Homeland Security Detains Stockton Mayor, Forces Him To Hand Over His Passwords

from the home-of-the-free dept

Anthony Silva, the mayor of Stockton, California, recently went to China for a mayor’s conference. On his return to San Francisco airport he was detained by Homeland Security, and then had his two laptops and his mobile phone confiscated. They refused to show him any sort of warrant (of course) and then refused to let him leave until he agreed to hand over his password:

?A few minutes later, DHS agents confiscated all my electronic devices including my personal cell phone. Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property. In addition, they were persistent about requiring my passwords for all devices,? Silva said.

Silva was not allowed to leave the airport until he gave his passwords to the agents, which the mayor?s personal attorney, Mark Reichel, claimed is illegal.

The mayor said the agents told him confiscating property from travelers at the airport was ?in fact routine and not unusual,? and promised to return the items within a few days.

To some extent what the DHS told him is true. It’s not that unusual, but it’s not that common either. But forcing him to turn over the passwords is unusual, and not standard practice. Besides, courts have been growing increasingly less impressed with Homeland Security’s willingness to ignore the Constitution at the border.

The feds, of course, refuse to say anything, saying they cannot confirm or deny anything. Silva first claimed that he’s “happy to cooperate and comply with these inspection procedures if they are in fact routine and legal,” but pretty quickly notes how ridiculous all of this is:

“I think the American people should be extremely concerned about their personal rights and privacy,” he said. “As I was being searched at the airport, there was a Latino couple to my left, and an Asian couple to my right also being aggressively searched. I briefly had to remind myself that this was not North Korea or Nazi Germany. This is the land of the Free.”

So they keep telling us.

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Comments on “Homeland Security Detains Stockton Mayor, Forces Him To Hand Over His Passwords”

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167 Comments
stanley says:

Re: Prescott Bush, was a Nazi

Prescott Bush was a Nazi and funded Hitlers rise. How else did a broke German nation get it’s funding for their military war machine. That’s George H.W. Bush Dad, and George W. Bush Grand Father. The Patriot Act was written 5 years before 911. What is the first the first thing a Nazi Bush did when he got in Office. Son Bush and his Buddy The Dick Cheney pulled off 911 on the Twin towers. 911 was a controlled demolition inside job. Both twin towers and WT7 all came down in under 10 seconds, free fall speed. Only Controlled Demolition can do that. Marvin Bush, Son Bush’s brother was in charge of security of the Twin Towers, connect the dots.

Anonymous Coward says:

Structures of belief

I briefly had to remind myself that this was not North Korea or Nazi Germany. This is the land of the Free.

Yes, and after reminding himself of the propaganda to which he has been conditioned all of his life, notice that his belief structures did indeed assert their supremacy over any contrary evidence coming from his base senses.

 

The education system works!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Not a good sign

When they start treating even city mayors like this, you know they’ve reached the point where they don’t believe they answer to anyone, and can do whatever they want.

That said, I hope this happens more often, not less. Let those in positions of power get a taste of what it’s like for those without the shield of position or money to protect them, maybe then they’ll consider doing something about the problem(though most likely that would just entail adding laws that make them exempt from searches).

Anonymous Coward says:

But you see, you got to hand over all the stuff LEAs need without making a fuss about your rights, because, you know, it’s for your own safety and to make their work easier.

Even if you feel like you have been raped after doing so.

Mmmm… I got an idea for a sticker:

“JUST RAPED. This baggage has been cleared by the DHS.”

Anonymous Coward says:

This is why you encrypt your electronic devices and back them up before you fly international. Not totally foolproof mind you, but its a start. Least that way you are prepared for these situations.

And for the inevitable follow-up of perpetual incarceration until you give up your password; read up on hidden containers within encrypted files and refresh yourself with the concept of “plausible deniability”.

Make them earn that paycheck from U.S. taxpayers and hold them accountable at all times. I’d say keep them honest, but there’s no joke here anymore

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I agree, but how many people know how to do that? They’ve made it clear to golden-ticket encryption for these kinds of situations. Just keeps getting worse it seems. Now if we had where it bricked the devices, that’s a start. Either way, they’re illegally seizing property and it needs to stop.

Good night and good luck travelers

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree, but how many people know how to do that?

Only the people who really are up to something nefarious.

That’s why this whole thing is a farce. The people they want to catch with these searches are by and large too clever to be caught by these searches. Which leaves only the innocent to be manhandled and violated for ultimately no reason.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Only the people who really are up to something nefarious.”

Wrong. Plenty of people who are doing nothing wrong know how to do this. The existence of encryption to protect my data and devices against theft or other illegal activities does not indicate guilt if a DHS agent or law enforcement officer is the one requesting access. To believe otherwise is to fall for their propaganda.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Oct 2nd, 2015 @ 9:04pm

“It makes for a faster search and your important data is out of reach”

Out of reach for whom? Law enforcement can almost certainly subpoena and gain access if they have reason to request it, but might not have the same recourse if you lose access to your account for whatever reason.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Oct 2nd, 2015 @ 9:04pm

“It’s better to keep your information on the cloud.”

Even better than that, don’t take these devices on the flight at all. Ship them separately. If you really need a cell phone during the trip, buy a cheap prepaid one (I can get them for $20 at my local department store) to take along.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And for the inevitable follow-up of perpetual incarceration until you give up your password

You cannot be incarcerated merely for declining to give your passwords to a border agent. You may never see your devices again, as they are unfortunately allowed to keep them until they can inspect them, and without the passwords, that would be never, but they can’t throw you in a cell with no due process, no charges, no nothing, just because you don’t hand them your passwords.

If this mayor had stood his ground, he would have probably been detained long enough for the cops to make a point, then released, because the moment the mayor’s lawyer and the city’s attorneys got involved, they’d have had a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

ICE and Border Patrol have a lot of leeway at the “border” but they don’t have the authority to lock people up indefinitely for no other reason than they decline to facilitate their invasion of people’s personal lives.

That One Guy (profile) says:

An honest man doesn't feel the need to remind you of that fact

I briefly had to remind myself that this was not North Korea or Nazi Germany. This is the land of the Free.”

If someone feels the need to remind you that they’re honest, what they’re really telling you is that they cannot be trusted.

If someone feels that they need to constantly remind you how awesome their customer service and/or product is, then it’s because their customer service and/or product is terrible.

And if you feel the need to remind yourself that you’re living in the ‘land of the free’, then odds are it’s because you aren’t living in the ‘land of the free’.

Anonymous Coward says:

Any elected official that voluntarily gives up access to his or her electronics in this situation should be removed from office. I am an uttter nobody but if the same was asked of me, I would be detained until the EFF took my case to the Supreme Court. And losing there, I would remain defiant and stay in jail. I will never relent to an illegal search regardless of the personal cost. The only way I would voluntarily divulge a password is under duress from toture.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Uber Sefcurity

What has the TSA and DHS done lately to improve security in the US?

They molest small children, old ladies, confiscate personal effects, and then claim they’re doing it for security purposes.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be in the TSA, but perhaps having more than a few weeks training would be a good start.

http://www.jobmonkey.com/governmentjobs/transportation-security-admin/
“TSA Job Requirements

The TSA’s official requirements for a TSO include:
U.S. citizen or U.S. national.
High school diploma (or GED), or one year of relevant work experience.
Background check to screen for past criminal record or any financial problems.
Drug-free, in good health, and able to lift heavy items weighing up to 70 pounds.
Able to stand for long periods of time.”

“The TSA provides several weeks of intensive training for its recruits, including classroom and on-the-job training, followed by certification testing.”

Of course a gorilla could do the job, provided the training and background check was adequate…

Anonymous Coward says:

Its worse

This used to be the land of the free and home of the brave. Now it is the land of the 1% and the home of cops who are afraid of cell phones. The cost of land is skyrocketing, yet we pretend that our dollar is stable. Your savings are eroding year by year even if they are growing. Your rights are no longer guaranteed. You are lucky if they even admit that you had them in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ok, wtf is going on, they wouldnt so publicly harrass such a high profile member of their society, nor would would “special” forces homeland security be involved, unless something out of the ordinarry was happening, why would they risk shinning a questionable light on their “goodness”, in a system that grants authority based on trust

maybe its something everyone SHOULD be informed about, irregardless of whose argument it benefits

Unless of course their goal was simply intentional, intentionally public in hopes that “news” will do their questionable job and report “news”, to throw out a “message”, or a conditioning, sorry education, something like what hillary did with 60 minutes……the things they do but dont tell anyone

Anyways, something feels up, i dont now what the truth is, and i dont expect to ever know

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re:

very commendable, and it would be nice if all of us could react in such a manner; but -practically speaking- who among us can afford -both monetarily and otherwise- to resist the Eye of Sauron when he fixes his gaze upon us ? ? ?

especially when the stakes are they can see our grandkids pictures, or our stupid emails of no import, etc… i understand defending those rights on principle, but i am not carrying around manning/snowden level type docs that it is directly ‘worth’ going to jail for an unknown amount of time for said principle…

AND, once you stand on principle, the judge doesn’t listen to you/your lawyer’s 100% spot-on constitutional arguments, NO ONE in the (korporate kontrolled) media gives a shit, a few marginal websites who still believe in the constitution take up your cause, and you are languishing in some super max hell hole, how nice will it be to cozy up to your principles in your isolation cell ? ? ?

AND, the feds will use all their influence to fuck up your life from alpha to omega, and that is BEFORE they railroad your conviction…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That sort of thinking is what allows democracies to turn into dictatorships.

If every man decided to stand up for their rights instead of letting it happen then it would stay a democracy instead of giving in and allowing evil to take root.

I suggest reading “They thought they were free” it’s a very interesting book into the thoughts and lives of 10 ordinary people during the change of a republic into a dictatorship that led to a massive war.

Has some parallels to current events

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

i am reminding sheeple of harsh reality: i like to think i would stand on principle if i had manning/snowden level type dox on me; but going to jail for an unknown amt of time to stand on the principle of not letting feds see my inconsequential personal info, is not going to happen for most of us…
i completely understand the principle is the same in either case, but, c’mon, get real…

Anonymous Coward says:

Now, now, let’s get some facts straight: TSA didn’t do any of this because TSA has no powers of detention or search beyond those of an administrative search to enter an airport sterile area or the boarding gate itself. (Laughing yet?) US Customs & Border Patrol (who thank TSA daily for existing and making them look professional) can detain to establish identity only (for US citizens), but (according to the 9th Circuit, who slapped them done on precisely this issue) cannot ask for passwords or view anything unless they can articulate a reason (under law) and have a warrant. At the instant the mayor was sent to secondary he could have refused to answer questions, demanded a lawyer, and asked to see the warrant before giving up anything, be it hardware or passwords.

Why do people let the state walk all over them and then act surprised when it does?!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

At the instant the mayor was sent to secondary he could have refused to answer questions, demanded a lawyer, and asked to see the warrant before giving up anything, be it hardware or passwords.

He is cut off from the outside word, because the state bullies already have control of his devices, and his luggage. That makes it difficult to resist them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Read the law.
Read the court of appeals brief that ruled in favor of the Govt.
A lot of prison yard lawyers throwing out big words who have no idea about 4th amendment search and seizure authority or border search authority.
People are confusing procedure that would would dictate a typical encounter within the U.S…reasonable suspicion, investigative detention, probable cause etc with a border search. Totally different set of rules when entering the U.S. regardless of citizenship. Been around for hundreds of years. Amazing what you can learn if you take the time to actually read the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I love this. Probably the type of person who is the first one to start pointing fingers in blame when “something” gets through our border complaining they didn’t do their job. Zero knowledge on the topic and all you can do is imply that the law is incorrect. Well I guess we’ll just have to re write 100s year old law that has kept the U.S. Commerce and people safe. All because this guy was detained when probably 99% of travelers pass without any issues.

Again, I encourage you to do your research and learn why it is is that our constitution grants Customs latitude in their border search authority. You can’t just complain the law isn’t “right”. The defendant in the previous stated case tried that and the court of appeals said he (and you) are wrong. But I guess you’re smarter than the collective opinion of the appeals judges.

You think it’s coincidence that they seized his property. It’s a huge headache for law enforcement when dealing with any entitled public figure. Believe me Customs would love not have dealt with this guy.

I’ll try that whole “just because it’s the law it isn’t right” angle the next time I get stopped for speeding. Maybe the judge will cut me a break when I tell him the speed limit was too low for my liking.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Probably the type of person who is the first one to start pointing fingers in blame when “something” gets through our border complaining they didn’t do their job.”

– wrong

” Zero knowledge on the topic”

– wrong

” imply that the law is incorrect”

– See what I mean? “It’s the law Damn It !!!”

“re write 100s year old law that has kept the U.S. Commerce and people safe”

– I fell soooo safe, and it is solely because of government treating everyone but themselves like shit.

” probably 99% of travelers pass without any issues”

– Oh, we’re guessing now? You don’t know?

“You can’t just complain the law isn’t “right””

– Apparently I still can. I wonder for how long.

“But I guess you’re smarter than the collective opinion of the appeals judges. “

– I do not recall making this claim, perhaps you could point it out.

“You think it’s coincidence that they seized his property. “

– I do not.

“It’s a huge headache for law enforcement when dealing with any entitled public figure”

– Awwwwww – poor babies.

“I’ll try that whole “just because it’s the law it isn’t right” angle the next time I get stopped for speeding. Maybe the judge will cut me a break when I tell him the speed limit was too low for my liking.”

– Good luck with that Biff.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Again just whining and stomping your feet without providing specific facts doesn’t show how customs and HSI acted improperly. If you have knowledge or expertise on the topic then please educate everyone here. And BTW one xsemester of constitutional law at the community college doesn’t count.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Again just whining and stomping your feet without providing specific facts …

If I handed the password to my corporate supplied laptop to anyone, I’d be breaking a non-disclosure agreement I signed with my client. They’d sue me into bankruptcy, and rightfully so.

If I let them have my password then let them take it from my sight, they could do any damned thing they pleased to it. This might include plugging in a previously infected USB key (cf. Stuxnet) or computer game CD (Sony).

If this is too hard for you to understand or you’re unfamiliar with what I’m suggesting, you’ve no business discussing this situation. You’re missing years of advanced training in the subject to even start.

Run along little boy.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“You can’t just complain the law isn’t “right”. The defendant in the previous stated case tried that and the court of appeals said he (and you) are wrong. But I guess you’re smarter than the collective opinion of the appeals judges.”

Of course you can. I think you’re confusing two different things: whether a law is right and whether a law is legal. Those two things are independent of each other. We have lots of laws that are wrong in the sense of being immoral or unethical while at the same time right in the sense of legally supported.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

We’re a nation of laws with a mechanism in place to change legislation if needed. I don’t want to live in a community where someone can cherry pick which laws they’re going to obey on a personal whim just because they don’t agree with it. The point is did customs conform with law as it is written today when they detained the mayor and seize his property? And the answer is yes, they acted within the law. Because people have watched a few episodes of CSI and law and order they’ think they’re now experts on 4th amendment, search and seizure, and border search authority. These are very nuanced areas of law enforcement that take a lot of training and experience to fully understand. But I’m sure the previous commenter knows all about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I do not want to live in a society where people are not allowed to voice their opinion, whether it be fear of reprisal or actual beat downs does not change this.

I have read that everyone violates several laws every day, not because they are picking which laws to obey but because there is no way to go about your daily business without violating something. In fact, many do not even realize they are in violation of of some bullshit law. And as we all know, ignorance of the law is no excuse – Blah blah blah.

You seem quite certain that you know me and why I dislike this crap, well – you are wrong again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

No one is saying idiots on this forum can’t state their opinion but when you present yourself as a subject matter expert and provide inaccurate information regarding a particular law it should be noted. Otherwise other dumbasses here will take your comments as gospel and continue to spread the misinformation. The original post in this string is innacurate as it relates to what customs can or cannot do. Period. And when pointed out people get their feelings hurt and go on about fear of not being able to voice their opinion and fascism…..really. Yea man….. Because you’ve been a victim of the system? The Mans been keeping you down? Fight the power. You’re right the U.S. Is just a god awful place to live with too many pesky fascist laws. So a place with fewer rules and laws would suit you huh? Why don’t you give Sinaloa Mexiico a try. Or how about El Salvador or Mogadishu. Obviously I don’t know you but spent the last 20 years dealing with people like you. So sure of themselves telling me what the law is and what I can and can’t do. And nine months later a judge is handing them their ass in federal court. But it is amusing I guess. And keeps me employed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Please point out where I presented myself as a subject matter expert and in addition if it is not too difficult, would you also point out where I provided inaccurate information.

I see. Others are not allowed to voice an opinion because someone else might listen and actually think about this shit rather than mindlessly accepting the standard cover story, got it.

Yeah, there is nothing that needs to be fixed here … because look over there, look how bad that is!
Yup, everything is perfect here – if you are rich.

Your self righteous indignation is laughable, keep it up as I’m sure it is providing bonus points with your puppet masters.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

“US Customs & Border Patrol (who thank TSA daily for existing and making them look professional) can detain to establish identity only (for US citizens), but (according to the 9th Circuit, who slapped them done on precisely this issue) cannot ask for passwords or view anything unless they can articulate a reason (under law) and have a warrant. At the instant the mayor was sent to secondary he could have refused to answer questions, demanded a lawyer, and asked to see the warrant before giving up anything, be it hardware or passwords”…WRONG

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Obviously I don’t know you but spent the last 20 years dealing with people like you.

I’m sorry you had to do that, assuming you did have to as opposed to choosing to do so. I hope you got some enjoyment from it.

I’ve spent more than sixty years dealing with people like you: “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Coffee’s brewing buddy. Wake up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

99% of law enforcement operate within the law and policy. The few bad apples are sensationalized by the media and social justice warriors to be the majority when it’s simply not the case. Are there some folks in law enforcement that are there for the wrong reasons and need to be removed..Absolutely. But again, the majority of LEOs are decent people who care for others and just want to do their job and get home to their families.
Certain people and the media are selective in their outrage when it comes to people dying. Black teens are shooting and killing each other in record numbers across the U.S. but this isn’t gonna make it on TV. Now a cop who is involved in a shooting in one of those neighborhoods will be playing on a loop on CNN. And he’ll be judged in the court of public opinion before people know all the facts. And of course if he is exonerated it’s a conspiracy.
The Paul Harvey clip on police on YouTube says it best.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

An insignificantly small number when viewed as a percentage means that it is not a real issue and no one should be concerned about it … until it happens to you … oh boy, then it is really big deal! – amitite?

A few bad apples that receive a slap on the wrist and good finger wagging before being allowed back on their beat after a nice little paid vacation. That is the way to deal with the 1% you claim operate outside the law. Interesting how this conflicts with your view of other criminals and how they should be held accountable for their actions.

I would be interested in seeing the stat you referred to, got a link? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

It is all the fault of the media for reporting these isolated incidences … what worn out piece of shit excuse that is. These things would not exist if it weren’t for the media – what a crock. You are delusional.

Within any group there are those who will not follow the rules, some even go out of their way to demonstrate this. In general society this is the norm, in a police unit things need to be a bit more strict for obvious reasons, but those in case of enforcing the rules upon the police force seem to be incapable or unwilling to do so. And you are saying this is not a problem. You seem to have the “blame the victim” attitude. Nice!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

Oh, so now your an expert on police depts policies and who gets paid and under what circumstances when suspended. How the hell do you know that. Because it was on True Detective.
Once again you and others here just regurgitating dramatic bullshit either seen on cable news or a movie and it’s just all gotta be true since it was on the Internet or CNN. All the while with zero first hand experience or knowledge on policing or police administration. This is the crowd that asks why didn’t he just shoot him in the ankle probably having never been in a physical confrontation let alone a shooting. And never asking why the defendant isn’t accountable for his actions. All while having the luxury of stuffing their faces with Cheetos for months while watching the courtroom channel talking about coulda shoulda woulda. Do a freedom of information act request if you’re so damn worked up over all these civil rights violations everyone alleges are happening and stop relying on wherever it is you get your information.
And oh yea. Unlike you who probably has to check Wikipedia for your bullet points I don’t need a link. I’ve done this for almost 20 years. State and federal. And contrary to what many here so badly wish we’re the case the rampant corruption and abuse of power isn’t so. Hard to hear I know. Then what would you complain about while sitting at your computer in your lonely house at 5:00 am. So badly wanting a cause and to be relavant.
It’s been fun.
Fight the power.
Easy on the Cheetos.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

I am not an expert and never claimed to be, at anything, are you?

wtf is True Detective?

So now I should not believe what I see, read and hear because you said so – got it.

You do not need to provide evidence in support of your claims? Because you have been doing this (trolling?) for years, makes complete sense – brilliant!

Delusional you are, funny – but a bit crazy.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

The few bad apples are sensationalized by the media and social justice warriors to be the majority when it’s simply not the case.

The “few bad apples” get away with their crimes with the willing silence of the 95% good apples and strident cheering from the sidelines of the PBA.

When good cops let those fuckers exist within their midst, they tarnish themselves! We’re not doing this to them. They’re doing this to themselves!

Wake the fuck up.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I’ll try that whole “just because it’s the law it isn’t right” angle
> the next time I get stopped for speeding. Maybe the judge will
> cut me a break when I tell him the speed limit was too low for
> my liking.

Yeah, Rosa Parks should have just shut up and moved to the back of the bus like she was told to, right? After all, it was the law.

And those Japanese-Americans during WWII, what a bunch of “entitled” whiners, am I right? Their internment was the law, after all, so they had no business complaining about being ripped from their homes, stripped of everything they own and put in prisons for no other reason than their ethnicity. The government was just trying to keep everyone safe, so that justifies any abridgment of so-called “rights”, yes?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

That is a point, what a terrible example that is to set for human rights…..unless that WAS the point, a coordinated example of subserviance….i.e. this is what you should do, what this guy did

I dont know this dude personally and i was’nt there, i dont know the why

so i dont know, maybe he’s good, maybe he’s bad, maybe this is what it seems, maybe its not, maybe it’s overeaching authority, and a person who felt they had no choice

Something feels up though, using such invasive authority so publicly, ….. and i dont feel like we’ll be getting the whole truth of it either

Anonymous Coward says:

“Unfortunately, they were not willing or able to produce a search warrant or any court documents suggesting they had a legal right to take my property”
Yea that’s because a warrant isn’t required by law when searching items entering the United States.
The author of this article and the Mayor need to educate themselves on search and seizure law as it pertains to searches at our borders. Completely different set of rules than traditional searches with the U.S.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yea that’s because a warrant isn’t required by law when searching
> items entering the United States.

But a warrant or probable cause that a crime has been committed is required to detain a U.S. citizen, even at the border, not just “we want your passwords”.

Absent probable cause of criminal activity, a U.S. citizen can be detained only for so long as it takes to establish identity. And no, pretending you can’t figure out who the mayor of Stockton is for 72 hours (or whatever) won’t fly.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, I should have said reasonable suspicion, not probable cause. Brain fart. Mea culpa.

But the fact remains, Customs had neither of those with regard to the Stockton mayor, so he couldn’t be legally detained, even if he refused to give up his passwords. Declining to participate or facilitate in the government’s invasion of your privacy is neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion of anything.

IonOtter says:

Actually...DHS has an *extremely* good reason - and justification - to do this...

DHS has an extremely good reason to do this?

The idiot brought his GOVERNMENT LAPTOP AND PHONE to China.

That thing is packed so full of spyware, it will be a fricking miracle if he gets it back at all. They’ll probably have to destroy it all.

Folks, China is actively engaged in genuine cyber warfare. The precise second your phone hits a Chinese-controlled cell tower, it’s scanned. If it’s a number they have in their database of important people, it’s rooted within an hour. Your laptop? NEVER bring your laptop to China. Buy yourself a Chromebook, use it while you’re there, and the moment you leave, toss it in the trash.

All of the maids and staff in every hotel are full-fledged security experts who carry a full suite of attack tools, scanners, hard drive duplicators and more. If you allow your laptop to leave your sight for more than sixty seconds, you should consider it rooted.

The mayor was a blithering idiot.

Ruben says:

Re: Actually...DHS has an *extremely* good reason - and justification - to do this...

What are your OpSec credentials?

Because you seriously sound like a blithering idiot.

All of the maids and staff in every hotel are full-fledged security experts who carry a full suite of attack tools, scanners, hard drive duplicators and more. If you allow your laptop to leave your sight for more than sixty seconds, you should consider it rooted.

So much stupid in this.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Actually...DHS has an *extremely* good reason - and justification - to do this...

All of the maids and staff in every hotel are full-fledged security experts …

This sounds extremely made up.

You should read the recent write-up on Krebs on Security of his recent “vacation” in Mexico. You don’t want to use ATMs in vacation hotspots in that country.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Actually...DHS has an *extremely* good reason - and justification - to do this...

I’m thinking I just don’t want to go to that country at all. Having to do research on which parts of the country are free of drug cartel violence would make me consider other options. Add police corruption and now ATM fraud and I’m thinking there are too many other places to go.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Actually...DHS has an *extremely* good reason - and justification - to do this...

I’m thinking I just don’t want to go to that country at all.

It’s all relative. Looking at your reply in email, I thought you were writing about the USA, not Mexico. I swore a decade ago in self-defense I’d never again set foot in the USA. No friggin’ way! I loved Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon. Now they’re toxic militarized police-state wastelands to me.

I wouldn’t go to Mexico because of the Zetas. I wouldn’t go to the USA because of TSA, CBP and DHS. Why bother when there’s Costa Rica and Argentina, or Peru, or even Equador, …?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Wut?

I can understand a non-technically oriented mayor not seeing the potential repercussions, so here it is laid out for the non-technical. Given your passwords, chain of evidence disappears. Once in possession of your passwords, anything they say they found there, they found there. Prove them wrong. You can’t. They can plant anything they want to be found, and you can’t prove it wasn’t there when in your possession.

Once you give it up at all, anyone could do anything. This sounds extraordinarily stupid. Don’t do it!

USSR ca. 1960: “Papers!”
US Customs and Border Control 2015: “Just let us bone you, fool. Drop your pants already, damnit!”

Socrates says:

Re: Re: Evidence

Just like this mayor, most people seams unwilling to envision that. By refusing to give the passwords the risk of them planting fake evidence or infecting equipment with root-kits is reduced. Thus, one of the DHS/CBP attack vectors is mitigated.

Sadly they can still plant drugs though. And they might put you on one of their “lists”. It have become bad enough that even crossing the Canadian border often involves harassment, detaining people and refusing them food and water, and in some cases access to their own medicine, just to fuck people up.

The land of the “free”

Mark Wing (user link) says:

Create a small TrueCrypt drive, upload it to DropBox and now you have real encryption in the cloud without much effort. Your data is safe in the cloud as long as you are using your own crypto and not theirs.

Agreed the cloud isn’t any safer without taking your own security measures, but it should be noted that it’s harder to get a cloud provider to cough up your data than it is to get you to cough up your data when you’re sitting in a little room with no rights–it’s just another day on the farm for OneDrive, and they wouldn’t do anything without something in writing telling them to.

But “the cloud” is just a marketing term anyway. 20 years ago you could still upload your files to an FTP server, and it was even built into Windows that you could map a drive to it. You still can run your own file servers and rent them cheaply nowadays. Spend the 20 minutes and build your own DropBox.

So, it’s OK to trust someone with the possession of your data as long as it’s encrypted and backed up somewhere else. A cloud provider could still delete it.

Mark Wing (user link) says:

You can safely stand on principle by shipping your electronics ahead of you and just going through customs with your ID and your car keys or enough money for a cab to wherever your electronics are.

Is the DHS liable if racy pictures of your girlfriend or a PDF where your client admits he did the murder making into the wild? What do you think the level of accountability is for the data on your devices if they are out of your hands for a few days? Are you willing to risk having your sensitive data make it into the wild?

Seems like if anything sensitive on your devices was released into the wild, you would have no recourse, and could even be liable yourself. No thanks.

This is scary new territory for everyone involved, so my advice would be to travel either empty-handed, or with devices factory reset, just on principle.

I don’t know what power we have to resist the giant, flaming eye of Sauron watching us, but we can at least thumb our noses at it once in a while.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why would a person in their right mind have such files on their laptop whilst traveling on business?

Are you absolutely sure your software is robust, correctly configured, and up to date? Are you absolutely sure none of it’s vulnerable to a zero-day exploit? Are you even knowledgeably trained enough to know?

Most people are not trained in CS and IT, and even those who are can be vulnerable to zero-day exploits, depending on their vendors to protect them. We read stories all the time about anonymous cracking military and LEO sites, and Chinese and Korean crackers getting into what they shouldn’t. Ie. Sony (a deep-pocketed, “vicious multinational” which should be able to afford great security), multiple times over years.

Are you sure that machine you’re typing on now is pristine clean? When was the last time you audited the tens (hundreds?) of things your web browser is reporting back to?

TRX (profile) says:

If he was using the laptops and his phone for job-related tasks, that information belongs to the City of Stockton; that is, it’s government information.

The mayor’s response should have been to call his City Attorney, who should have showed up with the Chief of Police and the SWAT team.

If they’ll do it to a mayor, they’ll do it to a governor. Or a senator or congressman.

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