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I Had My Electronics Seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (vc.gg)
951 points by stryk on Jan 22, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 593 comments



As an American citizen who travelled extensively up until TSA made me too miserable to continue, I am absolutely embarrassed about the travel situation in the United States.

I grew up in the land of freedom, and grew up hating overzealous and pointless "security" associated with the iron curtain.

We have freedom of speech, which inherently means freedom of thought. At one point we were the bastion of freedom and hope, and a leader in this regard. Nobody should fear harassment because they happened to speak at DEFCON anymore than one should fear harassment because they spoke at Jesus camp, or the science fair for that matter.

We SHOULD be encouraging people to come here and talk about things that might get them in trouble in their home countries. We SHOULD take a position of leadership and protect the basic inalienable rights of all people regardless of their citizenship, alliances, or thoughts.

I am absolutely appalled at the state that our government has arrived at. I am stunned that after such a strong revocation of the previous leadership that Obama's generation sought to increase security theater, decrease freedom, and decrease the rights afforded to our own citizens and our visitors.

The enemy of our freedom isn't thousands of miles away in some terrorist training camp. It's the people we freely elect who have seemingly no forethought and no historical understanding of our fundamental values.

A leader isn't someone who looks to cover his ass at every opportunity. A leader is someone who stands up, tells people there is something wrong, and pushes us back to the values that we were raised to be proud of. You don't have to be president to be a leader. Every police officer, every border agent, every engineer, janitor, and unemployed citizen can stand up at some point and see enough is enough. People need to stop arguing about politics and stop worrying about the boogey man. People need to start caring about freedom and they need to stop the culture of fear.

Sorry... This whole discussion hit a sore spot for me. I have always been a proud american and this kind of behavior just flies in the face of the values I was raised to embrace.


I'm an American expat who tries to return to the US as little as possible, primarily because of the shit I've been put through. As a US citizen, I shouldn't be submitted to invasive search after invasive search just because I had to buy a last minute ticket back to the US because a close relative either died or was close to death (seriously, my mother died less than an hour after I got there).

The way I see it, if the shit I have to go through is that bad, the stuff they put non-Americans through is probably 10 times worse, and I'm embarrassed and pissed off that "my" country treats people that way. In no way do our boarder guards represent my beliefs, values, or integrity.


I'm in my 40s (UK) and have traveled a fair bit, including the US before 9/11. After that and then the TSA, I will never set foot in the US again. Which is a shame, as I really enjoyed the country and people, and was seriously considering moving there back then.


The constant affirmation of being "free", the need to "protect our freedom" and "the greatest country in the world", simply stops people questioning anything about the relative state of society and freedom.

Instead of being 1st in the world, the USA ranks 23rd in the world for freedom [1], and 11th for economic freedom [2].

It's only likely to get worse.

Even sadder is that there are countries where people have a average life expectancy up to 5% longer than the USA.

[1] https://www.cato.org/human-freedom-index [2] http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking


USA is only 41th in the rankings of press freedom[0]. That's worse than some African countries.

0. https://rsf.org/en/ranking#


I don't disagree with US not having freedom, but I don't think the nordic countries should be up there either.

For example, you can't publish news in Sweden/Finland/Germany that can be interpreted as anti-feminist or has an anti-refugees sentiment.

This soft pressure is hard to quantify because as a journalist you would lose your job and be accused of various things if you attempted to publish something like that.


Where did you get such information? I don't know about anti-feministm, but I've seen plenty of anti-refugees articles both in Swedish and German. Moreover, Pegida (openly anti-refugees and anti-islamisation) is an officially registered association in Germany.

0. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegida


Didn't know this. Thanks.


Sorry thats pure non sense, you can publish whatever you want in germany (and i guess the other countries too...) as long as it isn´t hatespeech etc.

There are books for sale like the ones from Thilo: Sarrazin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thilo_Sarrazin

Which are full of anti immigration speech and whatever...


What is hatespeach? That in itself chills a lot of possible stories. Anything anti-feminist, is hate speech - it might or not be true.


Interesting. Thanks. Wasn't aware


> that can be interpreted as anti-feminist or has an anti-refugees sentiment

This is a lie.


Curious. Where did you even get that from?


How would expect to control a population if not by ideology and propaganda ? Keep them as dumb and uninformed as you can, keep them busy working or else they may ask questions and initiate change that would jeopardize the caste in power.

Most people actually believe they live in democracies while there are no democracies on the planet right now though a couple countries are not so far from it.


"Swiss are the most armed and most free nation" - Niccolo Machiavelli

100% freedom is a pipe dream, but they are as close as mankind can get these days and sustain it (for 800 years). Looking as an expat on their system, I am not sure about 1 thing I would like them to change, honestly.

US reality is megaparsecs behind in most regards.


And in that 'ranking' they put 'Hong Kong' as the #1 'most free' place in the world.

Yes, the same Hong Kong that is not a democracy, wherein the CCP can and will come and get you anytime they please, wherein if you speak out against the government, you can go to jail, wherein every action of every citizen is monitored by the CPP.

I find this to be somewhat problematic.

Apparently they forgot to include 'political freedom' - which is a rather odd thing to overlook :)

They also place nations such as UAE far ahead of the US in terms of 'economic freedom' - this, a 'nation' wherein the various 'mini monarchs' have absolute authority, can pluck your finances, do as they please with you - for whatever reason they want, at any time, and are completely above the law. Of course total censorship of information, and absolute power by the police to intervene in your personal affairs have something to do with 'economic freedom'.

The Cato institute does some good (but opinionated work), but find this is irresponsible.



The thing with Hong Kong is a bit more complicated. Although there has been kidnappings of booksellers who were selling critical books and magazines about the CCP leaderchip, in general you can say whatever you want. You can demonstrate for an independent Hong Kong and won't land in jail. Also a bunch of other stuff can be considered more 'free'. Prostitution is legal etc. In the end HK is not really China.

Anyway, I am sure the internet access here in HK is also monitored, but my guess its about the same as the US (so everything).


You dont see the ironie do you?


ok seems everyone is posting their USA TSA/immigration horror stories - here are my 2 - luckily didnt happen to me.

1. A female friend of mine was living in NYC. She had patents for some tech that she invented and was living in the US while trying to sell the patents or potentially build a business with them. Went to Toronto to see a friend, on return the immigration agent asked her what she did in the US - she explained she worked in tech and the immigration official said she didnt look like an IT person and cancelled her visa. She tried to get him to look up her patents but he refused. She had to leave the country and go reapply for her visa or sort it out back in Australia.

2. Margaret Jackson - former chairman of QANTAS was searched by TSA and they found airplane schematics, when asked why she had the schematics she said she was the chairman of QANTAS, the TSA responded, but you're a woman! http://www.informationliberation.com/index.php/www.deloitte....


These both read like sexism?


Which isn't surprising.

With most law enforcement, you are purged by your looks before you ever get to say a thing.

My own things against me: I'm female. I'm assumed to be smuggling drugs, partially because I travel light and partially because I have blue hair.


When I had long hairs and was in my 20s, I used to systematically have my baggage searched whenever I came to Asia (especially in Japan). Now that I'm in my thirties with short hairs and clean cut, I'm never searched...

It seems stupid, I mean potential drug smugglers must know about this and adapt their looks. In the end, it's really just security theater.

I would prefer to have long hairs again and just be able to dress whatever way I want but as someone who travels a lot, I ended up having to conform...


And I agree, it does seem very stupid. I'd much rather actual security with plausible numbers than the theater, but they didn't ask me.

"I ended up having to conform..." I do understand. I conformed a lot in my 20's, mostly for job reasons. Found a job where it didn't matter - at a pharmacy, no less - and then wound up moving to Norway. Along the way, I decided I'd rather just be myself with the hairs and all, even if that means I get searched. I occasionally miss being able to blend into a crowd, but that's part of the payout for this, I guess.


If you travel a lot and let it grow it would be interesting to find out what length the problems start at.


PSA: Ads on that link are NSFW.


sorry as its an old story I had difficulties finding a site that still had it


These stories have been happening since the Bush administration.

Why didn't Obama do anything about it?

You think Trump is going to do something about it?

Maybe it was none of their responsibilities. sarcasm

Edit: added a sarcasm note


> Maybe it was none of their responsibilities.

Pretty sure border security does fall under the executive branch.

Obama, for all his good social policies, had a much harder stance on foreign policy than I think was needed. I don't believe the failing TSA is the reason we don't have many transit-related terrorist attacks in the USA.

Not to mention, a large majority of the US population is xenophobic and/or racist. Giving the appearance of relaxing border security (even though it's been shown to be completely ineffective as-is), would be a poor political move.

Considering one of Trump's campaign promises was to build a wall between the US and Mexico - I doubt he's going to make things better.


> Obama, for all his good social policies,

What were even his good social policies. I tried to remember a few and couldn't. ACA for healthcare perhaps? Can't think of others.

Specifically the Black community voted for him and looking back I can't see if their lives improved a lot during his tenure.

> Considering one of Trump's campaign promises was to build a wall between the US and Mexico - I doubt he's going to make things better.

Yap doesn't seem hopeful. I think with Obama many thought he might be pro-privacy. I did somehow. I was wrong. Trump isn't and I don't know if we'll ever see someone campaigning and winning with that as a major part of their platform.


Obama had very few good social policies. One could argue he slightly stepped back the enforcement of drug laws when it comes to the states beginning to legalize. He did a horrible job when it comes to drug legalization, openly refusing to go to bat for it at the Federal level. The ACA was a disaster (of course it was, it was a zillion pages long, written by lobbyists, and few people read it before it was voted on), except for a few features such as coverage for pre-existing conditions. He didn't make almost any real progress on US problems with mass incarceration either, although he talked about it a few times. He was against gay marriage initially, then flipped when it was politically convenient; the Supreme Court was responsible for enacting that equality at the federal level however. He was also a massive civil liberties violator, when it came to privacy and was openly unapologetic about it (he was clearly an anti-privacy hawk in all regards). In short, yeah, he didn't do much of anything socially.



Yes, worth reminding people that the President's job is only to enforce and enact law. Whereas Congress is the only body allowed to create law, i.e. bills. And the Judiciary interprets the law.

Obama could only enact laws that congress passed, and they pretty much only did that his first two years until Congress became a logjam and stopped doing anything. So Obama was left with the only tools he had, which were to enforce those laws he wanted to, and not the one he did not. And he did a lot of that, as pointed out.


The executive branch has the power to unilaterally change the scheduling of prohibited drugs. Obama could have moved marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2 (or even 3) drug if he really wanted to. That would have made a huge difference.


Republicans would have crucified him by yelling the black guy wants to give weed to your kids.


He may of been against marriage equality initially, but did command his justice department to not defend the defense of marriage act. Don't ask don't tell was repealed on his watch. He also allowed undocumented people who were brought to the USA as children (dreamers) to stay. His administration also ruled that title 9 applied to transgendered people.

Edit: His Justice Department also sued states over voter suppression and investigated racist police departments.


>The ACA was a disaster (of course it was, it was a zillion pages long, written by lobbyists, and few people read it before it was voted on), except for a few features such as coverage for pre-existing conditions.

I understand some broad facets of the law and I don't believe it was a disaster, and furthermore I suspect you don't understand it either - by what basis are you calling it a 'disaster'?


> Not to mention, a large majority of the US population is xenophobic and/or racist.

Prove it. I'm well-travelled (within and outside the US) and I disagree entirely. Stop spewing libel about the American pubic.


You don't need to travel far to encounter racism in the U.S. Hell, I live in Silicon Valley and I see racism every day. My black friends get pulled over all the time for "driving while black." I've seen people of color get discriminated against in the workplace. My Facebook friends post some seriously gnarly memes sometimes, so bad that sometimes I even wonder if they even realize they are being racist.

But anecdotes are not proof. Here's hard data on racism in the U.S.:

- Stop and Frisk laws disproportionately target people of color, not to mention it's unconstitutional ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonoberholtzer/2012/07/17/stop... )

- Punishment for crack-cocaine (mainly black users) was 10x worse than powder cocaine (mainly rich, white users), even though it's the same drug.

- North Carolina basically admitted to creating laws to stop black voters from voting ( http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/north-ca... )

I can go on and on. No matter how "well-traveled" you think you are, perhaps you weren't hanging out with the people who are being oppressed. They are speaking out pretty much constantly now, if you choose to listen.


I used to be in the "But I'm not racist and most of my friends aren't, so most people shouldn't be racist, right?" camp.

Now I'm in the "Oh shit, a very large number of people here are racist, including pretty much everyone in my own family." All it took was paying attention over the years.

We've got a long way to go.


>Now I'm in the "Oh shit, a very large number of people here are racist, including pretty much everyone in my own family." All it took was paying attention over the years.

Which is why I don't use Facebook and don't have many friends. Most Americans are huge racists and bigots.


The only way I have found to not be racist is to consciously choose to NOT be racist.

I put myself in social situations as much as possible with people of other races and deal with the vague uncomfortableness.

I probably still am racist - but at least I am pushing myself.


> The only way I have found to not be racist is to consciously choose to NOT be racist.

I'm glad that you found a strategy that worked for you, but that doesn't mean that other people are racist.


It's actually pretty difficult not to be racist. I'm racist, for example, as are pretty much all other white people in the US. I try hard not to be, but I think it would help white peoples' understanding to assume that you are racist and realize that it's sort of a nasty default state of being born white in a white supremacist society that needs to be actively fought against to be eliminated.

No white person is wholly racist or wholly not racist, it's all shades of gray, the most important part is that we understand why it's important to combat racism and do so actively in ourselves and when it happens in public. The only solution to racism is active anti-racism and the destruction of "white" as a category afforded special privileges by our culture and institutions.


> It's actually pretty difficult not to be racist. I'm racist, for example, as are pretty much all other white people in the US...No white person is wholly racist or wholly not racist, it's all shades of gray...

It's incredibly easy to not be racist if you're not racist. I've spent zero effort to continue not being racist this year (same as last year).

I'd say that it's weird that you're singling out white people in the US (which is also amusing, because opposed to what other country?) as racist, but you've already self-reported as a racist. It appears that you're working on this and I wish you the best of luck.

Also, anyone can be racist, not just white people.


>It's incredibly easy to not be racist if you're not racist. I've spent zero effort to continue not being racist this year (same as last year).

This is just one of those things where if you think you have it licked, you probably don't. It's less about understanding how to reach the end goal than it is understanding the process we need to get there. I realize you probably think you're not racist, but there is a high probability you have at the very least some implicit bias against non-white people if you are white and were brought up in a largely white community.

I'd like to think I'm not racist, but unfortunately going around to people yelling "but I'm not racist" doesn't really do a lot to solve the very real and persisting problem of racism even if it were entirely true in the first place. Curiously the racists I know are also the most likely to loudly and frequently proclaim that they aren't racist, often just before they say something racist. Even if you are a perfect angel yourself I think in most if not all moral frameworks you still have a shared responsibility of fighting against racism if you are white.

>I'd say that it's weird that you're singling out white people in the US (which is also amusing, because opposed to what other country?) as racist, but you've already self-reported as a racist.

I'm not sure what your point is here, I think Americans are a lot less racist than most people in Europe but we still have a lot of work to do.

>Also, anyone can be racist, not just white people.

Yes, that is very true. I apologize for forgetting about internalized oppression. Internalized racism is an extremely difficult problem and speaks to how deeply white supremacy pervades much of Western culture and governance. Again, the solution is recognizing that it exists and taking steps to change that while doing what we can to protect the people it affects.


> This is just one of those things where if you think you have it licked, you probably don't...there is a high probability you have at the very least some implicit bias..

No, sorry, I reject your ideology and manipulations. Repeating it in a different way, slightly more generally isn't any more convincing.

> Even if you are a perfect angel yourself I think in most if not all moral frameworks you still have a shared responsibility of fighting against racism if you are white.

I don't want to join your club and I do not want to give you legal privilege or power. If you want to improve the quality of life for people, go tutor kids or donate your time or something.

> I'm not sure what your point is here, I think Americans are a lot less racist than most people in Europe but we still have a lot of work to do.

Then why frame it that way? If you go looking for racism everywhere, you're going to find it. It's like a Baader-Meinhof phenomenon for people that really need to be twitter-followed for not having crappy/silly judgments about physical characteristics of people.

> Yes, that is very true. I apologize for forgetting about internalized oppression. Internalized racism is an extremely difficult problem and speaks to how deeply white supremacy pervades much of Western culture and governance.

Wait, what? Non-white people can be racist against white people. Are you trying to troll?


>No, sorry, I reject your ideology and manipulations. Repeating it in a different way, slightly more generally isn't any more convincing.

There's a lot of data on implicit bias, but you're right, it's still not 100% of white people, even if it is a vast majority.

>I don't want to join your club and I do not want to give you legal privilege or power. If you want to improve the quality of life for people, go tutor kids or donate your time or something.

How about all of the above? All of these things are important. I teach kids robotics and programming, I donate my time to arts programs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and I also engage in anti-racist action and combat racism and misogyny in my daily life when I'm able to. I'm not really asking for legal privilege or power from you, not sure where that came from.

>If you go looking for racism everywhere, you're going to find it. It's like a Baader-Meinhof phenomenon for people that really need to be twitter-followed for not having crappy/silly judgments about physical characteristics of people.

Or it could be because there's just racism everywhere? I don't see how the frequency illusion is relevant, once you understand what racism is and the forms it takes you start seeing it more and more. The same is true for learning about basically anything. Think about how you used software and got frustrated with software before you knew how to write software, for example. There was a moment in particular when my perception flipped from "how hard could this problem possibly be" to "I'm amazed that this even works as well as it does."

Again, I don't give two shits if you follow me on Twitter, I actually don't even use Twitter except for reading others' feeds. I myself am going to fuck off after this post because this seems like a lost cause, and I really need to learn to stop engaging with people like you.

>Wait, what? Non-white people can be racist against white people. Are you trying to troll?

I'll admit that was a little cruel. However I think it bears repeating that while non-white people can be racist against white people, I only ever see this being used as a reason for why I shouldn't be confronting anti-black racism and racism against people of color more generally. The most prominent forms of racism against "white" people from people of color that I can think of is something like the Nation of Islam's vicious anti-semitism, which rest assured I oppose completely.

More broadly while racism against white people is theoretically possible, structural and institutional racism against white people are basically nonexistent, at least in the US. (and a lot of the West, I avoid absolutes where I'm not sure of things)

This conversation and many that I've had before are depressing, because for me at least they constitute a denial of solid sociology and anthropology on the level of conservative climate denial. Likewise as the question should not be whether global warming is actually occurring but what to do about it, I think the question with white supremacy should not be whether or not exists but what we should do about it. Like global warming, it's well-documented and blatant enough that I'm flabbergasted when people ask me to prove it.

I realize at this point that I'm definitely not reaching you and that you probably don't want to be reached. I'm sorry I tried, it seems like it was a waste of time.


I'm going to be very direct with you as I believe it's been a long time since anyone has treated you like an adult.

> I donate my time to arts programs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and I also engage in anti-racist action and combat racism and misogyny in my daily life when I'm able to. I'm not really asking for legal privilege or power from you, not sure where that came from...Or it could be because there's just racism everywhere?

You're playing identity politics and inventing racism and misogyny in order to have something to "combat." If you're just looking to be offended for the sake of community, you're free to do so, but don't confuse this with social progress.

> racism against white people is theoretically possible...This conversation and many that I've had before are depressing, because for me at least they constitute a denial of solid sociology and anthropology on the level of conservative climate denial...I think the question with white supremacy should not be whether or not exists...Like global warming, it's well-documented and blatant enough that I'm flabbergasted when people ask me to prove it.

You're trying to weasel out of this conversation by blowing out the scope to confuse yourself and others into thinking you had a cogent point or substantial argument. Anyone that lets you re-frame an argument so that you can feel like you've won is doing you a massive disservice by patronizing you.

It's obvious that it's more important for you to feel like you've had a moral victory than it is for you to understand what you're talking about.

> I really need to learn to stop engaging with people like you...I realize at this point that I'm definitely not reaching you and that you probably don't want to be reached. I'm sorry I tried, it seems like it was a waste of time.

If you want to apologize, do so to yourself for getting wrapped up in such nonsense and for allowing yourself to be manipulated out of critical thinking.


I think the core thing that both sides of an argument like this need to agree upon before engaging, is defining the word racism. As an observer, it's clear that you both have different understandings of what you're discussing. The traditional view of the word is different to how progressives typically mean it.

That's with no judgment intended on either argument :).


>The traditional view of the word is different to how progressives typically mean it.

Racism is discriminating others based on their RACE


100% correct. Beware that the social justice movement wants to add "from a position of power" to that definition, so that only white people can be racist. It excuses the poor choices, actions, and ideas of non-white people and ascribes their situation to their non-whiteness.


>You're trying to weasel out of this conversation by blowing out the scope to confuse yourself and others into thinking you had a cogent point or substantial argument. Anyone that lets you re-frame an argument so that you can feel like you've won is doing you a massive disservice by patronizing you.

I actually feel like I've lost at this point, especially because now I've come back after I said I wouldn't. If you came into this expecting there to be a winner, my apologies. I also don't think you actually mean cogent as it is rigorously defined, because if you do, neither of us has a cogent argument. (that is, a well-formed inductive argument) I'm also not trying to weasel out (whatever that means) by acting like I had an argument. I was only trying to say that I'm really not the first person to make this argument and that it's extremely well-trodden ground in the social sciences, and that the social sciences are too often unfairly dismissed by technologists like you and myself. I used to do it a lot too, then I decided to minor in philosophy ;).

>If you want to apologize, do so to yourself for getting wrapped up in such nonsense and for allowing yourself to be manipulated out of critical thinking.

You mean my whole fallacy is wrong?

Just to clarify my argument here and make sure we actually disagree on the fundamentals before we go any further:

Hypothesis: People of color are oppressed in American society in ways that white people aren't.

For the purposes of the following, "fighting oppression" is defined as taking those actions which eliminate structures and attitudes that perpetuate racial oppression, such as supporting affirmative action, properly investigating and if necessary indicting cops that kill people, directly protecting people of color from violence and discrimination, teaching black history in public schools, etc.

Deontological proposition: Not fighting the oppression of people of color violates the categorical imperative. ("act as if your actions were to become universal law")

Utilitarian proposition: We are obligated to fight the oppression of people of color because the human cost of this oppression in bodies is high and consistent and it will decrease if we fight oppression.

My intuition is that you disagree more with the initial hypothesis than my belief that if the hypothesis is correct that action is justified in either of the two dominant moral frameworks, though I could be wrong (in which case it's kind of silly we're still arguing at this juncture). In the interest of focus, would you mind articulating what specifically you disagree with in my specific hypothesis? You'll probably say I'm trying to shift the burden of proof here, and I'll admit that it can have that effect but moreover I've lost track of the actual disagreement between us in all this.


My best guess is that mjolk perceives that your hypothesis is the following:

* Americans (as individuals) are racist,

whereas your hypothesis is:

* America (as a society) is racist.

The latter acknowledges that a society can be racist because of past actions even if all present members are non-racist, whereas the former assumes every member to be guilty of racism unless proven innocent. That's a very strong (and in my opinion, inaccurate and unfounded) accusation towards individual Americans, and it shifts the burden of proof in a way that is unjust towards the accused.

In short, the challenge is to diagnose and fight systemic racism without unjustly blaming individuals caught up in that system, even if said individuals appear to be the beneficiaries. The same is true for the fight against sexism.

As for the "all people can be racist" issue, remember that because systemic racism against white people is minuscule, the personal majority of racism that white people do experience is personal racism, an in this area minorities are just as bad as white people, if not more so. As an Asian-American I have encountered some personal racism, the vast majority of that from blacks and latinos while in middle and high school.


This ambiguity with the usage of the word 'racist' is part of a common motte-and-bailey gambit used by progressives when discussing race and discrimination. After starting with accusations of racism (meaning that the individual will discriminate against others according to their race), they retreat behind their redefinition of the word, claiming they just meant that systemic bias does exist. When this claim (which is hard to refute) is accepted, they take the acceptance as an admission of individual discriminatory behaviour.

You can see this in action above where jolux starts out using the first definition ("there is a high probability you have at the very least some implicit bias against non-white people") then switches back and forth.


Yah, I don't actually think mjolk or you are willfully discriminatory, and I think you misunderstand. Because implicit bias is subconscious, it requires conscious effort to recognize and and correct it. I'm not saying and will not try to argue that people say and do things that they know to be racist because they want to be racist, because nobody does want to be racist. However if it is so probable that you have implicit bias against non-white people I would ask why is it a bad thing to try and change that?

Also it doesn't really matter to the person being discriminated against whether it's a question of individual will or implicit bias, and we are still responsible for both. I will even argue that there's a high probability most white people have a lot of explicit bias as well, the reason I didn't mention that is because you can't test it empirically in the same way as implicit bias.


> However if it is so probable that you have implicit bias against non-white people I would ask why is it a bad thing to try and change that?

It's because most people by default adhere to a toxic combination of virtue ethics and retributive justice. Under that system, if you do bad things, the obligation isn't on you to improve yourself and your actions, but on others to make you suffer because you are a "bad person". People don't want to suffer, so they reject the initial premise.

Virtue ethics has its positives, but retributive justice needs to die in a fire.


> whereas your hypothesis is:

> * America (as a society) is racist.

If that is what jolux meant I have misread too.

To me it reads like jolux is speaking about us as individual racists, which more or less obviously is easily interpreted as an attempted insult.


jolux, just wanted to say I appreciate where you're coming from.


It might be that what is being stated as racist, is better described as racial bias. Bias' are generally subconscious, whereas usually the term racist is reserved for outward, and aggressive bigotry.

Understanding ones own bias' is important in understanding how to help correct the problems.


> I'm racist, for example

Really?

> as are pretty much all other white people in the US

Oh, I see now.

> it's sort of a nasty default state of being born white in a white supremacist society

Yes, so people with white skin all think/feel a certain way, mhmm?


>Yes, so people with white skin all think/feel a certain way, mhmm?

No, it's not like everyone consciously chooses to be racist, it's just that you sort of learn it subconsciously if you're not really careful. It's sort of like if the first programming language you learn is PHP then your use of other languages will be colored by it unless you make a conscious effort to unlearn.


> I'm racist, for example, as are pretty much all other people in the US

FTFY.

I think that a part of human nature make us distrust those who are different, whatever the difference is.


Those are policies and law, not people. Silicon Valley is not representative of the U.S. quite the contrary, specially since driving while black might be linked to heavy use of predictive policing[1] in California (yes the minority report thing), Facebook is definitely not what I would consider representative of people, actually the contrary again.

I have to say that I had the prejudice that the U.S. people were racists and traveling around the place proved me otherwise.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predictive_policing


Those are policies enacted by politicians, and those politicians are popularly elected by the people in elections.

The people of the US absolutely are racist xenophobes; they've proven it by their voting patterns over and over, especially with the latest election. They're just good at hiding it from you when you talk to them in person. The real racism comes out in the voting booth.


Of course they are people!

The cops in the first 2 examples, the judge / DA / prosecutor / jury in the 3rd example, and the legislators ho wrote the law in the 4th example.


> - Stop and Frisk laws disproportionately target people of color, not to mention it's unconstitutional ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonoberholtzer/2012/07/17/stop.... )

Or "stop and frisk" took place in areas with higher crime rates, where, coincidentally, non-white people live in higher density. Weird how you didn't want to address the disproportionate rates of crime by race, which I think is closer to the root of the problem, no matter how uncomfortable it is to talk about.

> - Punishment for crack-cocaine (mainly black users) was 10x worse than powder cocaine (mainly rich, white users), even though it's the same drug.

This statement gets paraded around a lot. The idea is strict penalties to discourage use, which is why crack-cocaine sentencing converges with that of methamphetamine (predominantly "white" drug). Whereas crack-cocaine decimated predominantly minority-inhabited areas of major US cities, would you have preferred for the response to be weaker?

> - North Carolina basically admitted to creating laws to stop black voters from voting ( http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/north-ca.... )

Per article: "...a requirement that voters show photo identification to vote and restored same-day voter registration, a week of early voting, pre-registration for teenagers, and out-of-precinct voting."

There's nothing intrinsic in someone's skin color or ethnic background that would cause someone to not have a valid ID -- and under a democratic leadership, the ruling party will do everything in its power to make sure the votes continue going in their favor. It's not racist or xenophobic to want a voter of a district to prove he or she is from that district.

I don't know much about North Carolina and maybe they're terrible racists, but I still plainly reject that America is by-majority racist or xenophobic.

> Hell, I live in Silicon Valley and I see racism every day...I can go on and on. No matter how "well-traveled" you think you are, perhaps you weren't hanging out with the people who are being oppressed. They are speaking out pretty much constantly now, if you choose to listen.

We're just trading anecdotes, so my statement of experience that I haven't seen it disproportionately affect non-white people is on even footing with your assertion of seeing it "every day". Maybe I'm being sensitive, but it seems like you're trying to suggest that I don't "listen" or that I have major misconceptions about my world experiences, which is a weirdly casual thing and vaguely insulting.

> My Facebook friends post some seriously gnarly memes sometimes, so bad that sometimes I even wonder if they even realize they are being racist.

It's possible that you see racism every day because you associate with racists. I don't socialize with people that have exposed themselves as racists (because I find them ridiculous and small), which might explain the differences in our perceptions.


> crack-cocaine sentencing converges with that of methamphetamine [...] would you have preferred for the response to be weaker?

For users? YES! (in both cases)

> There's nothing intrinsic in someone's skin color or ethnic background that would cause someone to not have a valid ID

Just like there's nothing intrinsic in skin color or ethnic background for higher crime rates. Yet due to economic/social factors, the rates vary in both cases. Generally the lower household income, the higher percentage of no-ID. Which maps onto races as expected.

http://www.projectvote.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/AMERIC...


> For users? YES! (in both cases)

I think that treatment should be a larger part of the response to crack or meth, but my point was that specifically targeting a substance for harsher policing is not strictly a single-race issue.

> Just like there's nothing intrinsic in skin color or ethnic background for higher crime rates. Yet due to economic/social factors, the rates vary in both cases. Generally the lower household income, the higher percentage of no-ID. Which maps onto races as expected.

Agreed, entirely, but I'm suggesting that the proof-of-eligibility was about voter count, but opposition knew the message would travel better if they conflated it with race.


The rates effectively differ per race. You could say that this is just about legal votes - but then, why not make sure everybody has similar access? Make the change years ahead, announce it, simplify the process to get the ID, (specifically for poor groups) etc. - everybody wins.

But if a group that is preferred by white people pushes just for the introduction/enforcement of that rule, knowing that it gives them an advantage? You could play semantics and talk about groups affected by income, etc. That's an interesting discussion and could give higher confidence numbers. But the practical effect is that with the ID enforcement, at most 5% of likely supporters and at most 13% of likely opposition group lose the right to vote.


> The rates effectively differ per race. You could say that this is just about legal votes - but then, why not make sure everybody has similar access?

Because politics and vote count. Same reason why re-districting/gerrymandering happens.

> You could play semantics and talk about groups affected by income, etc. That's an interesting discussion and could give higher confidence numbers. But the practical effect is that with the ID enforcement, at most 5% of likely supporters and at most 13% of likely opposition group lose the right to vote.

This is towards what I'm saying -- it's about expected votes from districts. If the motivation from the Democrats is about voter blocs, that's about winning positions and not about "fighting racism", but they're go with the latter because emotional appeal.


> The idea is strict penalties to discourage use

An idea so thoroughly rebuked by countless studies around the US and the world as to be effectively useless. And anyone in a law-making position who with a straight face pleads ignorance to this deserves ridicule.


To be sure, I didn't say anything about the effectiveness of harsher sentencing on addictive substances (as I'm not very well read on this subject), but that's the intent of coming down harder on endemics caused by substances that are cheap to produce and quick to gain usage.


>There's nothing intrinsic in someone's skin color or ethnic background that would cause someone to not have a valid ID

Not in race, but socioeconomic classes, yes.


You provide no proof of the anecdote you made, specifically:

> My black friends get pulled over all the time for "driving while black."

read the WP page on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_while_black

unless you or your friend have statistics for you area, there is no way to diagnose individual cases of DWB.

How did you come by the links you provided? If you googled "racism in america", for example, your results will be biased towards certain kinds of evidence, having the same result as cherry-picking.

> Stop and Frisk laws disproportionately target people of color

The article says: "Where there are black and Hispanic majorities, so too is there increased stop-and-frisk activity". The article doesn't give enough information to conclude what's going on (and we also don't know if what is shown is representative of relevant statistics available on that area), but the best they can conclude is "race is undeniably a factor" - this is not the same as "racism".

Aslso, in the comments of that article: https://spatialityblog.com/2012/07/27/nyc-stop-frisk-cartogr...

> Punishment for crack-cocaine (mainly black users) was 10x worse than powder cocaine (mainly rich, white users), even though it's the same drug.

Again, you push a correlation, and imply causation as proof of racism. You could do the same with loans: too much or too little can be harmful. In the case of crack "it's the same drug" isn't relevant, if it was, why would black users just switch to powder cocaine? It's the answers to that question that shows the difference, and the reason crack is considered more harmful.

It's also not entirely true that crack is a different substance:

"despite the fact that powder cocaine and crack cocaine both derive from cocaine, the two are different substances." -- http://cocaine.org/the-difference-between-powder-cocaine-and...

Whatever the chemical basis, crack is made from powdered cocaine, and:

> crack cocaine is more psychologically addicting than powder cocaine, and is thus more likely to result in chronic and heavy use

take from that what you will. maybe the above is a result of it's association with poor, or even black users. But whatever the case, it does cause more harm. Why assume harsher penalties are there to harm black/poor/etc communities, when we are talking about a severely harmful substance. Are things better when drugs like this are treated with lighter sentences?

> North Carolina basically admitted to creating laws to stop black voters from voting

I'm not so familiar with this one, but I do feel there is more correlation stated here, with some questions about causation:

Some raised here: http://www.dailywire.com/news/7992/5-statistics-show-voter-i...

for example:

> African American voters, who were less likely to hold the required forms of photo ID

The suggestion here is that this is why the vote was restricted in this way. But ID restrictions also correlate with attempts to reduce voting fraud, plus what isn't there a difference between IDs held and IDs that can be obtained?

> The state argued in court that "counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black" and "disproportionately Democratic," and said it did away with Sunday voting as a result.

put another way, Sunday voting is racist, because it disproportionately aids black voters? without more context about the effect of Sunday voting on voter opportunity/consistency, it's not really possible to judge.

More concerning to me are perhaps the claims of undue focus, e.g.:

> fraud was more common in mail-in absentee voting, which was not affected

However, I would be skeptical given the other things in the article claimed to be "smoking guns".

In summary, I don't dispute the above might be true, but I'm not convinced by the article above , because they don't answer some basic, obvious questions I'd have about the implied causes.


> crack cocaine is more psychologically addicting than powder cocaine, and is thus more likely to result in chronic and heavy use

What the heck is this nonsense ? crack is more addictive because it takes a shorter route to the brain. the shorter the route the more addictive it is. And that's on the premises that a substance can be addictive and not a matter of lifestyle and lack of a fulfilling life. (See rat park and Bruce Alexander).


Are you not agreeing with this statement?

Also, I covered that association may also be a factor. The point is, crack is seen as having a greater effect of harm, so it's not clear harsher sentences are intended to harm black communities.


sigh

Yet again, I initially receive nothing but downvotes for providing a full response with various counterpoints, links etc, yet no comebacks or refutations...


Your intentional ignorance of the violent history of racism in our voting systems is your argument's own refutation.


A refutation is a refutation, a soundbite is not.

You know neither my intent, nor knowledge; but a "violent history of racism in our voting systems" is irrelevant to a discussion of statistics.

Read the last line of my previous post.


The US is statistically racist: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/02/civil-rights-act-an...

That's just the first link I found of ddg. It's plenty easy to find more. Things are getting better, but we are far from done with this fight.

Anecdotally: I've lived on the west-coast, and the midwest/south. In both areas I have seen blatant racism take place both culturally by individuals, and systematically by police.

As an American, I ashamedly disagree that this is at all libel.


Huffington Post is garbage. That link is full of correlation or data points and then ascribing racism.


Nice try. None of those "stats" prove that the US is racist. It shows disparities based on race, but racism is one of many possible reasons. I could throw up a number of "stats" proving the US isn't racist (anymore than any other country).


So, the effects of our decisions end up with racist results, yet we aren't racists? If it acts like a duck...


Your default is to attribute something you do not fully understand to racism? To trade folksy expressions, the boy who cried wolf...


No, my default is to look at the statistical evidence around me. The statistics are showing that we treat other races worse than we treat white people. Nothing I'm saying is a lie, so I'm not even sure how your expression applies.


> No, my default is to look at the statistical evidence around me.

No, you're going by anecdote and perception, which is why you fell back to "well I think it looks racist".

> The statistics are showing that we treat other races worse than we treat white people.

Who is we in this scenario? Keep in mind that you're trying to prove that the US is majority racist.

> Nothing I'm saying is a lie, so I'm not even sure how your expression applies.

You stated "if it acts like a duck... (it's probably a duck)" to sidestep having to prove that the US is systematically racist. To you, it's not a lie and you've constructed a fallacy in which the onus would be to convince you, personally to change your perception.

The expression applies because if everything and everyone is slated as racist, when actual racism happens, reports of it will just be lost in the noise.


Really? all those numbers I've pulled up is anecdote and perception? Interesting. Mind telling me how statistics works again?

I will admit that I don't know if I would argue that the US is majority racist (the op comment does indeed say that). I don't have the stats on that, and I don't legitimately think we could get those. So if that is what you are arguing for, I won't argue against. I'm only arguing that the US has a big problem with racism that we still need to deal with, which is far from solved. Enough that I would consider us a "racist" nation.


Your brother got sick, that's proof you poisoned him. If it acts like a duck...


k


To be fair, that doesn't necessarily mean that the US is statistically racist, whatever that means. Societal racism in the past, immigration, etc can lead to a situation where a particular race will still be behind generations later in terms of wealth. It takes money to make money.

I think you're right that there's still societal racism in America but just looking at wealth doesn't account for immigration or past racism.


This is a good point. I guess you could call it "momentum" of a sort, but I'm not sure if it would be possible to get any real numbers on that. I'd love to hear ideas about how to do that though.


Racism is the name of certain kinds of prejudice, not results. When different races start out in different concrete circumstances and different norms taught by families, different results for them may or may not be caused by people acting on racist opinions.


+1 For Huffington Post nonsense. That is your first problem. Stop reading that garbage.


> That's just the first link I found of ddg. It's plenty easy to find more.


The Huffington Post, really? They are nothing more that DNC staffers with bylines.


> I'm well-travelled

You're in the minority of US citizens. Doesn't necessarily prove the earlier point, but your rebuttal, qualifying yourself as "well-travelled", explicitly makes your perspective that of a minority's view.

How is it "libel" to label a majority of a population something? If our regulations are a reflection of the population's positions (arguably, they are), then we're definitely afraid of people from other countries.


> You're in the minority of US citizens.

Oh come off it -- I said within and outside of the US as a suggestion that I've met many people and that my view isn't representative of a 10km radius.

Americans even have other cultures built into their language and core identities (self-identifying as Irish-American, Italian-American, Native American, African-American). If you have a serious suggestion for how to improve something, make that suggestion and don't try to legitimize it by spewing insults as a smoke screen for a half=baked thesis.

> How is it "libel" to label a majority of a population something?

Because you're peddling an offensive fiction.

> If our regulations are a reflection of the population's positions (arguably, they are), then we're definitely afraid of people from other countries.

You can start by proving this. How are "we definitely afraid"?


> If you have a serious suggestion for how to improve something, make that suggestion and don't try to legitimize it by spewing insults as a smoke screen for a half=baked thesis.

Thank you for saying this. I've been quite frustrated before and since the election about this. It seems that the left has (and has been doing it for a while) created a "these are the good people" vs the bad people mentality. I want rational people who make decisions based on evidence. Not something that "jim posted a meme on fb.. that's evidence that the meme is real"


For the very little it's worth, I consider myself "far left" and I'm beyond burned out on the garbage strategies and candidates from the party of which I'm affiliated. There are enough problems in the world that we don't need people inventing dragons.


> You can start by proving this. How are "we definitely afraid"

Riling people up to "build a wall". Language about immigrants coming in to rape our children, steal our jobs, etc. I don't know what part of the US you're well-travelled in, but much of the Trump rhetoric of last summer struck a nerve with many folks in my area. Now, they're not chanting in the streets and burning effigies, but they mostly are "afraid" of different folks ('afraid' or 'disdainful' of).

I can't "prove" this anymore than you can "prove" it doesn't exist, but these attitudes are not a statistical aberration in my circles.

> I said within and outside of the US as a suggestion that I've met many people and that my view isn't representative of a 10km radius.

But... if you're someone who's travelled around a lot - say, outside the US (which you seem to imply), you are definitely in a minority. There are only around 100m US citizens who have passports at all. If you've travelled internationally, you're in a minority.

If you were trying to make some other point, maybe be more specific. But your initial rebuttal that you "disagree", presumably because you're "well travelled"... base your disagreement on something which connects you with a majority of the public (and there very well may be ways to do that, but "I'm well travelled" already disconnects your experiences from a majority of your countrymen, assuming you're a US citizen).

Also, I don't think you can "libel" a population. You can say libelous things about a person ("a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation") but not a large group. My only experience of the word over the past several decades is in cases involving an individual (or individual entity in some cases). You might write libelous things about Bill Gate, or possibly even Microsoft, but not "the computer industry" or "business".


Recently on Hannity, Newt Gingrich just calmly tossed off "politics is sublimated civil war" or some such. Well, the last campagn looked tough, maybe like a case of civil war but rarely actually significantly physically violent -- e.g., the two sides were not actually firing muskets at each other.

But somehow there were a lot of accusations of racism, sexism, ..., etc. without references, details, rational support, evidence, examples, etc. It was as if the speaker was just trying to please, get the support (in the civil war) of people who would agree, for whatever reason. Then the speaker was willing to offend people who wanted evidence or disagreed. So, the campaign went.

Now people are still passing out various, broad and/or narrow, accusations of racism, etc. without evidence, references, examples, etc.

Okay, I'll chip in an example: Not too difficult to find is

http://spectator.org/64643_when-trump-fought-racists/

which claims to be from November 13, 2015, 9:00 am on how some years ago Trump worked hard in the wealthy area Palm Beach, FL to eliminate racism in the private clubs. So, apparently the situation had long been for rich WASPs or some such and others need not apply. In the fight Trump opened his club, and before he was done he filed a lawsuit. According to the article, basically he won; at least on the surface, and, at least in public policy statements or some such, now all the clubs in Palm Beach admit while ignoring race.

So, that's some evidence that Trump fought racism.

My point: In the campaign such evidence was mostly ignored. So, there were lots of accusations of racism, etc., but without any serious evidence.

The US knows very well what good evidence is. We use only good information, evidence, etc. in mechanical engineering of airplanes, ships, buildings, bridges, etc., in electrical and electronic engineering, in computer science, e.g., a proof that heap sort runs in O( n ln(n) ), in law, medicine, science, military technology, etc. But in the civil war of politics, somehow the accusations go without evidence.

So, with the low level of evidence, the accusations grow wilder. I shut out such accusations and occasionally posted blog and feedback entries and wrote e-mail letters of protest at the lack of evidence. I tried to push back; I saw no evidence of success.

But I remain surprised at the number of people who apparently believe the commonly given accusations, give no evidence, and apparently have seen no evidence.

The good news is that accusations with no evidence should fly about like a wet paper airplane. The bad news is that apparently too many people are quite prepared to spout and/or believe really bad accusations with no significant evidence at all.



Good: Now we have more evidence, information, references, etc., and that's a lot better for our democracy than just a list of accusations.


> Doesn't necessarily prove the earlier point, but your rebuttal, qualifying yourself as "well-travelled", explicitly makes your perspective that of a minority's view.

Look at it this way: 'mjolk' could be well travelled within the United States and have a very good idea of Americans sentiments. Therefore (s)he could be confidently expressing a true statement. Also, being a minority voice is not an indicator of how truthful or accurate someone is. When people believed the Earth was flat, were the minority of thinkers who decided it was round any less credible?

You are right about the word libel though, it's the wrong word in this instance. I can't think of a better substitute better than 'generalizing' though.


I picked "libel" because I consider it damaging to the reputation of the US to be painted as categorically racist/xenophobic.

For what it's worth, I wasn't in love with the word choice, but I've not had a recent exchange in which one side is shouting "racist" and something productive come about -- and I should be working :)


> Look at it this way: 'mjolk' could be well travelled within the United States and have a very good idea of Americans sentiments.

fair point - hadn't considered that angle.

And yes, being in the minority doesn't necessarily make you right or wrong. Being "well-travelled" still strikes me as being tied in with a degree of wealth/power/autonomy that the average person doesn't have, and it may be harder to truly understand the 'average' citizen when you're in a position to travel (internally and internationally?), which most people aren't. Much like I think it's pretty hard for most multi-millionaires (especially 2nd and 3rd generational ones) to represent my interests or understand my real concerns in elected offices.


Prove that the average US citizen is more xenophobic and racist than any the average citizen of any other country then. I think you'll find the opposite. The US deals with these issues in the open, something Europe is only now being forced to do.


It doesn't matter if the US is more or less xenophobic than someone else. It matters that the the US is xenophobic. Just because other countries are indeed racist doesn't make it OK for the US to be.


> Prove it.

Latin american here. From our perspective, the last presidential election is all the evidence we need.

But, in all truth, many Latin American countries are even more racist than the US.


What specifically was racist in the US presidential election?

Keep in mind that the parent comment stated "a large majority of the US population is xenophobic and/or racist".


Many Americans voted for a candidate who has catered racist supporters and put forth a variety of xenophobic policies and made even more statements in that regard.

As a simple example, our current president campaigned on a wall to keep out "rapist" Mexicans and to prevent anyone who was Muslim from entering the country because they were terrorists. Those are both explicitly xenophobic statements. They "showing a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries". Still, about 60 million people voted for him, which means that to those 60 million, either his statements were a good thing, or they were minor enough downsides as to be ignored.


Jesus Christ. The President said that people from Mexico have come to the US and committed crimes including rape. Is that untrue? If it is true, should we be letting them in?

He also said that he would block any immigration from Muslim countries until those people could be fully vetted. You only need to look at the Paris, German and UK attacks to see the consequences of not doing that.

Neither of those sound all that unreasonable to me.


That's not what he said though. Specific quote: (you can find many sources)

> They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.

Which is a much stronger claim than what you wrote.

> Is that untrue? If it is true, should we be letting them in?

It's true that some people moved from country X to country Y and committed crime Z, for almost any chosen X, Y, Z. Yes, US should be letting people in. Just as other countries should be letting Americans in.

We don't have ability to read minds and predict the future. The best alternative you have is past statistics and unless you've got statistics that show rape is a really disproportionate between country X and the US, (and even that needs a lot of context besides numbers) this claim is just repeating bad stereotypes.

Or in case you want a specific example that works the other way: "Americans are child murderers (just look at school shootings) and drug abusers (look at number of jailed for drugs) and some, I assume, are good people. Other countries shouldn't let Americans in if they don't want those problems."


> Yes, US should be letting people in.

Wait, why? My understanding is that the rhetoric was specifically about illegal immigration. Why should the US not police its borders or its people lose the ability to make decisions on immigration?


Depends... there are at least two things to think about.

One is: do you really think that it's feasible to build such wall, staff it with people, 24/7 monitoring, uninterrupted power, etc. etc. (seriously, think about the geography of the region and how insanely huge that project would have to be and how much would it cost) or is the wall just a name for general direction which will affect everybody? Border rules are usually there just to stop people you don't want, but they do affect many others as well because of process issues.

Second: If either an actual wall, or some kind of extra restrictions come into play, even if aimed at just the illegal immigration - what effect would it have on the legal movement? What effect would it have on ratios of criminals -vs- others? For example, even crappy treatment from TSA discourages people from flying. Extra restrictions may discourage a family going on (legal) holidays. But will it really discourage drug trade, where people already risk their lives as it is?


At what point did I suggest that a literal wall is the solution?

> what effect would it have on the legal movement?

Why would it have an effect? The process to come to the United States is well-documented and there are US tax-payer backed services to help guide people through the process. From direct experience, it's a predictable, bureaucratic machine.

> But will it really discourage drug trade, where people already risk their lives as it is?

Possible, because tighter controls or deportations of people in the US against its laws clamps down on the support structures needed to help coordinate and support trafficking. However, illicit drug trade isn't the only negative effect from illegal immigration -- there's also a lowering of domestic wages, increased burden on social services, and human health risk as illegal immigrant peoples are hesitant to engage the police or housing services when major issues arise.


> Why would it have an effect?

Chilling effect. Just in this thread, you can find 4 people who say they avoid flying to/through the US because of treatment at the border. You can add me to that list as well for the next 4 years. Those decisions don't exist in a vacuum - if you introduce restrictions in one part of the process, people will notice.


> Chilling effect. Just in this thread, you can find 4 people who say they avoid flying to/through the US because of treatment at the border.

The internet is a hyperbolic place. There's nothing saying those people would have come to the US anyway.

> You can add me to that list as well for the next 4 years.

With the lack of introspection happening in my political party, you might want to double that estimate.


> The process to come to the United States is well-documented and there are US tax-payer backed services to help guide people through the process. From direct experience, it's a predictable, bureaucratic machine.

All you need is luck (lottery), love (maybe), a job, and, on average, about $25K available for immigration fees alone.


> a specific example that works the other way: "Americans are child murderers (just look at school shootings) and drug abusers (look at number of jailed for drugs) and some, I assume, are good people. Other countries shouldn't let Americans in if they don't want those problems."

The problem with the example is it is purely qualitative, not quantitative.

Yet, I notice, in comparison to Trumps quote you tacked something on the end:

> Other countries shouldn't let Americans in if they don't want those problems.

Did Trump suggest all Mexican immigration end forever?


> The problem with the example is it is purely qualitative, not quantitative.

That could be interpreted in many ways. Could you explain what you meant by that?

> Did Trump suggest all Mexican immigration end forever?

I don't know. And I don't see how it's relevant to this discussion. I haven't mentioned "all" and "forever". Sounds like a straw man argument.


Qualitative, as in, that something us without scale or magnitude.

Quantitative, as in, with quantity such that different qualities can be compared wrt relative magnitude.

You're original statement was that other countries "shouldn't let Americans in". If this doesn't apply to all, and forever, then it might be comparable to Trumps quote.


Was it "their rapists" or "they're rapists" that he said? One makes sense in the context, the other makes people outraged.


No, he said (and this is a direct quote):

>Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on,

He later walked this claim back, but the statement was originally a ban on immigration by anyone of a given religion, not anyone from certain territories. Those claims were later walked back by other republicans, but the original claim made by Trump was for a ban on all Muslim immigration (which is on its face unconstitutional).


That's not a quote from Trump, but rather a quote from an article describing what he said.

This is what he said:

"When Mexico sends it people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,"

Now I'm not going to defend the delivery. I don't think Mexico "sends" people in general, but it may happen (e.g. Mariel boat lift).

However, if the message is that bad people from Mexico are getting into the country and that should stop, I don't think anyone could argue that. Could it actually be stopped? Probably not, but it's worth trying.


FYI the quote on Muslims is a direct quote from his website.

https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-...


>ban on all Muslim immigration (which is on its face unconstitutional).

There are plenty of respected and knowledgeable legal scholars who disagree.


I can find literally 0 constitutional lawyers who agree with this statement. The only people I can find who believe it might be constitutional are non-constitutional laywers quoted by Breitbart. Every other article I looked at (and it was >20) had multiple people stating that a religious test would be unconstitutional, and that the only leg they might have to stand on was that an immigrant not allowed into the US wouldn't have any way to sue the US government to raise the issue in the court system.


Prior to writing my response I did a brief search and in less than five minutes found multiple such people. Here are some:

1. Eric Posner - http://ericposner.com/is-an-immigration-ban-on-muslims-uncon...

2. Peter Spiro & David Martin - http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/donald-trump-muslim-re...

3. John Banzhaf - http://lawnewz.com/high-profile/president-obama-is-wrong-on-...

And here (http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2015/12/constitution-chec...) is a discussion that points out that it's a complicated question and "led some scholars to the confident conclusion that a flat ban on Muslims would now be upheld, without judicial interference."


1. "It would raise complicated questions, but might not be unconstitutional, if only because of bad precedent"

2. Isn't referring to a ban on Muslim immigration, but on a registry, which is a whole different beast

3. Banzhaf isn't a constitutional Lawyer, he's the one quoted by breitbart, btw, and what he glosses over is the very relevant 'detrimental to the united states' aspect of the Plenary Powers doctrine. It is much easier to make an argument that we should suspend immigration from a state we are at war with than from a religion, since it is practically impossible to make the argument that Muslims are more detrimental to the united states than Christians or Atheists.

and your fourth article concludes by saying

>It does seem reasonably clear that, if a proper challenger could be found, the courts very likely would be open to hear their claim. And it would not be a sure thing that they would lose in that forum.


1. A more accurate restatement of what Posner wrote is "It's probably constitutional and any argument the other way has an uphill struggle." When it comes to constitutionality, SCOTUS precedent is not good or bad, it's simply is reality.

2. Fine, my bad.

3. Him being quoted by Breitbart means nothing. I mean Obama has been quoted by them. Clinton has been. Pretty much every single prominent Democrat politician has been. The only thing that is exposed by saying "breitbart" is that you disagree with the right.

And on the fourth, exactly. I'm not arguing whether it's constitutional or not. I'm saying that anyone who says that it's unconstitutional on it's face is full of it. It's clearly not obviously unconstitutional as people who study the constitution and work in the field feel that it could go either way.


>When it comes to constitutionality, SCOTUS precedent is not good or bad, it's simply is reality.

It depends, there are SCOTUS rulings that (most) people consider "bad". These create precedent.

>Him being quoted by Breitbart means nothing. I mean Obama has been quoted by them. Clinton has been. Pretty much every single prominent Democrat politician has been. The only thing that is exposed by saying "breitbart" is that you disagree with the right.

No, I was pointing out that I had already addressed this specific example when I stated that "The only people I can find who believe it might be constitutional are non-constitutional laywers quoted by Breitbart." Banzhaf is the non-constitutional lawyer who was quoted by Breitbart. Now, you're quite correct that I don't find Breitbart to be a reliable source of news (although construing that to 'I disagree with the right' is a bit of gymnastics), but its also orthogonal to my point.

> I'm saying that anyone who says that it's unconstitutional on it's face is full of it.

That also very much depends. If we're talking " a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States", that is on its face unconstitutional, since it includes American Citizens. If we're talking a registry, it probably isn't. If we're talking about refugees who are Muslim, then there's the grey area. But if you take him at the words he used, it is unconstitutional, and most of the blogs have caveats that say something along the lines of "a ban on American Citizen Muslim's returning from abroad is unconstitutional on its face, so we'll ignore that and talk about refugees and immigrants"


We're talking about Muslim immigration. An American citizen who happens to be Muslim coming into the country isn't immigration, it's entry.


You may be, but trump didn't say anything about Muslim immigration, he said a and again, I'm quoting his website:

> a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States

A shutdown of entry, to use your own words.


The Paris attackers were French. So were the Nice ones. They were third generation immigrants. Are you suggesting to vet all of these? If yes, you've got some work ahead of you, considering your country is one of immigration.


You can't stop them all, so why even try? Is that your argument?

All the 9/11 hijackers were on visas. They should have been stopped from coming in. At least one of them was.


No, I was just pointing out that linking your arguments to Paris attacks was complete crap and that you ought to check your facts of you want to give any credibility to your arguments.


> From our perspective, the last presidential election is all the evidence we need.

I am not American nor am I white but calling all the people who voted for Trump as racists is disingenuous.

If you are a middle age person whose job went overseas, you cant find another job, you know Washington is corrupt , you hear an outsider saying that he is going to bring back jobs and make America great. You like that message and you vote for him. You just ignore rest of the things he says because what choice do you have, all you hear about Clinton is her email scandal.


Never been to the U.S. but in my travels it turned out americans are pretty racist and xenophobic. Coming from Switzerland where i thought people are racist i was kind of shocked


I wonder how long before we start requesting visitors to this country begin wearing tracking devices.


> Not to mention, a large majority of the US population is xenophobic and/or racist.

There's no place on HN for such belligerent, vapid crap like this.


Since it is statistically true, I'd disagree.


Then why not provide statistics?


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/02/civil-rights-act-an...

First link I found off ddg. There are plenty more with a simple search


You already posted that link, and objections were raised.

> So, the effects of our decisions end up with racist results, yet we aren't racists?

It seems like you use a different definition of the word "racist" to me. What exactly is a "racist result"?

Likewise, you use a different definition of the word "statistics" to me also. Even you don't think it's a great example.


> You already posted that link, and objections were raised.

And no matter what link I post, someone will have a problem with it. It's easy to find these stats, they aren't new. How about this: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonoberholtzer/2012/07/17/stop... or this: https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-racial-d... or this: https://mic.com/articles/96452/one-troubling-statistic-shows..., I could do this all day, but I wont. Those were just on the first page of results. There are stats everywhere about how bad we are.

My definition would be that you are disproportionately less likely to have violent police actions taken against you, disproportionately less likely to be in poverty, disproportionately more likely to go to college, etc. if you are white. While I don't think the stats of these ever will be proportional (nor necessarily should they be), it's clear from everything I've seen that there is what I would define as an unofficial "class separation".

Anecdotally: I have met seen people who "wouldn't hire blacks" or "didn't want no mexican working above any whites". These people are hard to gets statistics on, because they would never admit to being racist. These statistics reflect that hidden reality that nobody would openly admit to.


It's kind of irrelevant if someone had a problem with it, what relevant is if they can back up that opinion.

The results you are posting have the same problems HuffPo have. The fact that there are a large number of these sites isn't relevant to their quality. Again "stats" need to be high quality, not just stated and repeated.

> My definition would be that you are disproportionately less likely to...

Does that mean that if asians are doing better than whites, then there is something racist there to?


These stories have been around forever.

Customs officials in all countries have broad latitude to inspect incoming passengers and baggage. Fucking around with them and refusing to answer or evading questions is franking a stupid strategy.

What has changed is that there is more inspections and more theatre. They are more consistent(-ly awful) everywhere, including sleepy Canadian broader crossings.


I cross the US/Canadian border in such a sleepy location once or twice every year. My experience is that the Canadian officials are professional and friendly whereas the US officers are sarcastic assholes. Note: I am a white US citizen.


I have a friend who lives in Canada and every year I mail her a birthday gift from the US. And every year I have to write on the outside of the box exactly what's inside and how much it costs. This is not hugely important, but I would prefer that she not know what's inside until she unwraps it and I would also like that she not have the exact price written right there.

So one year, after having moved to Seattle, I thought I could drive the gift across the border, make my declarations there and then mail it from Surry, BC. So I took my gift -- unwrapped -- in it's shipping box -- untaped -- and drove to the border. When I got to the window they asked why I was visiting Canada. I honestly told them that I was coming to ship a package and explained why.

I spent the next three hours sitting in a waiting room while they went through my cell phone, they went through the open box I was going to mail, charged me import duties, went through my car from top to bottom. Eventually they sent me on my way. I drove ten minutes to a UPS store and mailed the package.

Returned to the US, when I arrived at the booth, I handed them the paperwork the Canadian side had given me, they noted the time and asked why I had visited Canada and why it was only forty-five minutes, I explained that I was mailing a package, handed them the receipt from the UPS store and explained why. They laughed and waved me through.

Border crossing can be hit or miss depending on the mood of the agent.


Funnily enough, I tend to get the opposite reaction. Have has some pretty miserable treatment from Canadian border guards at the Peace Arch crossing, but never the same from their American counterparts. I'm Canadian.

Of course, this might just be luck of the draw.


Also a Canadian and I get grilled more by Canadian border guards than American, though I think they are picking up on me because I traveled quite regularly when I was living in Canada.

They would ask me questions like "how long are you going to be in Canada?" when I'd answer that I didn't know, they would press me about why I didn't know. One guy who had held me up for far too long, I basically told him "I'm Canadian, you don't have an option to let me in or not" at that point, he let me through...


American here: I got grilled at the Canadian border because I'm an IT Worker. They were concerned over the period of a weekend I'd violate NAFTA. Coming back in the same car at the end of the weekend: I was grilled and isolated from my car about all that I did in Canada by the US side. [At that time they didn't understand what AirBnB was]


> "I'm Canadian, you don't have an option to let me in or not"

Be careful with that - while they have to let you in, your stuff is another matter.


Well, there are nicer ways to say it... but still. "I'm Canadian, I live here, I haven't decided yet."

I'm kind of surprised that this was even a question for a Canadian citizen.


As a fellow Canadian non-resident I get this all the time too. The reason is because if you are returning there are tax and duty implications - e.g. the car your probably driving needs to be imported. When I moved back a few years ago (only to leave again) I had to have a slew of returning resident paperwork so my stuff could come duty free.


Same here, Canadian citizen as well. I've been absolutely grilled by the Canadians, but never by the US side.


American and Canadians grill me more. What is my wife's birthday? How many days are we staying? What day of the week are we leaving?

American guard is like "do you have more than 5 bottles of wine you need to declare? No, cool"


I've never been grilled by either. But the Americans always ask mor questions. Canadians are "welcome home", Americans usually ask a few standard questions to probe my reasons but nothing approaching a grilling. Just a light toasting.

Contrast with Russian customs who looked at my passport and said "Canada? Okay go"


I've found it varies dramatically by crossing point. As an American driving across the border I frequently get lots of questions on either side. Flying it has been full grilling to basically nothing on either side.

Flying into Toronto City airport I frequently just get a nod and hand wave.


I have dual citizenship, both Canadian and US (naturalized Canadian and born in the US), and frequently cross at one of the "sleepy" border crossings as well.

When I get to the Canadian border, once they realize I'm Canadian, everything changes. It's a very friendly, warm greeting like a couple of old buddies that are heading out for a beer. My American wife, who's watched this a ridiculous number of times is just blown away by how I'm treated.

However, at the US border, while not always bad, I have run into several border agents that have been pure assholes. I've been detained and searched a number of times and have always been polite to a fault - I'm as white as the driven snow and have never broken a law, or been arrested. But you would think I'm flagged as a suspected drug runner or potential terrorist sympathizer. Sadly, it's simply not a stereotype.


Yup .... exactly. I think that we run drugs or something if we live close to the border, or are dualies. US border patrol are a bunch of asshats.


The last time I went to Canada, I was on a men's yacht cruise from Lake Erie to Lake Huron, and at one point we docked on the Canadian side, took a ride to a restaurant, and had a great dinner. So, we had to go through Canadian customs or whatever.

I had no passport, and the Canadian customs didn't ask for one.

The Canadian customs officials were all women, looked friendly, and were smiling. It looked like Canada was a really nice place!

So, I joked, self deprecating, that here I was, a US citizen from the crass, crude, violent, insensitive, vulgar US! :-) Right away with some seriousness of agreement the Canadian woman concurred! Still, it was a nice trip to Canada! I like Canada and hope to go back!

Of course, next time, in trying to return, maybe the US customs won't let be back in!


Exactly what I was just thinking. I was traveling on a foreign passport (from one of America's closest allies) as a personal guest of one of the most senior legal advisers to the POTUS at the time. Crossing into Canada? Pleasant. Crossing back? Oh. My. God. They lost their shit at me because some members of my family travelling on passports from the same country were in the vehicle behind us instead of with me. This was pre-9/11, and we were all on tourist visas. No idea why it was such a problem for them.


I don't cross often, but I know a few people who do often. I've heard both complaints.

I think it depends heavily on the crossing and the specific staffing there. You have two jurisdictions sort of working side by side, so there's lots of fodder for tit-for-tat bullshit.


I couldn't agree with you more. Even in Buffalo, I cross about once every two months - if not more - and the Canadian folks are nothing more than polite. This includes Washington State, Minnesota, and New York crossings. I ENCOURAGE people to travel to Canada from the US. The ONLY time I ever had issues was with coming back into the US. The US border searched my car, my electronics, my cameras (I'm a pseudo-high end landscape guy) and basically I find the US re-entry as a US-citizen to be absolutely fucking insanely clownish. I hate the US border patrol though ... but love Canada .. I tolerate the douches.


Enjoy your nice experience of the Canadian border people, just don't get on their list of any kind 'cause if you do you will now have a similar experience of search in your email history and threatened if you refuse to decrypt what's encrypted. Though I do agree the Canadian border is professionals and the risk of brutality, abuse and incarceration is close to none.


Same here. I used to cross in Buffalo/Niagara Falls all the time and the Canadians are as polite as can be. The US guards are assholes.


Are you saying doing everything they say is the better strategy. I worry that likely leads to a world with less liberty.


It's not that, it's more that you want to get in and you have to make sure they don't have a reason to say no. They have something you want (access) and you don't have anything they'd want to grant that. So as soon as you make it hard you're bound to have trouble.


It's illegal for them to deny entry to U.S. citizens.


I'm the author of OP's post. Can you provide me more information about this? I've always wondered if that was the case, but I was once given a lengthy interview in the Amsterdam airport on my way to DEFCON last year, which gave the opposite impression.


If you are a US citizen, US immigration cannot legally refuse you entry. They can make your life miserable (via private questioning, etc.), and US CBP can also make your life miserable (going through all your stuff, questioning you at length, etc.), but they are legally required to allow you into the US if you are a citizen. If they can pin something illegal on you, they can of course detain you and refer you to local or federal authorities, but they must (as a part of that) allow you back into the country. They can't force you to stay in the international zone at the airport, and can't send you to another country.

Now, this only applies to US citizens returning to the US. A US citizen arriving, for example, at Amsterdam, can certainly be turned away for any reason whatsoever.


Thanks for this information. In my example, I was departing Amsterdam for the U.S.


There is a big difference between upholding your rights of privacy while being respectful to the border agents and while being a smart-Aleck. You do not have to do everything they say, but you can stand your ground without trying to antagonize them unnecessarily.


Not really. There is no right to privacy at the U.S. border, so any "upholding" or "stand your ground" is, actually, being a smart aleck / unnecessary antagonization.


Do you not see the difference between being polite and being obnoxious when you decline the search of a device in your possession? Indeed, the border agents can refuse to let you enter the country either way, but the probability of that happening would probably differ in the two cases.


No, I don't see the difference, because people crossing the U.S. border simply don't have any right to decline searches:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception


You can decline the search in which case they can decline to let you in the country. The EFF FAQ has more details.


Interesting - I don't suppose you have a link to relevant part of this FAQ?


Sorry, I was on mobile when writing the previous comment.

Here is the lengthy document I remember: https://www.eff.org/document/defending-privacy-us-border-gui...

They can demand a password from you, you can refuse to give it, and they can then decide not to let you in the country. Being polite and respectful in your refusal to share an encryption key can mean less trouble.

A point that might have caused confusion: they can seize your device. The document does not specify what happens if you decline to give the device (as in whether you are arrested or simply declined entry to the country). As far as I understand the references, courts have not had to decide on this question yet.


Customs is different than dealing with the police. There is no liberty at any border.


Ive been all around the world and never got closer inspected. Given i never were in the U.S. mostly because i am afraid that they know me to well. But nearly all my friends had trouble in the airport when they were. You can not tell me this is normal


Would you want to be the one who relaxed border controls and let the terrorists in?

Yes, that's a stupid question but that's the political trade-off here. Mind blowing inconvenience and temporary invasion of freedoms versus dead children. If anything happened, you and everybody around you would be unelectable. Perhaps for that reason alone this should be put to a national vote. That's a much cleaner way to divest political responsibility.

And while I think there's a lot of evidence that the direct effectiveness of Security Theatre is pretty weak. It's much harder to gauge what would actually happen if they dropped the visual deterrents. Would more people try their luck? Is it worth the risk?


After 9/11 Bush's popularity shot through the roof, so I dispute your claim that terrorism causes a politician to become unelectable. I'm sure you can think of many other events that should have ruined a politician's career but didn't.

The "is removing theater worth the risk" rhetoric, along with "somebody please think of the children", can be used to dismantle ANY of the freedoms we currently enjoy. So I don't find that at all persuasive.

If it's possible for politicians to introduce new invasive laws but impossible to remove them then it's pretty clear where the country ends up.

So yes, it's totally 100% worth the risk. Because the alternative is accepting that all our freedoms will continue to erode, and that's far more depressing than any amount of terrorism.


Firstly, that wasn't my claim. I was talking about doing something that could be seen as a causative action (like lowering airport security).

You seem fairly freedom-uber-alles —as many vocal people are— but it'd be genuinely interesting to get referendum results on issues like this to see just how much freedom people will willingly hand over for the mere hope of added safety for them and their family.

I agree with you. Fear-mongering arguments are used to dismantle freedom all the time and it genuinely inconveniences a lot of people to suffer through things like TFA, but we're talking about a fraction of a percent of travellers. Would the whole agree with you or succumb to herd mentality and try to stay safe, whatever the cost?


Where you italicize "doing", I italicize "seen". Because for politicians what matters is the narrative, not whether there exist a causal link between policy choices and outcomes. After all, politicians get held accountable for the policy choices of their predecessors if they're not careful, and on the flip side try to blame external factors for the fallout of their own failed policies.

I'm not freedom-uber-alles, I'm happy to acknowledge all of politics consists of difficult trade-offs. I think the case for the TSA is especially weak, though, and you seem to agree with me on that. I don't think referendums on these issues would help, because it's too easy to scare people into accepting "temporary measures".


Sorry but first I started to hear about this kind of stories was under Clinton and people from the generation before mine told me it was the same when they were my age. Could date to even before AFAIK, maybe the cold war / WW2.


As an International (not American) citizen who has lived in various countries and travelled extensively, I've made it a point to avoid the US.

Don't get me wrong, the country is absolutely amazing, people are friendly, scenery is outstanding (and this is coming from someone born in NZ). But yeah, border controls are just utterly awful.

I think my first introduction was transiting from Canada to UK via the US in 1999. A very friendly goodbye from the Canadian immigration, then a short walk to probably the most unwelcoming customs I've ever had the displeasure of enduring. But I'll admit, they've been consistent over the past 18 years.

Now that a visa is required even for transit, I've basically just given up and now fly exclusively via Asia. Bonus is, it doesn't get any friendlier than flying Singapore Airlines - and the stopover destinations are awesome.

I've travelled some of the US (not enough) and I absolutely love the country. But yeah, the overzealous security is definitely a turn-off.


Same here, I now avoid the US entirely even for an international flight change.


In a sense, the terrorists had already won. They succeeded in planting fear in our heart.


I've been saying the same since I saw the response after 9/11. Well, I've been thinking it. I found out it is a very unpopular thing to say living in the states, and probably just as weird living outside of it.


Well that's the whole point of terrorism, to create so much fear that entire population/country will become irrational and make stupid decisions that will server the perpetrators. Usually nothing more. And yes, they succeeded in that, helped greatly by US media ala Murdoch's empire (seriously, that guy did more harm to US citizens than most media-demonized guys combined - why is he not in place like Guantanamo?)


Hmm, in a sense you have lost because you use an undefined enemy as being the cause for misery.

Come back when there is an actual definition of terrorism and your side is not guilty of hundred times more of that than the other side.


> As an American citizen who travelled extensively up until TSA made me too miserable to continue,

What happened?


I've been patted down by the TSA. I've had a multi-tool (~$160) and beverages (~$20) confiscated.

I've since obtained TSA pre-check but this is fixing a problem that shouldn't exist.

Additionally, there's some question over TSA's ban on leaving the screening area, see [1] for a survey. For an argument on unreasonable seizures, see David Post's post [2].

[1]:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/201... [2]:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/201...


While I want to and could go for days on end about it, experience tells me that it's better to not poke the bear too much online.


And here is the chilling effect in action, folks.

Enjoy your freedom of speech.


To play devil's advocate, it's pretty easy to claim that the reason you don't want to detail something as personal as your treatment at the hands of the TSA after claiming it was so horrid that it discouraged you from traveling, is that the TSA will somehow find your online Hacker News profile and single you out next time you try and fly. But it's also possible that maybe the poster doesn't want to reveal something personal, or that the treatment might not be considered as severe as the first comment implied by others, or a myriad of reasons.


> , is that the TSA will somehow find your online Hacker News profile and single you out next time you try and fly.

Not hacker news, but my "anonymous" online postings that were anti-TSA most certainly affected my travel experience. And I'm not talking radical activist postings. Just real world bs postings about my continued bad experiences, and my personal opinions such as the one in my original post.


Really? How did they connect your "anonymous" postings to you at the border? Did they go through your web history?


So there is this thing called internet tracking, then there is this other thing called google or is it facebook or is it nsa ? well I don't really remember[1] but they are really good at it. One my friend was interviewed at the border, asked if she was coming to work, answered no, been show her private facebook message saying she would be looking for a job there, got denied entry and put on a special list.

[1]: was it carnivore? echelon? five eyes? man my memory is not so good.


I cannot believe it is possible to actually access private messages in social networks such as facebook in such a willy nilly manner - that is not to say I do not believe you, but can you give some form of proof?

Did they force her to open her account or did they have access beforehand? How did your friend react?


But he explicitly said it's better notbto poke the beat that much online, so your whole reply doesn't make any sense. Unless your whole point was to call GP a liar. Devils advocate my ass.


He or she isn't calling the GP a liar. The GP may legitimately have these fears, but if we don't know the story we can't tell anything about what they mean.


> somehow find your online Hacker News profile and single you out next time

pretty sure they don't know what hacker news is.


Pretty sure they don't have to. It's a big dragnet, and bots to analyse public text are cheap like dirt. But yes, I'm sure they know any place a hacker is likely to hang out quite well. Oops, used the h-word there. Hi bots!


Actually what I meant was the GP said it was an anonymous post, I don't think automatically correlating random usernames to real people is that cheap except in specific cases where username = real name.


Metadata includes the time. And for the internet (as opposed to phones) they trace the whole routing through the net of each message to be sure they have the real origin, and then store that. There's a reason NSA buildings are so big.


Well, you could tell the story of someone you knew who had such and such experience...


you ask that like you need something worse than being forced barefoot in a disgusting floor, going thru an xray machine that haven't been properly documented and having you carefully packed bagage all messed up.

things beyond that are just the icying on the cake.


I guess it's two sides of the same coin.

I wear socks when I travel. In the summer, I run barefoot outside through our gravel parking lot to toughen up my feet.

I don't travel enough by plan to worry about the health effects of an xray machine, but I do drive my car daily.

And well, I don't spend a lot of time carefully packing my suitcase.

So if that's the worst you get from the TSA, well who cares, you're experiencing the same things everyone else who travels in the US.


> going thru an xray machine that haven't been properly documented

Don't forget data retention. Those pseudo-nude pictures of all of us (including your children) are probably stored somewhere for perpetuity.


They stopped using high-fidelity pictures in 2013.

Next time you go through the back-scatter xray, turn around and look at the monitor. It's now a picture of a generic human that shows any area that the agent's should investigate.


Because what is displayed to the scanner agent is totally and definitely all the device will capture and retain...promise :D


they don't even claim that. they now advertise that the high res picture is only seen by specialists that are in a room without view to your face, so thet don't know who they see butt naked. this was explained on the posters in the line.


Yes - I think you do need something more than that to become so defeated that you feel trapped and unable to travel.

I'm not saying that stuff isn't awful. Just that it's minor compared to other hardships that people routinely overcome.


So I should agree to go along with humiliation because other people do? Well that's some fucking logic.


No - I'm just pointing out that you have a choice - the humiliation is not stopping you from traveling. You are doing that to yourself, transforming humiliation into a more diminished life.


I don't think most people feel humiliated taking off their shoes and going through an xray machine.


If anything, most people are just upset that they're stuck in hour long lines waiting to go through security.

When you visit a mosque or a hindu temple, you are required to remove your shoes.

Also being asian, when you visit my house, you are also required to remove your shoes.


I hope your house is cleaner than an airport security line.


^ probably doesn't wash hands before eating food.


Because you can't eat without touching the food with hands... Ler me introduce you to napkins, spoons, forma and knives. Great inventions, those


I feel humiliated when people strip me down with their xrays and then laugh at them for kicks


Have you ever been stripped at an airport and then had the x-rays laughed at?


  ...and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that 
  mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are 
  sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the 
  forms to which they are accustomed.
-Declaration of Independence


I'm not sure when was the time you grew up, but this travel situation was already like in the 1990's just a bit less global (less effective spying maybe) and though documented a lot less publicized.

When you're not an American citizen, even at the time you could be detained indefinitely in high security prison without being able to tell anyone. The story of the guy to whom it actually happened on the motive that he was involved in importing super nintendo legalish accessory (game genie or disk copier or something along these lines) in a different country should still be floating around. Then there is this guy on whom they pulled gattaca stuff as in vacuuming his laptop keyboard and run the collected dust through lab analysis. This is pre-TSA stuff, so IMHO the travel situation in the US has not really changed in nature, only in scale.


If the TSA is really the issue (not customs and border patrol) consider taking the train. It's actually quite a nice way to travel in my experience.


I never understood where this "freedom" comes from. I mean sure you can say whatever you want. Nearly any western country can, with some exceptions. But exactly things like the linked article show how unfree the US is.

Everbody is just arguing about their favorite president, or rather the one they hate less. While all that was left of that "freedom" is slowly breaking away.

Freedom is so much more than freedom of speech...


Copy and paste that whole thing into an email (form on their web site) for you Congressional senators (2) and representative (1). It isn't going to get better unless we complain, or the elected are replaced by people who understand this is a problem. The legacy representatives aren't affected by these policies.


>I grew up in the land of freedom

Yeah the whole TSA is a cruel joke on the whole freedom theme...


That is an interesting parallel to the iron curtain, as people, such as the airport security in other countries, make fun of US airport security now.


It would be fun to start a meme of carrying antiquated electronic waste devices, and getting them confiscated as a means of disposal.

Encrypt them with spacefiller data and start crossing borders, and then refuse to provide passwords and abandon them for sheer amusement.

Way more fun than recycling old laptops and batteries. And better than planning to travel empty handed, in anticipation of getting ripped off by pesky customs guards.


Carry an ancient, worthless 50 pound 2U rackmount server with a giant sticker on it that says "wikileaks mobile data collection unit", while the 6 x 36GB raid array is entirely full of a barebones centos install, ext4 partition and h.264 videos of never gonna give you up.


I've done this, or very nearly this.

In mid-2001 I had to fly from San Jose to Washington Dulles with a Sun Netra 1120 server. It's 4U and FULL length. Weighed about 60 pounds.

I was late for my flight and the datacenter I retrieved it from had no packaging for it so I just carried it onto the plane - bare.

It fit in the overhead.


Surprised they let you do this since most any rack server is longer than the allowable carry-on length.


That will land you in Guantanamo!


That sounds awfully expensive for what amounts to an elaborate prank. :)


Such servers are basically free if you know anyone in the electronics recycling business.


I'm looking to get in touch with anyone with connections to these industries around the Sydney, Australia area.

Long shot, but I'm currently in a position to highly appreciate some new hardware at the moment.


Do you have the power needed to run them? I once had an opportunity to get a huge HP "cluster in a box" server (two computers and a drive array all in one chassis) for not much money. It was looking good until I saw that it needed 20A to run and I'd have to hire an electrician to expand my circuit-breaker box.


Very valid point. Wow, 20A is crazy. I'm curious what model that was, or what I can Google to get an idea of what this was. It sounds pretty big! (FWIW, you can retrofit your powerbox for about $80, if you're in AU, and it's not that hard. Ahem.)

Ultimately I think my answer would be weighing the machine's rareness or unusualness against its power draw, fan noise or other annoyances. More of the former means that I'll accept more of the latter :) but in a worst-case scenario I'll just collect stuff and file it away, for example I was given some Sun V240s a while ago that I hope to be able to fire up when I can rack them in a well-ventilated faraway corner where I can't hear them.

Practically speaking I'm curious where people get rid of i3 based systems and multi-TB HDDs at the moment; I (crazy badly) need a new file server, and (for obscure, fun reasons) saving up for new HDDs is taking quite a few more months (and proving more stressful to my family, sadly) than I'd anticipated.


I don't recall the model (sorry). This was one of the Compaqs that had been given a new HP model name after the acquisition. The 20A was at 110 volts (US standard) so 10A for Australia with your 220 volt standard.

I just replaced a mirrored pair of USB drives running off a Mac Mini with a NAS from Synology. File server, plus Plex server, plus backup server, all in one. It won't be cheap (even factoring in the Australian duty) but it's something that can be tucked into a closet out of sight.


Ah, I see. 10A is still crazy, yeow. I definitely don't have the money for that :)

I've long observed Synology's tech and thought it pretty cool, but in this case I'm trying to consolidate as much as possible onto one machine. I'm trying to find something i3-compatible which has a few PCI slots (ahahaha) - if I can, I can toss one of the old Creative X-Fis I have here in it and get amazing sound straight off the machine with the disks in it, and I can also use some of the other PCI cards I have here too (my pile of junk doesn't have any PCI-E stuff in it yet).

My main focus is just saving up for the HDDs right now. My goal is 5 5TB or 8TB disks so I can use raidz5, which offers 60% storage efficiency and the ability to lose any two disks without issue. The 18-24TB of space is actually needed right now in order to do some serious dedupe across the literally dozens of HDDs I've collected over the years - I've been needing a consolidated file server for about a decade, things have finally snowballed to the point where some of the disks are clicking and I haven't had access to my data for about a year now, heh.

PS - Australia's Internet situation is basically a gigantic laugh (I can only get ADSL2+ - 80KB/s upload :D - where I live), or I'd have pushed everything over to a friend in the States who's letting me borrow his ZFS pool until I get my own set up.


But the airline will charge you $$$ for checking in such a heavy luggage!


You don't have to come in via air. Do this at the Canada-US land border.


The CBP at the tunnel in Detroit are right pricks, this would work a charm on them. They have repeatedly harassed me and anyone unfortunate enough to travel with me.


Do they still just wave people through there, eh? You might have to carry it a long time to get searched.


Apparently they refused entry to, detained, and searched people wanting to go to the protests in DC yesterday. So just wait until an event like that happens again, which is likely to be fairly frequent now.


Actually, I think that was on the US side. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/20/womens-march-c...


The US border guards even refused entry from Canada to the US of Trump supporters who had tickets.


The last time I even came near to, but not into, Canada via train, the train was stopped and heavily armed and body-armored CBP came on board to demand customs documents from everyone, including citizens not leaving the country during their trip.


My Dad has a mailbox for American packages just across the border, they seem to have quotas as his car is searched fairly regularly (it isn't a busy crossing).


I do the same, but with a Nexus card; never been searched, but I always declare what I'm bringing across.


But if you get it seized before takeoff, maybe you get the $$$ back? :-)


Lol, or the old EMC servers, local no-name recycling place I visit occasionally got flooded with a few hundred racks of them a while back.


Look at Craigslist or EBay. When Datacenters upgrade, they dump massive quantities of server gear for cheap.


I'm going to get downvoted into oblivion, but I just gotta tell you that this made me laugh for ten minutes straight.


I decided to upvote you to keep you from oblivion for that much longer.


That is hillarious. And name the files: bad data, really bad data, Really really bad data


This would be checked baggage and would be subject to a different kind of inspection.


> Encrypt them with spacefiller data and start crossing borders, and then refuse to provide passwords and abandon them for sheer amusement.

You don't get that option. The first thing that happens to everybody who is attempting to enter the US and flagged is that they give you a form to write down all keys and passwords you might have, they will then unlock your phone and attempt to find anything that might be used to bar you from entering.

A common method of confirming a profiled person seems to be using the "I have not done illegal drugs" checkbox on the entry documentation, they will find any drug reference on your devices using the passwords they just discovered. If you answer "yes", you're a criminal and you are barred from entry. If you answer "no" and they find any reference to any recreational drug, no matter the context, you just lied to a federal officer and you are barred from entry.

One rejection is enough to ban you for life from ESTA, so for most people entering the US who don't have a temporary working visa, being profiled is the last time you'll ever be able to enter the united states. A woman I was speaking to was bumped back onto their flight for a 3 year old SMS on her phone where a friend asked if she wanted to come over and smoke a joint.


The recreational drug thing is not something new, in the late 1990's a profiled guy coming to speak at a convention (linux convention ?) got his laptop vacuum and lab analyzed, results got back that at some point this 7 years old laptop had been in a place where there was marijuana according to the trace amount found. The guy got sent back. He had stopped smoking marijuana 4 or 5 years earlier.


I will refuse giving keys to hdd/usb, pretending they are randomly empty. I will give it to the phone (and have nothing there).

This prohibits them from barring me from entering, and allow them only to seize the hdd/usb.


The advice I've heard is that if you're concerned about being compelled to release passwords or encyption keys you should cross borders with no personal/work data on your devices. This avoids any 'half-truths' that could still get you into trouble. Once you have safely crosed, download what you need from during your trip from your server (and consider using it as a VPN for all your internet browsing).

If the authorities take your device out of your sight, and you're sufficiently paranoid, then discard it and buy fresh hardware.


Buying fresh hardware does not protect from US authorities. Snowden showed that they can actually intercept new hardware to modify it for surveillance. It is better to buy used goods or from store instead of ordering online.


What if I overwrite the partition table with an empty one, say "I'm just carrying empty HDDs", then restore it later? If all the data is encrypted, it will just look random, even if they dump all of it, which is what I imagine a new HDD looks like.


I'm not quite sure what you're trying to accomplish - TSA agents are no more trained in computers than your average mall-cop and if they do decide to inspect your electronics, it's likely because you were flagged already when the ticket was purchased or you rubbed the agent the wrong way. What your drive looks like is probably irrelevant as the decision to copy isn't based on evidence or practicality it's based on an order from higher up or a whim, and then procedure is followed, which for electronics is to plug the drive in and do a copy of some sort.

I mean you can do whatever you want but only the encryption is going to do you any good for actual security. Even if you make it really convincing that the drives are empty, procedure is still going to make them plug it into the copier anyways. I mean, from the article, they're confiscating headphones and power cords - there's no rhyme or reason here except intimidation; the agents don't investigate - someone else does.

Do what you like, but it sounds like hassle you're adding to what is going to happen anyways.


I'm not quite sure what you're trying to accomplish - TSA agents are no more trained in computers than your average mall-cop and if they do decide to inspect your electronics

This depends entirely on the context. If you're a high-value target to an intelligence agency, there's a very high probability they would have someone pose as an agent of the TSA or CBP, or that they would have one of those agencies grant them access to your electronics. Someone involved in the publication of leaks or creation of security-related software would count as a high-value target.

they're confiscating headphones and power cords - there's no rhyme or reason here except intimidation

This, too depends on context. For the average person, the purpose is obviously nothing more than harassment. It's not difficult for a flash drive to be concealed inside a USB cable though, and if you're being targeted for a search, it makes sense for them to take everything.

On the other hand, a MicroSD card can be hidden just about anywhere, so if they're not going through all your stuff with a fine-toothed comb, the whole thing is theater.


> If you're a high-value target to an intelligence agency...

They have threatened to shoot a presidential plane flying over Europe and searched it on the possibility that Snowden might be on board. So yes be aware when you are a person of interest.


While I don't disagree on the possibility of a high value target getting preferential treatment, I'm still not sure why they'd waste the time besides having a slightly more competent agent plugging the stuff in to make sure it's copied. Or just confiscating the drives straight up as they did in the article and sending the target along. There really isn't a need for an on the spot forensic analysis, as the type of equipment you'd need would just be space prohibitive in an airport.

My objection to the commenter's idea was pretty much that they're going out of their way to create a scenario in which it looks like the drive doesn't contain data, but unless you are a high value target, all that work would likely go unnoticed since you're just getting a standard agent. Even if you didn't, and you had a recently graduated CS savant as the agent, it seems more likely that there would be no investigation to wonder "should I copy this drive or not" - they'd just do it. Or just confiscate the drive, etc. You can make the effort to try to make the drives look blank, but that feels a lot like theatre. It'll maybe fool someone looking to pull data, but if they just do some raw disk dump like with dd or most forensic tools, I don't think it makes much of a difference. It's just planning for a situation that really wouldn't happen.

>It's not difficult for a flash drive to be concealed inside a USB cable though, and if you're being targeted for a search, it makes sense for them to take everything. On the other hand, a MicroSD card can be hidden just about anywhere, so if they're not going through all your stuff with a fine-toothed comb, the whole thing is theater.

I'm not really sure on what the argument is here. Again, I think if a high priority target is really going through, they're not taking the microsd with them. There are far better ways of moving such data, such as a trusted 3rd party who receives the parcel through a series of proxies or a secure transmission, etc. If you are a high value target or in a dangerous profession or project that you feel warrants protection, there are a myriad of better ways of moving your sensitive data across checkpoints. If we wanted to get really fancy, you could have carrier pigeon or a falcon fly it across the border, or feed it to a dog and wait for the micro sd card to be pooped out.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't be wary and consider protections, but it just feels like this line of thinking in tech crowds tends to lead to incredibly specific scenarios that their solution resolves when many much more practical solutions exist. Under the auspices of fun mental exercise, I think it's fine, but when we're considering these as actual solutions to the very real threat of government searches at check points, then it's just adding bad suggestions.


> make them plug it into the copier anyways.

I heard USB is a finicky thing, rather hard to implement correctly.

I wonder how many of these copier devices (-- are these dedicated DSM-like units? Probably embedded/outdated Linux then!) were already infected and grep copied contents for relevant data.


1. "empty HDD" may or may not be regarded as suspicious

2. it may not just look random, unless the encryption is done in a way that tries to be plausibly deniable. Not all disk/data encryption methods try to hide their existence.


A new HDD is more probably full of 0s.


Which will be suspicious if the device is not "new in the box".


>This prohibits them from barring me from entering

In practice, you can be barred from entering the US for effectively any reason at all, unless you are a citizen. At the border you have almost no rights at all.


You say that, but put in the situation you'll find your bravado is significantly lessened.


Right. The best scheme requires no bravado. You should be able to tell the truth:

1) use FDE with a LUKS-like scheme where the encryption header can be backed up and then removed (making sure you can restore it at your destination somehow).

2) Destroy the header before travel. Carry live media if you need to use the machine while traveling but keep it minimally provisioned (nothing personal on there).

3) Your machine essentially now contains random data (even to you), perhaps except the partition table and/or boot parition(s). Tell the authorities that you "fill your hardisk up with random data before traveling in case of theft."

This is a true statement because: a) without the LUKS header your own data is essentially random, even to you and b) the scheme does protect your data in the event of theft.

Thus you can safely utter it with no bravado.

An even better scheme would use verified boot of some kind so that if the device is confiscated and returned, and its critical to you, you may have some way of proving the boot loader hasn't been tampered with. But I can't speak as to the difficulty of this.


It's just such a moot point.

If you have relevant data, then you simply don't cross borders with a device containing such data (or with a computer at all). This is just common sense. This "plausible deniable encryption at the border" nonsense is just a cryptonerds imagination.


This sounds cool when you are the one doing all the talking, but when the border agent asks a simple question such as,

Do you have personal data on this device?

and you answer No (when you really do), then you're looking at 5 years in prison under §1001(a)(2). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Making_false_statements


You'd have to give them a reason to arrest and charge you first.


You are at the US border asking for entry, unless you're a US citizen you basically have no rights and gave them a reason to arrest you.


They don't just arrest everybody with no rights.


What if it's empty?


Then you can answer in a way that doesn't violate §1001(a). Honestly though, I don't think the scheme is smart in the first place because it can put you in trouble if authorities question you.

A much better method I have heard is to ship your electronics beforehand, travel with only a burner cellphone, then pick up the electronics after you arrive. Repeat when traveling out of the country.


But then you have a huge problem if the shipment is damaged or delayed. I think the best way is to upload encrypted data somewhere and retrieve it after entering the country.


I think this is probably correct. But I would be sure to encrypt my device before mailing it too.


> Tell the authorities that you "fill your hardisk up with random data before traveling in case of theft."

Better yet, tell them your laptop broke while in the airport before boarding the plane, and you are going to buy a new harddisk/get it serviced when you arrive at your final destination. Much more plausible.


> tell them your laptop broke while in the airport before boarding the plane, and you are going to buy a new harddisk/get it serviced when you arrive at your final destination

It's a felony to make false or deliberately misleading statements to U.S. border agents. Unless your laptop actually broke while in the airport, performing the scheme you described is a felony.


And as in the original "scheme" -- this is a question of technicalities and (perhaps only if you're a US citizen, perhaps not), whether or not the authorities in question are willing to take it to trial and prove that you "lied".

If you removed a key header which is crucial to the operation of your device in the airport, then the question is whether you can legally say, "my laptop broke in the airport," even if it was you who deliberately broke it.

This also covers the case of the question, "Does this device contain personal data?" To which you can truthfully answer, "Yes."

The point, in my original scenario also is not to lie, but to simply avoid being able to provide access under duress.


Sure, just as the scheme described in the post I was replying to. In both cases it's assumed that the lie is undetectable, by virtue of properly encrypted data being indistinguishable from random noise, and of the scheme not being shared with anyone else nor written down.


...and how would they prove that, or even suspect it in the first place?


Still you aren't telling the truth when you say that you filled the harddisk with random data. Without headers the data is random, but you have a backup. Where do you keep that? Is it somewhere in the cloud where you can download it to restore it when in the US? If they really don't trust it, and keep you for several days (I don't know if this is possible without other offenses), at what point will you break and tell just to get away? How strong are you when you're there all alone and haven't really done anything?

Why not whipe the disk and enter with a clean system if it's so critical?


I agree - basically. The scheme is designed to be a half truth essentially. One that you can mentally convince yourself of in a tight situation, which would relieve you somewhat of the need to be "tough", psychologically speaking. At least for a while, anyway.

wrt giving up the key under extended duress, I was thinking the same thing and aside from simply wiping the disk I can think of another scheme that might serve you well: give the header to a trusted 3rd party who could simply be the one actually controlling access to your data. Your lawyer for example.


If you give it to your lawyer, it's still half truth, and still you can break and call him to mail the headers to you. If this is so important, setup a server that you control with your data encrypted on it, and enter the US with a clean Ubuntu system, or even a Chromebook with a fresh account.


>3) Your machine essentially now contains random data (even to you), perhaps except the partition table and/or boot parition(s). Tell the authorities that you "fill your hardisk up with random data before traveling in case of theft."

Sounds like a sure-fire way to get them to harass you more and pay closer attention to yourself.


Yeah perhaps this is not the best hypothetical response...

I still believe there is a way to adjust such an encryption scheme to meet the ideal criteria:

1. you're not lying 2. you can't provide access 3. you're not drawing extra attention to yourself


If this is what happens, then this is not a free country. There is a border where you must stop in harassing your own citizens under the pretext of security.


Few countries (if any) are really free.


> Tell the authorities that you "fill your hardisk up with random data before traveling in case of theft."

And you just made yourself a suspicious person to be further questioned and searched, while probably committed an offense that could send you to jail.


But again - the point is not to lie, technically and thus avoid commiting an actual offense. If your data is important enough to you, you probably will want to consult your lawyer before attempting such a scheme :)


No, they can bar you from entry for any non-compliance.


> using the "I have not done illegal drugs" checkbox on the entry documentation

What? I have lived and worked all over the world, travel regularly to a bunch of countries, and have never once seen this. I could have missed it on some less frequent countries, but certainly it's not on any major country's entry card.


https://i.imgur.com/BMuAufo.jpg

"Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using or distributing illegal drugs?"

"Do you have a physical or mental disorder; or are you a drug abuser"

It's also on the customs forms for New Zealand, where you're asked along with questions about any drug paraphernalia you might be bringing in. They seem to be much more concerned about fruit than people slipping through with a bong though. Only country I've ever been set upon by fruit sniffing dogs.


I've been pulled up by the kiwi's their basic problem was me not doing drugs in their country. Similar approach was used on my buddy "I'm glad you answered yes to pot, because if you'd declined I wouldn't have believed you and pulled you in anyway".

So we were all pulled in an at that point I figured there was no reason to lie. I discussed all the drugs I'd done previously and they stated there was no way for them to prove I was (or was not) smuggling as trace amounts were found in the bag I admitted to carrying them in for previous ski trips.

I stated it was illegal in my country but had no plans to do it in theirs. I was allowed in on the condition I didn't do illegal drugs in NZ... I accepted their terms and didn't do any gear while I was there.


I was once taken into a room and questioned by US border personnel for eating a banana after passing US pre-clearance at Dublin airport.

Technically still on Irish soil but within the US customs zone, apparently, and I had thus lied on my form when I said I wasn't tranporting fruit or vegetables into the USA.


Practically you were on Irish soil. Technically you were in a foreign trade zone of the United States :P


I flew into Chicago from the UK a few months ago. A guy a few spaces behind me in the line had a search dog stop at his feet. He had some fruit in his bag. I can't remember what it was, an apple or something. They gave him a form to fill in and he had to pay a fine.

I had a banana in my bag. A very ripe one. But the bag was on my shoulder rather than on the floor by my feet so the dog just walked straight past me. There's a hack to remember.


If anyone's thinking about it - don't. mike-cardwell got lucky. Dogs at the airport sniff everything. Whether you have something in your backpack or the bag on the floor, NZ has pretty bad fines even for stupid stuff like obviously half eaten and taken by accident piece of fruit.


Yeah. I certainly wouldn't recommend doing it on purpose.


> But the bag was on my shoulder rather than on the floor by my feet so the dog just walked straight past me. There's a hack to remember.

I've been asked to take my bag off my shoulder so the dog could sniff it. I wouldn't recommend this 'hack' — seems too likely to fail.


I'm surprised any bag would ever be allowed anywhere off the ground in their presence. K-9 officers generally just call for all people to rest their bags and luggage on the floor to one side. While the dog makes it's rounds, you're also being watched for body language and behaviour.


Or... Just buy a banana from the fruit shop on the other side of the border, and don't risk a fine or ruining a country's entire fruit industry?


"ruining a country's entire fruit industry?" is overly dramatic. If this experience was anything to go by, it seems likely that fruit is constantly accidentally brought across the border. I've been to the US a few times and this is the first time a dog went anywhere near my bag, and even when one did, it didn't detect the fruit.


That'd be because, like Australia, there's a very isolated ecosystem there that could be decimated by unintentionally bringing in diseased fruit from overseas. Australia has similarly strict rules on bringing food items, etc. in because it has a similarly isolated ecosystem where some diseases prevalent elsewhere simply aren't found here, so the ecosystem isn't resistant to it.


Do not go to Australia with dirt or soil on your shoes.


Serious question: I live in Sweden and have officially diagnosed autism/adhd, so I would have to answer yes to the first question. What are the chances that I will be denied entry purely based on that answer?


Same here, there is an expanded documentation page describing this exact question (and a few others): https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/WebHelp/ESTA_Screen-Level_Onli...

Quote: ```(b) You had a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior associated with the disorder that has posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others and the behavior is likely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior. Answer "No" if: (a) You currently have no physical or mental disorders; or (b) You have or had a physical or mental disorder without associated behavior that may pose or has posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare of that of others; or (c) You currently have a physical or mental disorder with associated behavior, but that behavior has not posed, does not currently pose nor will pose a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others; or (d) You had a physical or mental disorder with associated behavior that posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others, but that behavior is unlikely to recur. ```


Excuse me, but what world do you live in that autism/adhd is a "disorder"?


"Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder"


We're pretty serious about our biosecurity here in NZ.


Nope. I've seen someone caught by a fruit (and presumably other substances, too) sniffer dog on entry to the US via Atlanta. So not just NZ...


They have the fruit sniffing dogs in the US. I've seen someone in the immigration line at O'Hare get pulled aside because they were smuggling in an apple from the flight. (No doubt there were several in the trash on the plane, which is likely emptied into the US.)

I've never seen this at JFK or LAX though.


I would imagine that such a question is standard all over the place. Almost like a canary trap? For example, life-insurance forms. They ask you those types of questions as well as questions along the lines of "have you every been denied life-insurance by any provider for any reason".


I'm pretty sure that the customs form for NZ doesn't ask anything about drugs or drug paraphernalia.

On the note of that form you linked, apparently they send the results live, a friend of mine for a joke checked "yes" to Question 3, and now her visa application is under review.


What form is that? It certainly isn't a landing card. Maybe a visa application, but the number of western country with visa free or visa on arrival is huge.


It sure says a lot that a mental condition is grouped with drug abuse and carrying a sexually transmitted disease.


  You don't get that option. The 
  first thing that happens to everybody 
  who is attempting to enter the US and 
  flagged is that they give you a form 
  to write down all keys and passwords 
  you might have, they will then unlock 
  your phone and attempt to find anything...
Actually, I have all the time in the world before my next flight, so I do get that option.

You see, even if I'm forced to write down a password, if that password decrypts a 3TB file filled with shit data that LOOKS like it's still encrypted somehow, and then throws errors on further attempts to decrypt, the goal is achieved.

I have old laptops I'm ready to throw in the garbage. I have old, dying hard drives I can partition with nonsense. If that's all I'm carrying, then border patrol can merrily spin their wheels on it, and it will never contain anything valuable, despite appearances, because it is junk and contains junk by design.

For phones? Well, if all I'm carrying is a 1990's candybar phone with a 4 digit pin, and I "unlock" it for someone, and it shows "NO SERVICE" because I never paid money to activate service on that phone, even though it's the only phone I'm carrying, the goal is achieved.

If I'm carrying a trashy 2008 edition smartphone, and I unlock the bootloader, and reflash with a custom ROM that contains 500 garbage contacts with (555) 555-5555 numbers and John Doe as the name, and then encrypt an SD card with a FAT partition that contains a single 4BG encrypted file that's really just random data, or maybe 9000 files with misleading file names, but all contain junk when decrypted, the goal is achieved.

If I jail break an old iPhone C that I bought refurbished, second-hand for $50 and then I activate it's password protection as the number 1234, but never place a SIM card in the slot, and load it with thounsands of random images from the internet, and tons of fake notes that look like Base64 data, and that's the only phone I'm carrying, the goal is achieved.

Your tangent about drugs is an unrelated digression.

Staging junk devices with garbage data, for the purpose of sacrifice to security theater, is fun, easy, and anyone can do it if they've got the next week or two to pack their bags.


You do realize you're wasting your time as well. It's not like you're allowed to get a coffee from Starbucks and visit the brothel while the agents search your things.


For some people, their time seems to be already wasted, no matter their actions.

No need to waste their expensive devices AND their time.

Retrieving confiscated devices can ruin time as well.

A device you can safely discard, in lieu of bureacratic form signing, waiting-in-line retrieval queues, is also time saved. Now they've confiscated what amounts to used toilet paper.

Did you read TFA?


Choosing to bring devices full of encrypted noise vs choosing not to being devices is deliberately choosing to waste your time in addition to the CBP officers'. Maybe that's your goal, but they get paid to do that so you aren't exactly teaching them a lesson. If anything, you are just being rude to other people who want to cross the border since you've impacted the throughput.

It's sort of like "teaching the cops a lesson" by loitering around the local school in an ice cream truck implying something might happen.


Well, gee whiz. Don't I feel terrible now.

Like, wow man. It really makes you think.

It makes me think about illegal search and seizure, and how I guess that only matters for special people. It makes me think that, hey, maybe some inalienable rights are actually kind of alienable, depending on who you decide to alienate, right?

They get paid money to do their jobs. Well wowee! That means they're correct in fucking people up arbitrarily right?

Special person on a blacklist? Fuck 'em up! Don't like the looks of those guys? Fuck 'em up! Hate your job and need to take it out on somebody? Fuck 'em up!

Sure, I get that. But where does the black list come from? Can I vote on who gets listed?

You know, I got some people I'd like to fuck up, myself. Would that be okay?

What if I decide to hire someone to fuck someone else up for me? I got some money to pay them. At that point, they'd be doing their job.

Hmmm. Maybe I should pick a career that let's me fuck people up, just so's I can help write those lists. It'd be my job, after all.


Let's just humor the idea that, if they've got a job to do, they're obedient about it. Let's say, in this instance, the person harassed really is a piece of shit on a list for a good reason. Let's say that leaning on this guy and sending him a message was a good idea, for reasons I can never know about, but trust in that.

Okay, fine. He was the right bad guy to knock down a peg, so send a message. Sent him a message and he got it. Mission accomplished.

The point still remains: hobbling technical carry-ons like the laptop he has, and cloning handhelds to scrape for metadata intel is still a pathetic strategy which would only slow down a half-retarded script kiddie. It's a weak tactic that isn't going to offer real protection at any border, because that's not how smart people with technical skills approach a border.

If that's anyone's idea for how to interdict hacker operations and learn the details of their network, guess what. Consumer grade computers are likely a mere distraction in this scenario, and it's unlikely that a border agent is going to notice a device or technical object intended to survive a border search.

It's not likely that grabbing these sorts of devices stops the people that care about getting certain devices and data across.

Maybe raising the bar and taking ordinary laptops and handhelds off the table to advertise that it's not childsplay to bring general technology across a border might be another message to send non-professional trouble makers and problem children, such as in this case. Either way, to be honest, I think border patrol is out of their element and beyond their depth in this sphere.

Being a hammer, and approaching all border stops as nails, is a strategy for a century ago, when a pipe with a handle was surely a musket.


What if you don't hand over the password?


You apparently lose your phone, and you can be sure they will copy any content on it, even if it's decrypted. If you enter, change your PIN to something alphanumeric, especially when you're on Android. Just a number is easy to beat, even if it's 10 digits long. I think the latest iphones are safe enough. I don't know about Windows Phone, but don't think it's safer than Android.


> I think the latest iphones are safe enough.

Not sure about that. After Apple refused to help, the FBI claims to have hacked that iPhone anyway, with a tool developed outside the government.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/27/fbi-apple...


It was an iPhone 5c. No Secure Enclave.


BTW, what was the result of that? They paid hackers a ton of money to unlock old firmware, iOS 8.0, on an old phone, 5C.


Yeah, but that's an iPhone 5C, which is three generations old.


This was also a phone from a terrorist.


> This was also a phone from a terrorist.

I think the downvoted parent is relevant in that they mightn't make the effort for a 'normal' person.


> I don't know about Windows Phone, but don't think it's safer than Android.

Windows Phone user here. I know for a fact the SD card you put in your phone is encrypted and can only be decrypted in the phone itself[1]. I don't know for sure about the internal storage; it's supposed to be encrypted if you use a screen lock on your device but I have no easy way to test that. Regardless, if they can force you to reveal your pin/password you're hosed anyway.

[1] "Can't be decrypted" assumes, of course, that the government wanting to decrypt it doesn't have an agreement with Microsoft to hand over the private key or otherwise provide access. My understanding is that Microsoft's position lately has been "no warrant, no access" but that could just be lip service. In either case, Windows Phone is a dying platform and anyone security conscious enough to worry about border crossings would hopefully have something more inherently secure anyway.


Windows Phones use the Secure part of the Secure Digital(SD) standard. Very few other platforms use it.


That's my understanding, yes. And I've had to deal with it first hand when I forgot I had used a certain SD card in a Windows phone and then tried to access its data in another device. I had to pull that old phone out of storage to access, then wipe and unlock the card. It's a great feature that I wish other phone manufacturers would adopt.


Windows Phone/Mobile user here. SD card content is not encrypted. Encryption for SD cards is coming in the Windows 10 Creators Update and just dropped in the dev builds[1].

[1] https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2017/01/12/annou...


It's been a feature since the WP7 days, and as I stated in another comment, it's obviously still in practice because I've had to decrypt a card using the Windows Phone 8.1 (upgraded to 10) device that originally encrypted it.

http://www.ghacks.net/2010/11/13/windows-phone-locks-in-micr...

http://www.card-data-recovery.com/unlock-windows-phone-7-car...


Maybe this was an WP7 feature which still had backwards compatibility.

My personal knowledge starts with 8.1. At least since 8.1 - so practically any relevant phone sold or in use today - the SD card has a hidden encrypted partition which holds apps moved to the card and a public partition for user data (photos, downloads, audio, video etc). This public partition with userdata is not encrypted and can be read at any device.

In the coming W10M update it's possible to encrypt the whole card again, so e.g. photos are protected.


You know what...the same card has migrated with me from WP7 to 8.0 to that 8.0 device being upgraded to 8.1 then 10. Still, I had to put it back in that last device to get it unlocked for use on my current phone (Lumia 650). Otherwise the phone refused to recognize it, wanting to immediately format it, and ditto my Windows 10 and Linux desktops. On Linux at least, it did show two separate encrypted partitions, so given what you said that makes sense.


There's a device for unlocking I-phones. I saw it in action a few times at work: The I-phone is placed horizontally into a cradle, 40 cm above the screen there's some kind of a device. That device produces flash flights, a couple times per second and I suspect it takes pictures. If I remember correctly there's nothing touching the buttons. The officer said that it can crack I-phone 6 (7 was not out when I asked it). What I suspect is that it uses brute force and avoids the delaying system. Since I work in a low tech environment, I was surprised to see that thing in action.


What does a ban from ESTA actually mean?

I know that one can be ineligible for an ESTA. For example, if you've made a trip to Iran. However even if ineligible for an ESTA, a person can still go to a US embassy and apply for a regular visa, just like folks in non-ESTA countries.


It means, at the very minimum, a massive pain in the ass. Quite likely you will have significant difficulty gaining a visa.


OK. Seems the salient point is that once you've been denied entry once, returning in future becomes more challenging.

That'll be the case regardless of whether you've been eligible for ESTAs or had to obtain visas via embassies in the past.

The "banned from ESTA" phrasing had me scratching my head.


What if I make sure my phone has 0% battery when crossing the border?

Will they wait for it to charge, and THEN inspect it anyway? Or do they let you through.


My impression is that, in the US, you must be able to turn on electronics, or you will not get the chance to charge them, they will be disposed of.


As always with these things, the answer probably is going to be "depends".

also, what kind of phone can't be immediately powered up when connected to a charger?


> also, what kind of phone can't be immediately powered up when connected to a charger?

If sufficiently discharged, an iPhone requires about ten to fifteen minutes on a charger to power on. This is true of all models, going back to the original release.


My question is really aimed at "will they bother to plug it in and wait", or would they just skip it.


My android [Acer E380] sometimes can't start without a few minutes on the charger, the battery is dying after the designed in service period.


Moto G2, takes about five minutes to go from 0% to 1% and does not turn on until then.


iPhone, takes a few minutes to power it once it's dead.


My iPhone (5S) can't.


They will probably make you throw it away. I temporarily lost the battery to my euro mobile. I got an SSSS on my boarding pass and they made me show all of the electronics working. Luckily I found the battery and it had a charge on it.


Or if you have a removable battery (like OP did) just leave the battery at home and buy a new one when you land.


I'd love to see this take off. Not sure I'm willing to sacrifice my own time with it but, the 'kids' would have a good laugh with it.


"Encrypt them with spacefiller data and start crossing borders, and then refuse to provide passwords and abandon them for sheer amusement."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zip_bomb


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