Denied Entrance Into The US Thanks To A Google Search Of Your Permanent Record

from the think-of-all-those-myspace-kids-who-will-never-be-able-to-travel dept

For a long time, people have talked about how Google has effectively created the infamous “permanent record” teachers always warned us about in school. And, now, it appears that it’s not just being used for background checks on dates and job reference checks, but for official government purposes as well. Joe McEnaney writes in to alert us to a story of a Canadian man who was denied entrance to the US after border guards did a Google search on his name and discovered a peer-reviewed academic paper he’d written years earlier that mentioned his own LSD use over 30 years ago. Setting aside any thoughts one way or the other on whether or not that should be a criteria for entering the US, just think of what this means for teens today who are discussing their lives very publicly on sites like MySpace. We’ve already wondered what will happen once the MySpace generation runs for office, but right now they might just want to be careful leaving and entering the country.

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Comments on “Denied Entrance Into The US Thanks To A Google Search Of Your Permanent Record”

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Chris says:

Re: Wth

You are allowed into the US if you tried LSD 30 years ago, providing you say so on the form you have to fill in before entering the country. Therefore if he didn’t declare it and they did some digging then he lied. I think the logic is, if you lied about that, then you probably lied about the rest of your form…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Wth

Yes, BUT…the results found in a “google” search of public domain content is not in any way, shape or form certified to be factual and free from error. Therefore, if he didn’t declare using LSD 30 years ago, finding content in the public domain via Google suggesting he did may raise eyebrows, but is by no means irrefutable proof that he did LSD 30 year ago.

Stater of the Obvious says:

Re: Re: Hey you! Outta the pool!

the comment was NOT that LSD use was stupid, but rather that sharing all one’s inane activities in a public forum without regard to consequence is stupid. if you read the comment, you would understand that. if you are indeed capable of distinguishing the fine nuances of written communication. for my own opinion on that matter, I must agree, too many dumb people here already, can’t do much about that, but keeping out even more of them we can do something about. “Hey, you! Outta the pool!” (the gene pool that is)

SF says:

Re: Re:

It’s too late to keep the stupid people out of America. This would be very hard to do as it would require an almost complete evacuation of the country, preferably to Iraq to help clean up the mess that was made there. I propose that the following people are the first to go:
– ‘Dubya’ and anyone that voted for him.
– Anyone that works for the RIAA, MPAA, or any other such association, and their affiliated record labels and studios.
– The senator that said the internet is ‘a series of tubes’.
– The judge that thought he could sentence a criminal to probation in another country.

Justine says:

Re: Re: Re:

Raises hand. Yes I would be the first one deported because I was foolish enough to drink the Republican (would that be red) Kool-Aid and I voted for Bush in 2000. I am a conservative who was mugged and beaten over the back of the head with a baseball bat by my own political party. I voted for Kerry last time, but clearly there weren’t enough of us disillusioned former Bush supporters to make a damned bit of difference. And yes I deserve to have my ignorant ass deported for casting a vote for Bush in 2000.

Jess says:

Re: Re: Re:

I was thinking the same thing. But it was more like: “Why don’t we send everyone who believes that global warming will destroy the world to somewhere nice and cold and is getting colder….Like Antarctica. Then hear them gripe about how cold it is and keep them there until they admit it was an idiotic thing to believe.”

—I hate politicians….They screw up so many things…Like my life…and I hate actors for that and a lot of other reasons….

Robert Wilson (profile) says:

Re: Denied Entrance

Anonymous Coward

Think about it, this is not something that has affected one individual wanting to visit from Canada. It is really about everything posted on the web, being on the web and in some server, forever including our posted comments. Just imagine “My Space” never going away. Just imagine your email and this email never going away. That is what it really is about. The people you post anything about them selves on the web affectively give up control of the information. Try doing a Google search of your name, or address, or phone number, or any other little piece of your personal life and see what you find, maybe nothing if your lucky or maybe something you wish you had never written in the first place.

Nick says:

Re: too easy to get into the united states

Who the hell are you to say its too easy, my wife and child were denied entrance. Because of the length of their trip it was cheaper to buy the return ticket seperate, that was enough for u.s. customs to keep her in custody for almost 4 hours with a 19 month old then tell her she was not allowed to enter the united states for 8 months. this is rediculoius

earl stone says:

and lsd wasnt even illegal then

it became illegal in 1969 in canada. so the same arguement used by bill clinton, that when he smoked pot in the UK it was not actually illegal at the time, should have applied.

coincidentally a few months after this incident, the rolling stones arrived for their tour of america. keith richards with them. not only has he admitted using drugs, but had been arrested and convicted for drug offences. so maybe keith didnt show up in their google search?

Justine says:

Paco 1, Canucks 0

If it’s a guy named Paco who’s sneaking over the border to work at a car wash in L.A., a job that Americans won’t do, at least not for four dollars an hour, then it’s A-OK, all systems go. But we’ll deny entrance to a highly educated, literate thinker, researcher and potential asset to American society. God help us all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Border Politics, I’ve got a couple friends who have been denied entry into Canada for misdemeandor’s and traffic violations that happened to them 4 decades ago (Unless off course they choose to pay $800 to get a piece of paper from the queen that says they have been rehabilitated). His mistake was signing the statement saying he violated a US drug law. Up until that point he was mearly being harassed by the Border Patrol. Once he signed the statement, he became a criminal. Too bad really, with all the real criminals running around, we are bickering over things like this.

Guess it justifies their jobs.

John Doe says:

When you really want revenge...

Just sign your worst enemy’s name to rude pictures and politically incorrect opinions – have “them” comment on the biggest blogs. Don’t forget to make acidic outrageous remarks on watchdog org websites ie. AClU & JDL – For more fun do the same using your least desired political candidate. After awhile, everyone will start doing it…. & it just won’t matter anymore….

A Coward, Maybe - But Not a Fool says:

Live an upright life?
I may be waxing overly philosophical, but what is an upright life?
Are our preachers, priests, and mullahs really “upright” people because they dress in robes and rant against “sin”?
A not-so-long while back, “upright” also included owning a dozens of slaves at your ranch.
Can we really judge what’s right for another person if we change our definition of right every few years?

Brian says:

This has got to be a modern myth. Do boarder guards have time to do a google search and read peer-reviewed journal articles. Moreover, one has to often pay to view journal articles. Some cites are open access from say 1996 to one year ago (you have to pay to see the most recent stuff), and the publishers just haven’t bothered to bring their older stuff into a digital format. I think the guy’s LSD use has really affected his memory of exactly why he was not admitted to the US.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Have you ever travelled across the Canada-US border? You drive up to primary inspection. hand over your identification, answer whatever questions are asked and do whatever the border personnel ask you to do (like opening doors, like getting out of your vehicle so they can ‘inspect’ your trunk and so on). If all is fine, they let you go on your merry way.

Sometimes, they may not like your answers so they send you to secondary inspection. Other times, the computer will randomly pick that vehicle for secondary inspection (that’s happened to me and the border agent even apologized).

They tag your car and you drive over to secondary. You get out and walk into secondary. Again, they will take your id, ask more questions. Meanwhile, agents are ‘inspecting’ your vehicle. More often than not, they let you go.

Those other times, they will do more in-depth research, using whatever means possible. Your entry into any country is at the discretion of the customs/border agents.

Type “Andrew Feldmar LSD” into Google and the very first hit should be Mr. Feldmar’s paper. The war on drugs claims another ‘victim”. Meanwhile, Customs had no problems letting in all of the 9/11 terrorists. Is America any safer because Mr. Feldmar was refused entry?

Rob from NY says:

Bush - deported to Iraq!

Well, I knew living in NY and voting for Kerry meant absolutely nothing. Kerry, and virtually every democrat before him has won NY with the stupid electoral system we have in this country- case in point 2000 election. Let’s deport Bush to Iraq with no secret service or military protection. Let him figure it out, if he’s so smart.

Nancy says:

Re: Bush - deported to Iraq!

If you don’t like our system in the US, YOU go live in Iraq. It isn’t oerfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better system than anywhere else.

You Dems are approaching the level of the Nazi Party in pre-war Germany. They didn’t like the governmental process in place so they changed it. Just because the guy you wanted to wini the White House didn’t take it, tough. Get over it or GET OUT!

King says:


I think it’s time for another cultural revolution, perhaps one that is successful unlike our hippie counter part. Look out for this system that will abuse our last medium for FREE speech, the internet. Instead of giving up this medium it should be time for us to realize that something is wrong. Why can’t you say that you’ve used a drug? I’ve been on ALL kinds of legal drugs but hey, they’re illegal now and the side-effects were much worse. Embrace who you are, and yeah why can’t normal people be seen as “upright”? Shouldn’t “upright” be our majority? Democrazy? Think about it. We don’t need more laws and control we need more freedom.

Anonymous Coward says:

Urban Myth

I’m not convinced this isn’t a myth.

1. If it were true, it would be predicated on everything posted to the internet being 100% factual.

2. Writing an academic thesis on using LSD doesn’t mean the author has any domain expertise in this area nor does it mean the author is admitting/confessing to anything the author put in writing. Think back to the drug user turned #1 Best Selling Author and Oprah Fan who turned out to be a big phoney.

So…if our border patrol/customs officers have the latitude to deny entry to an individual without cause, then doing a Google search on this guys name wasn’t necessary. On the other hand if they needed solid, concrete, indisputable evidence that this guy has violated one of our laws, then I seriously doubt doing a Google search and finding a thesis posting would be sufficient evidence to deny entry into the US.

All the makings of a good old fashioned urban myth designed to stir up controversy and get peoples shorts in a wad.

I need to see some more “facts’ on this one!

Anonymous Coward says:

Dear Robert Wilson,

You would be surprised at the amount of information that is already (by law) available to the public that is slowly being published via the internet to make it more readily available.

As attractive as the internet’s search capabilities are, it is an extremely poor (aka last resort) source to site information from…and that information should be used with a great deal of caution, treat it as highly suspect.

Knowing this, I have no problem with the information available on me being around for a billion years on the internet. It will be anyway! If the internet was never invented, the same information would STILL be publically available, it just involves a lot more leg work visiting courthouses, libraries and churches.

So I’m sticking to my guns. This is probably a myth. As far as my internet info being permanently recorded…whoop-dee-do, it is anyway.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Irritated the guard

It could be that he irritated the guard in some way, who then wanted to find an excuse for keeping the man out without getting disciplined like he would have if he had simply said “F*ck off, you arrogant little d*ck. I’m not letting you in to the USA”. Doing this meant that even if he had not found anything, he could at least have delayed the man for several hours, which would be a serious annoyance.

Las Vegas Dave says:


Why doesn’t everyone see that this is another symptom of the downward spiral into dictatorship and repression that Bush and his cronies are leading this country into? At some future time the melting point will be reached and either there will be a civil revolt here in the U.S., or other countries will rise up and take over the U.S. so that we will not further spread over the rest of the world. Look at the You Tube video of Trump talking about Bush. We are becoming hated and feared as a nation.

DSM says:

Re: 1984

“Why doesn’t everyone see that this is another symptom of the downward spiral into dictatorship and repression that Bush and his cronies are leading this country into?”

Rosie called. She wants her penis back. Fu(ktard.

“At some future time the melting point will be reached and either there will be a civil revolt here in the U.S., or other countries will rise up and take over the U.S. so that we will not further spread over the rest of the world.”

You libs (or stupid kids, or both seeing as they’re the same voter base) have brainwashed yourselves into actually believing that Bush is a dictator-for-life. He’s gone in ’08. Will you shut up then? Please?

“Look at the You Tube video of Trump talking about Bush. We are becoming hated and feared as a nation.”

It’s been like that for awhile. Nerds always hate jocks; it’s part of the dynamic.

Andy says:

Re: 1984

Holy cow – get a grip. You’re the type of person that has everything they’ve ever wanted, has seen no despair — in the U.S. or elsewhere –, primps around so haughtily in your Camry and decides that in an 8 year timeframe which includes 9/11, President Bush has doomed the nation. I know this is an incredibly stupid question to ask a person like you – but have you read much (read, ANY) history? I wonder what you think Clinton (your idol) would have done in 2001? Is Gore your man – do you think those 12 votes would have saved us? Do you think we’re lost?


Anonymous Coward says:

Why bring up Bush?

Las Vegas Dave…interesting how you attempted to turn this into a political forum. (hint: you didn’t do so well).

What’s sorely missing here are facts. We have a lot of conjecture with no significant substance. Some guy wanted in the U.S. The Border guards said NO. I’m still waiting to see proof the guards said NO because of what came up when they Googled him. Then I’d like to see where it’s written that Googling unrestricted, publically available sites can be used to deny access to someone wanting in the U.S. I find that R E A L L Y H A R D to believe.

Makes for interesting blogging though, doesn’t it.

(except when people drag politics into it…kinda knocks the wind out of the sails…then it’s not fun anymore.)

JoeSchmoe says:

Border Guards...

They have a right to refuse entry into the country to anyone, even for no reason. In fact they can pull you over, tear apart your car and have you put it back together again.
I am not exactly sure how this pertains to US Citizens, but being a Canadian myself I have the pleasure of dealing with some of these dick heads.

As for the comment about not allowing in an intelligent type person such as the victim in this case, I think the answer is obvious. Free thinkers are the enemy of the state.

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