. would you want someone to come in and look through your dirty laundry? snoop around in your attic? i know i woudln’t. and with that being said, i wouldn’t want anyone to see what i do on my computer.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Here's a thought

How bout those explicit videos you and your wife or girlfriend made that tend to keep you company on those long trips? I’m not sure G.I. Joe needs a look at those.

If people are dumb enough to make videos like that in the first place, then they deserve to be inspected at length.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Here's a thought

“How bout those explicit videos you and your wife or girlfriend made that tend to keep you company on those long trips? I’m not sure G.I. Joe needs a look at those.

If people are dumb enough to make videos like that in the first place, then they deserve to be inspected at length.”

well…as a legal adult in the usa, i have the right to make personal home movies. if my consenting partner and i want to make a video of us ‘doin it’ we can. it’s for our personal use. not for some border patrolman to watch it. i’m not dumb for making it either.

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: Here's a thought

So those dirty picks of my boy/girlfriend that use to keep me company while I’m away…

That sensitive research data that I’m bringing back with me…

Any personal info that I keep about myself (encrypted or not)…

Anything that is encrypted. In the eyes of most security forces encryption = suspicion instead encryption = safety (which is what you intended.)

Care to explain how “The whole reason to hide something, is simpley because it is wrong.”? Or does that mean hiding anything is automatically wrong. Remember that the next time someone asks you for your voicemail, email, and login passwords.

Just a response says:

Re: Here's a thought

Simple, say your bank acct info is easily accessable, but only via password-protected encryption… They want that password so they can do whatever the hell it is they are doing. They now have your bank acct info.

I’d much rather trust my own devices for personal security than put my trust in the theory that disgruntled employees do not exist.

doubledoh says:

Re: Here's a thought

Hmmm, if you don’t do anything wrong, then what is there to even worry about? I mean REALLY people, is there anything that is so private that we need to “Hide it”? The whole reason to hide something, is simpley because it is wrong. Why do you not want someone else to have it? Should it be kept somewhere else more appropriate?

It is this gullible groupthinking mentaility that will be the demise of freedom in so-called ‘free’ nations. What you fail to realize is that while YOU may not care about privacy and independance, many other people do. Just because you crave the attention that security personal gives you by rifling through your personal property without your permission…doesn’t mean other people do. Yes, some people do ‘hide’ things. Hiding things isn’t an indication of wrongdoing…it’s an indication of someone wanting to maintain their privacy. Perhaps they have some risque photos of their wife. Nothing ‘wrong’ with that…but certainly a private matter. Perhaps they are carrying proprietary trade secrets for their company…nothing ‘wrong’ with that…but certainly a private matter.

What really irks me is that you have the audacity to say that someone’s private information should be kept somewhere more ‘appropriate.’ What could possibly be more appropriate than your own property!? My laptop is MINE. No one elses. No one has the right to search through my private data…ever. If you fail to see how it is INAPPROPRIATE for the state to perform warantless searches without probable cause, then you have failed and your mentaility will fail us all.

Thanks for being one of the mindless drones that actually believes what the government does is in our best interest. Moron.

Mau (user link) says:

HIPAA vs. Border Security hmmmm..

Something funny will happen if you work for the healthcare industry, your laptop is iron clad encrypted (because health information privacy law requires you to do so), and if you are flying back from a trip, will be funny if they ask you to decrypt such data, hence, be in violation of HIPAA laws for disclosing personally identifiable data from your customers/members, or whatever you have encrypted. Quite interesting

Anonymous Coward says:

“Hmmm, if you don’t do anything wrong, then what is there to even worry about? I mean REALLY people, is there anything that is so private that we need to “Hide it”? The whole reason to hide something, is simpley because it is wrong. Why do you not want someone else to have it? Should it be kept somewhere else more appropriate?

-Just a thought”

That’s an idiotic statement – once you let government have that kind of control – they’ll start going further… Next thing you know, the thought police will be in effect. Say the wrong thing – well, you just did something wrong – off to jail with you.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Bush is just a greedy piece of shit. Our gas prices go up while he is in office and “coincedently” his whole family has lots of stock in it. Also, he is a moron, because he can’t even read correctly and he is a republican! Right now he is like LBJ in Vietnam, letting our troops keep dying for no reason. Need I say more!”

Yes… maybe Bush can’t read, but you can’t write – not only are those sentences pathetic, but you misspelled “coincidently”.

Real sharp 🙂

Jake says:

You are all idiots

Why don’t you stick to the topic at hand, because no one cares about any of your political opinions, if they did someone would ask you about it, then after hearing it, promptly smack you because you’re an idiot. Personally I think if you don’t do anything illegal (i.e. child porn) then you have nothing to worry about and the government can be as invasive as they want.

Takes one to know one says:

Re: You are all idiots

“Why don’t you stick to the topic at hand, because no one cares about any of your political opinions, if they did someone would ask you about it, then after hearing it, promptly smack you because you’re an idiot. Personally I think if you don’t do anything illegal (i.e. child porn) then you have nothing to worry about and the government can be as invasive as they want.”

So you wouldn’t mind them strip searching you, your (possible) significant other, your (possible) children, etc… To look for whatever they damn well please?

If you’re going to blindly follow The Leader, what’s the point of making any ostensive comments at all? Remember, they will protect you, they will tell you what to do, they will tell you how to think.

It’s ignorant people like you, Jake, that make this world the way it is.

Evil Bastard says:

WTF?

“You are all idiots by Jake on Jul 27th, 2006 @ 6:59am

Why don’t you stick to the topic at hand, because no one cares about any of your political opinions, if they did someone would ask you about it, then after hearing it, promptly smack you because you’re an idiot. Personally I think if you don’t do anything illegal (i.e. child porn) then you have nothing to worry about and the government can be as invasive as they want.”

You miss the USSR don’t you?

Anonymous Coward says:

People have a right to privacy! Just because I don’t do anything illegal does not mean I want people knowing everything about me. What about the bad people who would be glad to get their hands on my personal information. I agree that our rights are often abused, just look at the ACLU. I mean they do get carried away at times and end up protecting criminals but they got the right idea in general. If we give the governmet an inch, they’ll take a mile.

In closing, the patriot act was probably a bad idea to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Did anyone actually RTFA??

“It says right in the article: “They asked to search his laptop, and Romm agreed.”

Moral of the story: DON’T AGREE, make them get a warrant.”

if you make them, they will detain you, and ifyou have important business schedueled, or another flight or whatnot….you could be delayed.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Wrong" things that I might want to keep private

To continue the list….

-Corporate info, ie concerning merger

-Financial data, including my bank account numbers

-E-books (esp. concerning things I may not want everyone to know, ie “Coping with Cancer/AIDS,” “How to Get Girls,” “Xena: Warrior Princess”)

-Photos that while not explicit, may be embarassing

-Personal journal type writing

-Something that might offend someone for whatever reason (ie “Right-wingers are destroying the country”)

-My awesome idea for a new invention

-My private emails and auto-logged instant messages

-All the info from my PDA and cell phone, since they sync with my computer

Not to mention, some idiot border cop could do damage to your system, either through accidentally deleting files or physical damage. And what if I’m trying to conserve my battery for the rest of my trip (a common problem of mine)?

These anti-privacy people are such morons… By their definition, the entire bush administration is wrong, considering their secretiveness (then again…most of the stuff bush hides IS wrong). Maybe they need to leave their computer screen for a few minutes and get in touch with the real world.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yet Another Intelligence Agency?

Do a google search for Team B in the CIA. Look at the names of the people who made up team B. Then look at all the crazy shit Team B said and what happened to the director of the CIA when he disputed their findings.

Then look at who took over as director.

Then fast forward 30 years and look at this administration, it’s tactics, and it’s results.

It’s all the usual suspects.

EastSide says:

“Hmmm, if you don’t do anything wrong, then what is there to even worry about?”

That logic is hogwash. Because I do not want my privacy invaded does not equal or imply that I am doing anything illegal.

I once told police I objected to them searching my car. I went through the indignance of them getting a warrant, bringing a drug dog, and searching. And they found ZERO as I knew they would. I then sued for being illegally detained AND WON. There was no probable cause to be pulled over. i was not cited for any traffic offense. A rookie cop was trying to make a name for himself. And I beat him. BAd.

Jeremy (user link) says:

The problem here is search without reason to suspect. Americans should have the right to expect their privacy to stay intact when there is no reason to suspect them of illegal or treasonous activity.

And for all of you blaming Bush. This would have happened whether he was in office or not. This was a Court case stemming from actions of agents in the field. Bush is not in direct control of either of those events. Bush did not write the policies of the border patrol and he did not write the court opinion. Assign blame where it belongs and you might just be able to make some headway against the problem. Keep focusing on your attention in the wrong place and you’ll never get anywhere.

Drawing any conclusions about his opinion on the matter without hearing it from him personally is making the same mistake those border agents made. Guilt by assocation.

Takes one to know one says:

Re: Re:

“It’s ignorant people like you, Jake, that make this world the way it is.”

and dont forget the people who forget that the american continent extends all the way to the south pole

Agreed. I’m a US citizen and I wince every time I hear people refer to this country as “America.”

EH says:

America

“when you refer to america you are talking about both south and north”

Actually, no, you are talking about “The United States of…”. It’s standard. The rest of North America doesn’t have America in the country’s name. I know, it’s tough to make that logical leap, but give it a whack, you’ll feel better for the effort anyway. Then you can go back to coloring.

wolff000 says:

Simply Hide Your Laptop

Just stick your laptop someplace odd but not too od. As in a hidden compartment in the trunk may not be great cause if they do find it you will be detained until they figure out if your clean or not. If how every you just slide it under your seat in the kids diaper bag they are alot less likely to notice. Not like you have to disclose what electronics you have with you. Or simply install an oddball flavor of linux on a differnet partition and be sure it is open when you go through the check point. If they want to check it let them just ask that they not reboot cause your battery is faulty and doesn’t always come back up when restarted. The odds of anyone at border patrol knowing how to work one of the rarer breeds of linux is little to none. That and why does it matter remember an honest man has nothing to hide. I don’t support this kind of search without cause but if that’s the way it is you simply make your voice heard at the polls.

LAMBOFGOD says:

Red States

Hello, I couldn’t help myself after reading the blog to post. For everyone that says “well if your not doing anything wrong then you shouldn’t have anything to hide and government should be as invasive as you want” let me just say you are completely missing the point because it’s about privacy, freedom, and loosing yet another right not privilege. I can also see how you may have made the mistake of voting for Bush but to still stick up for him after long years of retarted leadership, can you SHEEP. If GUNS GOD and GAYS was your reasoning for voting your an IDIOT who needs to pull your head out your ass. You all probably still believe the towers collapsed from fire because the honest FEMA said so. NEWS FLASH explosives inside the buildings was the cause of the implosion and resulted in the outside falling inward. I can’t say our government was behind it but I do know a certain buddy of BUSH Sr. who miraculously became landlord during BUSH Sr. administration made 99 billion dollars in insurance money. I will check the blog in coming days to see the reaction because I know people like JAKE in earlier post will have to wait for FOX news to re-asure himself that there is no corruption and our govt cares.

Jamie says:

Re: RE: Uh, Bush doesn't control the Supreme Court

Lets get some facts straight before blaming this on Bush.

The court that made this ruling is the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Not the Supreme Court.

Furthermore, the Supreme court case that the ruling is based on, was a case from 1985. Last time I checked, Bush wasn’t President in 1985 and had not picked anyone for the supreme court at that time.

U guessed it says:

Yikes!!

These kind of comments really make me wonder about the education of the average American public!

1. First of all, G. Bush is not capable of passing Supreme Court Law(This goes for the Red States too)! Yikes, let’s return to 3rd grade and study the 3 branches of Government shall we?

2. As for proposing members for the Supreme Court, yes, Bush did do that. 2 out of 7 panel members!! The others were brought in by previous presidents. So, um, where is the logic here??

Bottom line is, it is our governments obligation to those who are living within the confines of the US borders to ensure that they are doing their very best to protect us from terrorist attacks. This is a very real threat folks or do you forget 9/11? Forget the argument of some of those were American citizens because it doesn’t fly in my book. Let’s take a look at the rally that just took place in Florida, where our own American citizens pledged their allegiance to Al Qaida. Sometimes the enemy doesn’t come from without, but from within.

I know it really seems to suck that we are losing some of our freedoms, but when it comes to border crossings, is that really a freedom you want to give to someone who may have terrorist blueprints on his hard drive? It isn’t just for pedophiles that this law is being held firm. Is it going to catch them all? Surely not! Let me ask you though, if he/she did get through with that material on his/her laptop, who are YOU going to blame when they get into the US and wreak havoc on YOUR city, YOUR neighborhood, YOUR family? Hmmm, me thinks it will be the very same prez who you now think is being far to liberal with your personal privacy.

If you think this is such a terrible injustice, voice your opinion on something more than just an internet blog. Use your voice for something more than just whining in a semi public, anonymous forum! Actually do some research on what you are so “anti” and then act on it. Geez, I get so irritated with stuff like this! Everyone has an opinion…sorta like assholes, but then no one wants to actually do anything, they just sit around and let that same government they distrust SO much make all the decisions. Puleeze! Educate yourself and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Stupified says:

Re: Yikes!!

1. If you really think that it’s three branches of government, cut and dried, you are being very naiive. How about the corporate branch? While it does not officially make policy, politicians are slaves to its will. One of the most powerful wings of the corporate sector is the military industrial complex. You know, the body that makes our economy work (unfortunately). They have a huge stake in government (over half of government spending!!!)How about the media? It has the power to shape public opinion. The powers that be are not isolated. They exist in communities within the power structure. It’s a competition for power. The same people who were in Nixon and Reagan’s cabinets are in Bush’s cabinet. Now check out the heads of the national bureaucracy and you’ll see the same thing…. cronyism! Nothing new… but this lot is a bit more power hungry than previous ones. Go check out the Project For a New American Century and the documents that they release… then make the connections to the people in power and actions that take place. Sorry, this is a bit incoherent… but if you aren’t cynical yet, you are looking in the wrong places.

2. Same thing as before… although the supreme court does not take orders from anyone, they were put in their positions by political appointment based on demonstrated ideology. The majority of these justices were put in office by conservative politicians.

3. What actions would you suggest for people who feel marginalized, isolated, and powerless? How about people that do organize, but are essentially invisible because corporate media refuses to cover them? It’s not that people aren’t trying to “DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT”, it’s that the channels to do so are very narrow.

Also, the agencies that are responsible for national security surveillance have a proven track record of spying on American citizens and infiltrating peaceful organizations. They haven’t proven themselves to be trustworthy in the first place. I think it is really

And one last thing, try not to think in absolutes as if there are only two ways about any issue. The world is a bit more complex than you try to make it. It’s a nice bubble to live in, for sure, but if your ultimate goal is truth, you may have to observe a bit more closely.

Be cynical, skeptical… but don’t forget to be smart.

Anonymous Coward says:

Encription is good for keeping the information out of the hands of criminals. It is not such a good tool for keeping it out of the hands of our govt.

You won’t have to unencript the data for a border crossing guard, just don’t expect to have them let you back into the country.

All the other bullshit about rights and freedom is all just a bunch of tinfoil hat wearing idiots spouting off a bunch of crap.

Encript? says:

Re: Re:

Encription is good for keeping the information out of the hands of criminals. It is not such a good tool for keeping it out of the hands of our govt.

You won’t have to unencript the data for a border crossing guard, just don’t expect to have them let you back into the country.

All the other bullshit about rights and freedom is all just a bunch of tinfoil hat wearing idiots spouting off a bunch of crap.

US Govt: *groans* “Who’s yer daddy?” *smack*
You: “You, you’re my daddy!”
US Govt: *smack* “What? I can’t hear you???”
You: “You’re my daddy! You’re my daddy!”

There’s a reason why the US government has strict laws on allowing certain encryption methods to travel outside of the country. If top mathematicians and cryptologists consider a method secure, and companies like RSA can offer up to $200,000 USD to simply crack a single code… The US govt doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Why do you think they tried to force encryption companies to allow backdoor methods to their algos? It’s because many are so hardened, they would take millions of years even in large-scaled cluster farms to crack.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ignorance is bliss

Why don’t you actually read the article before posting. This ruling was made by a three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (a very liberal court by any stretch), not by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruling mentioned was from 1985. Bush may have his share of problems, but you can’t blame this one on him.

Lay Person says:

Interesting...

Interesting…

I don’t quite understand this border business. Is this procedure just for non-US citizens or anyone coming acrosss the border?

If it includes US citizens, who cares? What could possibly be so important on a laptop? If I have something THAT important to transport over the border, I would just FTP the data to a server and never even consider someone trying to get it off a laptop.

Is it porn they’re after? If so, I’m sure the pronographers have a more sound way to secure they’re product.

If it’s that important, upload it or burn it then stash it…end of story.

Bill says:

you know.....

Don’t try to deffend Bush. It doesn’t matter if you love him or hate him…..the fact is that it’s HIS administration that is pushing these laws into effect. THESE ARE HIS PEOPLE IN OFFICE.

Note to U Guessed IT: Did we forget that daddy Bush was one of those previous presidents? You your self rant of people needing to educate them selves……but all you do in your post is perpetuate the fear mongering.

The fact is that if people want to be perfectly safe, they will have to give up all their rights. So it comes down to this…….do you want to live your life? Or have your government live it for you because there is an off chance that some nut job is going to kill you?

Guess what guys? Terrorists aren’t the only people who take lives. Millions of people die every single day. They die naturaly. They die to stupidity, accidents, murder, sickness, and natural disasters. Death is everywhere. Living in fear is no way to live.

The only people who want to be protected by the government are the sheep who are so affraid of dying that they CAN’T live their lives. These people come from all walks of life. They could have six figure incomes, beautiful families and many possesions. Or they could live in a trailer, work at a popular fast food chain, and drink domestic beer infront of a 20″ TV every night.

The above post is right about one thing…PLEASE educate your selves. But don’t do it by listening to every crack pot that rants on television or on a blog. We live in the age of digital information. It’s all here…..you just need to look it up and read it for your self. Don’t just read other peoples comments on it. All that does is continue the spread of missinformation.

Lay Person says:

Anyone for Bush is a FUCKING MORON!

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who is for Bush should just be quiet.

You have nothing to say and your reasoning is skewed. Not that you don’t believe in what you think but your method of thought is flawed. It is clear in all the world around us from New Orleans, to New York, to Baghdad that Bush and his cabinet are completely and totally incompetent.

Anything else is total and complete nonsense either generated by aformentioned powers or perpetuated by their subjects who are even more thoughtless than them.

Joshua says:

Privacy Politics

I don’t believe for a second that this kind of decision making and thinking comes from only one party of government. Neither party as a whole cares about privacy and both tend to actively try and invade it. Republicans generally use “national security” as their big excuse and Democrats tend to adopt the classic “think of the children” approach.

There are probably a few politicians, on both sides, that care about privacy, however they don’t speak up and make their voices heard. I guess it’s bad taste to interfere with an ally’s agenda. It seems at times that the only reason we still have any privacy is that both sides tend to try and shoot down the other side at every possible opportunity.

Mike (user link) says:

sigh

Everyone in opposition is missing the point. You shouldn’t have to hide your laptop or encrypt non-sensitive files because some high school dropout affirmative action hire is bored or over zealous to try on his/her new found power shoes.

If this happens to me I’ll stay there as long as it takes but there is no way the OS is booting past the login screen.

dorpus says:

Re: sigh

Everyone in opposition is missing the point. You shouldn’t have to hide your laptop or encrypt non-sensitive files because some high school dropout affirmative action hire is bored or over zealous to try on his/her new found power shoes.

Really? So do you know for a fact that the Border Patrol hires high school dropouts? I haven’t heard of any government agencies today that hire such people. Are you sure they still have affirmative action, or is it illegal now?

jeff says:

it’d be kinda fun to go to mexico, buy a laptop and fill up the hdd with 38gb of text and image files full of nothing but LOLs and then encrypt it, come on back to the states and when they ask me to give them the key, tell them to let me fist their wives first, then hang out while they take the time to decrypt the shit. retirement is so boring…

The One Eyed Man says:

A word on encryption

Steganography is practically worthless when used without encryption. Steganography can be used to *conceal* that encryption is being used.

Most good disk encryption tools let you conceal the fact that you are using encryption at all. Check out http://www.truecrypt.org

A simple method for concealing that you are using encryption is to create an unused partition, and have your encryption software use that as a block device. Casual or even intesive examination of your laptop will only reveal data on the primary partition (encrypted or unencrypted), to which you can provide access for inspection. Confidential information is contained on a separate partition that does not show up until you run the encryption software to “mount” it.

If the border guards think you are concealing something, they will be more suspicious, so don’t give them a reason to check. Hide the encryption software (stuff it in a folder for another program), and use a separate partition for the encrypted data. If they do suspect or discover that you have encrypted something, they are welcome to hand your laptop to the NSA for all you care — *if* they manage to break the encryption and decrypt the partition within a reasonable amount of time, I think they can be trusted with anything I might have on my laptop.

If the border guard deletes data or damages the machine, this can be addressed in civil court.

There are export restriction laws regarding encryption software. There are usually exceptions made for US citizens carrying a personal or company-owned asset to a foreign country where the encryption software itself is not allowed to be sold or used. If not, use a lower “exportable” grade of encryption when you travel there. Mexico, Canada, and most NATO countries are “trusted”, and strong encryption software is allowed to be sold or used in these countries.

As for memory sticks and other removable media, based on the article and the comments, I would expect these to be searched. It’s probably easier and will reduce suspicion to just simply *not* use them.

riceman says:

Food for thought

A computer with soft (electronic) copies of documents is no different than a briefcase, purse, or backpack with hard copies of documents. Likewise with electronic contraband vs physical. To think that having ‘h0t pr0n’ is safer or more private because it is on a PC vs having a bunch of polaroids stuffed into your carry-on is an un-informed position to take. Customs procedures are relatively unchanged for the past several decades. If you are a known/wanted criminal, you will be arrested. If you are a previously convicted felon, you are given more scrutiny. If you have contraband, it will be confiscated and you may be fined and/or arrested. Technology is not somehow immune to how customs has operated for all these years nor guarantees you any special privacy rights. It just allows you a better chance to get away with doing something illegal or morally questionable. There was nothing bizarre with what had happened to the guy in the article. He was stupid and got caught with his hand in the cookie jar; no different than if he had a stack of 3×5 glossy photos in his jacket pocket that was discovered or more appropriate, photos of child pornography that were hidden behind legitimate photographs of his family in his wallet, or sandwiched behind subscription cards in a magazine.

There is no expectation of privacy at customs. You are not dumb if you make a porno or buy adult novelty products. You are dumb if you take it with you on your trip expecting it to be private. Customs aside, what if your laptop got stolen and your hot home video got posted on the Internet or was sold as amateur porn? Remember “European Vacation”?

We can argue both sides of the issue about how evil the Democrats or Republicans are and how one particular side or President is screwing us over. The sad fact of the matter is that our government has been in a downward spiral since after the Great Depression and World War II. Our “greatest” generation failed us by not ensuring the government stayed out of our affairs and allowing it to swell to unimaginable heights of corruption. The “we deserve” mentality has permeated our government, truly creating a big brother that most Americans cannot or refuse to live without, like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

Eisenhower warned us of the danger of the Military Industrial complex, but nobody listened. We’ve been too afraid of communists during the Red Scare, the Soviets during the Cold War, drugs during the 80’s and 90’s and terrorism (domestic and foreign) during the 90’s and 00’s, to truly see that all these ‘wars’ we’re ‘fighting’ should never have superceded our Constitutional rights. Yet, we’ve done nothing because the same jackasses in Congress that vote for Real ID and the Patriot Act, are also redistributing our (over) taxed money into social programs and local projects into our districts. Hell, what’s the harm in a little loss of freedom as long as Rep so-and-so gets us $150million to build a bridge that only a dozen people with use or pay for my golden years because I was too busy trying to impress my neighbors with expensive crap than saving some money?

Corporations aren’t to blame, however convenient it may be. We are… for electing and re-electing the same corrupt politicians, regardless of their party, over and over again. We -allow- them to succumb to lobbyists and PACs, whether they be unions, corporations, or hippies with lots of money, by reinforcing their behavior with our votes. We fund the lobbyists agendas by consuming their goods or donating money to them.

Affecting change in government is as simple as changing your voting habits. Don’t vote for someone just because their your favored political party, unless you have to because you live in a state that makes you register an affiliation, as both parties are pretty much the same anymore. Simply vote against the encumbant, don’t let them stay in there long enough to be seduced by the lobbyists. You can even affect change by being choosy about where you spend your money. Don’t like ‘corporate greed’? Buy products from companies that aren’t run by a-holes. Buy from mom and pop stores. Or do you not practice what you preach so you can save some $$$ at the Wal-Mart?

Non-moron says:

You're not "in the USA" at the border

Hello!! When the border patrol inspects you and your belongings, they are determining whether or not to allow you into the USA, not to throw you out. This is necessary to avoid deportation hearings for everyone walking off a plane at an iinternational airport. Only international law applies to you there, NOT the US Constitution. The Constitution only applies when you are IN the country. Border entries are more like embassies.

I think the movie “The Terminal” makes a great demonstration on this as it shows you are not IN the USA until the Border Patrol or Customs says you are. This is international law designed to allow nations to kick you out and say they never allowed you in in the first place. This is old law folks.

It’s liberals that make up passages in the Constitution that do not exist in the first place. “Gay rights”, “Abortion”, “Separation of Church and State” etc. Liberals might want to actually read the Constitution before they go screaming to a lawyer or “moveon.org”. Geez, give it up with the “blame it on Bush” thing for once. Much of the problems we have today are a result of poor Liberal policy from the past (Congress was mostly Democrats for nearly half a century) that have come back to bite us in the butt and now, as usual, the conservatives have to clean up the mess (middle east, economy, terrorism, etc)

What a bunch of weaners.

AC says:

Re: You're not "in the USA" at the border

I’ve never heard of any “made up passages of the constitution” regarding gays or abortions. I think you are the one making stuff up. Also the bill of rights is pretty clear on the separation of church and state and this has been backed up in courts and legal precedent:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

“The conservatives have to clean up the mess”? When will they start this; so far all I’ve seen them do is make things much worse. It’s pretty sad now that even that some prominent GOP members have said that this administration has created a proto-facist state. It’s pretty obvious you get spoon fed your “information”.

Dan says:

This is not new. The 4th Amendment has never applied at a border crossing, which has nothing to do with this or any other administration. The first ruling on this was long before this Adminstration came into office.

They could always search anything and everything when you cross an international border. It’s a right of soveriegnty that every nation exercises. Yes, every nation can and does this when it suits their need. To prevent problems they just don’t do it to everyone, but only samples.

International airports are considered border crossings so to those that were wondering they can search there too.

This article was written by a misinformed alarmist trying to stir up conspiracy theorists. Read the history on this and become educated before you make rash judgements that show nothing more than your political affiliation.

lawyer says:

The 4th Amendment has never applied at the border. Border guards have always had the authority to search you and your belongings when attempting to enter the USA. This was the law before George Bush was even born. It was the law before his daddy and granddaddy were born. Its real simple, if you dont want to be searched, dont attempt to enter the USA. That being said, the chances of your hard drive getting searched are slim and none. They dont have time. About the only ones that are going to get searched is if the agent has some reason, at least in his own mind, that indicates it needs to be searched. Its getting old to see people whining about losing their “rights” when in fact they never had the right to come into the USA without being searched.

Ezight says:

Hard drives

Hard drive ??? what’s that mr border agent?

I use a SLAX LIVE CD, i don’t need a hard drive in my laptop.

I just ftp to my server stateside and access my stuff that way.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

A laptop without a hard drive is useless to them.
What will stump them even more is seeing a fully operational OS on a CD.

HAHAHAHAHAHA

Keep the laptop jerks i still got my software on my server that i access remotely.

Tim Perry says:

Tourism

Thats it! I am never going to the United States again! I already got a hard time from the security guards at the airport last time I went there and when I got back I learned that they could have searched through my bags without my knowledge, even if I didn’t cross the border. That makes me quite nervous since I don’t ever like shaking someones hand. Now I learn they can look on my laptop!? They say its the same thing as any hard document. Except hard documents are not password protected. They better not expect me to give them my password because they have no reason to look there.

I guess thats what it boils down to they have no reason to look there, some may mention child porn, but the people looking at the laptop is the Department of Homeland Security and Homeland Security does not investigate child porn.

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