Will DHS Border Search Logic Be Used To Allow Gov't Screening Of All Internet Traffic?

from the bad-potential-precedent dept

We've already explained how ridiculous it is for DHS to say that border patrol agents need to search laptops to prevent dangerous information from getting into the country. Obviously, if that was the intent of the individual, they'd just send the info electronically and not have to deal with any customs agents. Slashdot points us to a blog post by Steven M. Bellovin where he takes that same thought and flips it on its head, noting that, based on the DHS's statements, DHS may believe that it also has the right to scan any data entering or leaving the country. On top of that, he points out that this could potentially mean that if you encrypt that data you send over a border (say, via a VPN), you could potentially be violating laws that bans "hiding" goods that you send over the border. While the courts have not at all ruled in this way, you could pretty easily see the government making this sort of case.
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Filed Under: border searches, customs, data transfer, laptops

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  1. identicon
    zcat, 7 Aug 2008 @ 2:26pm

    Time to crack...

    For any reasonably strong encryption, the current estimate of how long it would take to crack is generally estimated as "not before the collapse of civilisation, using all of the computing power known to currently exist on the planet". If you double the default key length, you can extend that out to the heat death of the universe.

    Even allowing for Moore's law and hidden banks of NSA supercomputers, I'm pretty confident that the stuff I'm encrypting today will never be cracked within my lifetime. I'd be a lot more concerned about keyboard logging and/or waterboarding than cryptographic attacks.

    Backdoors? I use Open Source cryptography on an Open Source operating system. There could well be backdoors in the hardware. That takes us back to 'keyloggers'. I don't see this as a a particularly credible threat though, it would require a massive and well-concealed conspiracy. When you're dealing in conspiracies, "massive" and "well concealed" just don't go together.

    To the person (#11) who says encryption is ILLEGAL accross borders.. you have GOT to be SHITTING me. https? ssh? VPNs? Skype? These are all widely and routinely used across many borders. A few places (like France) still have a problem with that, but the USA and most other marginally-sane countries gave up trying to control it years ago!

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