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Author of cURL denied entry to the USA (twitter.com/bagder)
684 points by chx on June 27, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 320 comments

This may be unpopular on an US-centric site like HN, but the US looks more and more like they want to isolate themselves from the rest of the world: very strict immigration policy, travelers molested by TSA on airports, ...

These conferences where people around the world meet should start to be hosted somewhere else. Not in the USA anymore. Somewhere in a country that welcomes people instead of treating all of them like possible threats.

Just organize All Hands in Berlin next year. Or Barcelona, or Munich, or Stockholm, or Amsterdam, or whatever. Just not the US anymore. Americans don't want foreigners on their soil. Or at least everything looks that way from the outside. Let them be that way.

As someone who just filled out their DS-160 visa application and paid money for the application and now being left alone due to the new "travel ban" (wife and mother in law Iranian) I just say: let this country be alone for a while. I don't know when the US government (and the voters) will gain back consciousness and be part of the international community again in a positive way. Other countries are much more open right now: Germany, France, Canada... and they even all have working Internet! And there is even no strong need to reside in the US to do online business there, as the big platforms (Appstores...) are open for most other countries.

I say those words as probably the biggest USA-fanboy one could imagine, the guy who defended almost any obscure US policy. But right now, I can not do this any more. I can live with the liberals, I can live with the conservatives, but I can not live with aggressive political stupidness.

Were at least stuck with this stupidity for 4 years. A financial crash is probably due in that time.

Yep, even Rightscon (human rights and tech conference) has shifted to Canada next year, instead of it's usual rotation to San Francisco...Basically because a huge chunk of participants probably wouldn't be allowed into the US.

As someone one who was born out of the US but has lived here for nearly all my life - it's all crazy. Although it may be unpopular, the government is starting to quietly and systematically turn against the majority voters. It's terrifying.

> let this country be alone for a while

Please don't leave us alone with these people. We in the US need you more than ever.

Despite the situation being uncomfortable, we really wanted to... but US government just will not let us. I am already exempt of ESTA and need a regular visa because I travel to Iran now and then. For all my 35 years of life, I wanted to become live in the US, and now that I could afford it, it is made impossible by the government (even when my wife has a German passport in a year, we could only do it if we accepted that maybe no persian family member can visit us.

Fellow Canadian welcomes you here, more of you guy please! :)

We'll start to come around once our economy tanks because all the smart people are getting banned from entering...

The US has generally been quite isolationist.

Both before WW1 and before WW2 there were really strong isolationist currents in US politics. I think that it's part of the "Chine syndrome": they're big, kind of isolated and mostly self-sufficient (or perceive themselves to be so).

People seem to have forgotten that the US opening during and after WW2 turned the US into the world's #1 super power. I guess it's hard to look farther ahead when you have pressing issues straight in front of you (immigrants "stealing jobs" and such).


> as a job-stealing immigrant, I now have 36 jobs and counting. I keep them in my basement like some kind of job dragon. what you gonna do

While it is true US foreign policy favored isolationism pre-WWII, calling current restrictions on immigration into the US "isolationist" is a conflation of the term. The US maintains a global military presence and there is no evidence this will change until another state actor (or a coalition of state actors) forcibly shrinks the US global footprint. In George Friedman's book, "The Next 100 Years" the central theme to current US foreign policy is that, as a global super power, the US will actively seek to destabilize regions of the world that threaten its interests now and in the future. That simple guideline can help to understand the lionshare of American foreign policy decisions post WWII and is of course, not an isolationist policy whatsoever.

Edit: spelling of Friedman

>The US has generally been quite isolationist.

Complete propaganda, the US tried to avoid European wars while profiting off them as much as possible. During this, they conquered huge areas of Native American, Mexican, Asian, and South American lands.

The US has intervened in geopolitics time after time, and US companies own an especially high percent of world-wide wealth. It's hard to argue we're actually isolationist.

> This may be unpopular on an US-centric site like HN, but the US looks more and more like they want to isolate themselves from the rest of the world: very strict immigration policy, travelers molested by TSA on airports, ...

Almost all Americans think this sort of thing is nonsense. But the average American has little standing to hold the American bureaucracy accountable for its nonsense.

Americans, especially outside overcrowded urban areas, are courteous, helpful, hospitable people that are very tolerant of other people and ideas.

> Almost all Americans think this sort of thing is nonsense. But the average American has little standing to hold the American bureaucracy accountable for its nonsense.

Sorry but they don't get off that easy when almost half of them voted Trump into office.

> Americans, especially outside overcrowded urban areas, are courteous, helpful, hospitable people that are very tolerant of other people and ideas.

I've found quite the opposite, out in the boonies you're more likely to get harassed when you're not the "right" color or religion. I've had some really nice, helpful people turn nasty as soon as I mentioned my atheism, for example.

You can't blame this on Trump alone.

8 years of Obama gave increased spying, kept the insane TSA, blocked people born in Iran from entering the country (independent of what nationality they currently have). Gave the ESTA Visa Waiver program, where you have to pay for getting exactly no rights what-so-ever. And as final insult, you are allowed to list the social media you use.

I'll agree with all that. I think the average American knows all that stuff is dumb as well, and that is part of what I'm saying.

The American voter, individually and in aggregate, has lost much say in American bureaucracy. I don't blame Trump alone in this. Bush thought Homeland Security was a good idea. But Trump thinks the problem with American government is that he hasn't been running it. We'll see that that is a foolish take on things soon. Obama made the same mistake and had the same revelation eventually, hence all the executive orders and phone calls in his later presidency instead of laws and reforms and such.

Half didn't vote for Trump. Look again at the turnout rates. Also keep in mind that most "Trump voters" voted against Clinton more than they voted for Trump. I think that is kind of silly but that's the thought process of the Trump voters I talk to.

I can't comment about your personal experiences in small town America other than to say that my experience is very different and that referring to areas epithetically (1) undermines your point. America is a very broad and diverse place, though, so there are idiots and bigots in places. But I would just like to point out that kind and welcoming people are easy to find. They don't make headlines. And good impressions don't last as long as bad ones, I guess.

(1) Boonies or boondocks implies a judgemental attitude that people are backwards or unsophisticated. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boondocks

> [...] most "Trump voters" voted against Clinton more than they voted for Trump.

That is not a valid argument by any possible mean. Everybody has the right to vote whatever they want of course, but saying what you said is like saying "people eat meat to piss off vegans more than because they like it". And regardless, the driving motive of something doesn't change the end result of such something.

People need to take responsibility for their actions. They voted for Trump and their is the fault of the current state of things. Period. The reasons behind why they did it don't matter and, frankly, it's also nobody's business.

> That is not a valid argument by any possible mean.

Now try convincing someone. That is what I tried to do throughout the entire election, but the propaganda machine is treated as fact by many here.

These people get hung up on the idea that we can never leave the two party system, meaning no third party candidate will ever get elected.

Here in Utah, we did manage to give McMullin 20% of the vote, but that was still marginally less than Hillary (after salt lake county) or Trump.

> saying what you said is like saying "people eat meat to piss off vegans more than because they like it"

Or... it's nothing like that?

I mean, I get the impression that some portion of people did vote for Trump to piss people off, but that's not what the parent was talking about. Saying that they "voted against Clinton more than they voted for Trump" means they cast a vote to avoid what they saw as the worse outcome.

Americans as individuals are generally quite friendly, regardless of city.

Let me ask you a loaded question though: Are you white?

I am, and have had only good experiences both in NYC, LA, SF as well as a bunch of small towns.

If you are not white, or dress differently, or are transgender, I can guarantee you which of a small town or a big city would be more embracing. (On aggregate, there are of course outliers on both sides)

> Half didn't vote for Trump. Look again at the turnout rates.

You cannot claim that people who didn't vote don't support Trump (or vice versa, don't support Hillary). There simply isn't any data to support this.

> Also keep in mind that most "Trump voters" voted against Clinton more than they voted for Trump.

Citation needed.

I voted for a third party candidate. I know many who voted down ticket and left the presidential ballot blank. And it doesn't make sense, but I can understand why someone would feel like not voting at all out of disgust.

I suspect I'm not alone in wishing you had cast your vote in a way that mattered. Hopefully in hindsight it's clear no one "listened" to your deep moral convictions (or whatever) that led you to vote for that third party or to led your friends to vote blank top of ballot entries.

You simply fell prey to a focused disinformation campaign that actively tried to prevent intelligent voters from voting and that worked, probably well enough to influence the outcome of the election. That's a hard pill to swallow and you'll probably tell me and yourself that of course that's not what happened, but it wasn't an accident you felt that way. The Russians are very, very good at disinformation and always have been.

You're smart enough to accumulate huge karma here on HN so I'm sure you're smart enough to figure out how voting works. Hopefully you'll manage to fight the confirmation bias you'll likely look for to justify your past actions and be able to make your future actions matter. A great many people wish they had your vote. Please make it count.

This logic doesn't really work out...it seems to also hold that everyone who voted for HRC also voted in a way that didn't matter, so they might as well have just stayed home (the outcome would be no different).

Also, it really reads as just a not-very-thinly-veiled accusation that people who do not vote for the candidate that you want to win are stupid and/or naive. I don't think there's anything wrong with saying that, necessarily, but you might as well just say it. I disagree with both the rhetoric and the conclusion entirely, but your opinion is what it is.

Personally, I think this kind of thinking leads to the negative outcomes that pervade our political system. Even if third parties have no chance of winning, the idea that they might not be able to bank on the votes of people scared of the "wrong lizard" might force them to moderate their political stands.

The election had two candidates that together received just shy of 100% of the vote and that split that vote very nearly 50/50. The rest of the names on the ballot were spoilers, not candidates. That outcome was not a surprise and no one seriously expected anyone other than those two candidates to win or have any other impact than spoiling the vote of one or both of the winners. Which of thse two candidates would win was not known until the election, because polling is difficult and presidential races in the US tend to be close, so the voting was necessary and no votes for either serious candidate were wasted. All of that is true for every US presidential election in recent memory.

And just like in every previous election, no one "listened" to the voters who voted for the spoiler candidates. No one said "if HRC or DT had just done x they would have gotten more of the Green Party or Libertarian voters." People who vote for spoiler candidates self select themselves into a group where they guarantee the winning and losing major parties don't care at all what they think. Voting for a spoiler candidate means the major candidates don't have to care what you think, and they don't, so you end up with even less influence than if you had voted for one or the other of the potential winners.

Before you get lecturey, maybe make sure parent was voting in a place where casting a different vote had a chance of directly mattering?

My third party vote in CA arguably has a bigger effect than a major party vote in CA, for the presidency in the general election.

Most parts of the US are close enough that a "major victory" or a "guaranteed outcome" is measured at the level of a few percentage points. Even in the hopelessly gerrymandered house elections coming up in 2018 there may be as many as 70 seats in play, precisely because even a "safe" seat is only safe by a comparatively small percentage margin.

Geographically, "most parts of the US" are fairly close. If you live in one of those parts, vote accordingly.

By population, that's substantially less true - nothing I do in the ballot box is going to make a dent in a 60-40 split in CA, and quite a few will have to think just like me before it does. If you're in one of those parts, vote accordingly.

> Citation needed.

I assume, like me, OP was there. We tried to talk sense into voters, but this was the biggest concern for most of them. Here in the US, we have been stuck in a two party system for decades simply because of this (flawed) logic.

Most Americans won't change their behavior to effect a greater change unless they are sure that greater change will be happen because of their relatively insignificant effort. This is why we struggle so much with climate change, the two party system, monopolies, etc.

> You cannot claim that people who didn't vote don't support Trump

Irrelevant. What is relevant is that you can't claim that people that didn't vote at all aactually voted for Trump, which is necessary to support the upthread claim that nearly half of Americans voted for Trump. Less than 1/5 of Americans, and less than 1/3 of registered voters, voted for Trump.

Agreed, I grew up in the midwest and I now live in NYC, and New Yorkers are far, far nicer than midwesterners. The intolerance in the red parts of the US is suffocating.

> Sorry but they don't get off that easy when almost half of them voted Trump into office.

Nowhere near half of Americans voted Trump into office. (Now, if you want to criticize a very large share of eligible voters for abstaining, that's valid, but abstaining isn't the same as voting for Trump.)

In the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, roughly 63 million votes, of a population of 325 million, were cast for #45.

That is 19% of the total population. Reliable sources inform me that this may in fact be significantly less than half of all Americans.

The notion of the nutcase fringe in politics has been around for a while -- there's about 20% of the vote you've got to be very aware of. Where other voters are insufficiently motivated, or actively discouraged by various means (voter suppression efforts, media, uninspiring candidates), the fringe can win.

That said, there's a range of types throughout the country, and a worrying fraction are worrying. Or worse.

The percentage of eligible voters (not total population) who selected Trump is somewhere around 26/27%, but more importantly, in a democracy, not voting is also a decision one needs to take responsibility for.

> in a democracy, not voting is also a decision one needs to take responsibility for.

Yes, but it's a different decision than voting for candidate X. Facts matter in criticism.

Are you actually putting newborn children in the mix to pretend that only 19% of Americans wanted Trump there?

Since newborn children are Americans, they were in the mix from the time the claim was made that nearly half of Americans voted Trump into office. Setting the correct universe of comparison is the responsibility of the person making the claim.

Of course, even if you mean "Americans eligible to vote" or the slightly smaller number of "Americans registered to vote", the claim still isn't even approximately true.

You didn't answer their question.

While it may feel cathartic to blame Trump for this, unfortunately the situation is much worse than that. The article is about an ESTA denial. ESTA was put in place during the Bush administration (July 2007), and random ESTA denials happened all the time during the Obama administration. Not much has changed on this front since Trump took office, as far as I can tell.

I'm not sure exactly how we're getting away with having this ESTA thing at all for countries that are supposedly part of the Visa Waiver program, without them retaliating in kind. I only hope that we'll come to our senses and stop before they do so. But given that ESTA has now existed for 10 years and both parties seem to support it, I have low hopes of it going away.

ESTA replaced the previous I-94W form; in fact most of the questions are the same. You could also be denied entry before ESTA was introduced.

The best rendition of the text on the I-94W form is undoubtedly Frank Zappa and the Ensemble Modern's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPPDrXHjJx8

> Sorry but they don't get off that easy when almost half of them voted Trump into office.

Not to rehash the past, but I thought we had gotten it clear by now: voting for the guy does not indicate support. Americans vote for the candidate they fear and despise the least.

Voting is literally one of the two types of support that actually counts, far more than for-or-against posts on the internet. The other one would be giving money.

If you voted for Trump, you supported Trump. It's OK to change your mind, but people need to own and take responsibility for what they do at the ballot box.

And people wonder why voter participation is so low...

> Americans vote for the [Republican or Democratic] candidate they fear and despise the least.

That's exactly the flawed logic that is keeping us in this two party system. If we just vote for the candidate we support, neither Trump not Hillary would stand a chance.

The trouble with convincing people to actually do that is that most Americans feel the need to be on the winning side. "My vote is worthless unless it's for someone who can actually win."

That's fundamentally not the "logic that is keeping us in this two party system". That logic is the logic of understanding our current electoral system. The US electoral system as it currently stands will inevitably result in a two-party system. Sure you can change which two parties it is, that's happened several times, but without changing First Past The Post you're not going to get any other system.

> Americans, especially outside overcrowded urban areas, are courteous, helpful, hospitable people that are very tolerant of other people and ideas.

Do you care to elaborate on this? That's incongruent with voting records.

I don't mind elaborating. I need to know which parts of the American voting record concerns you to be specific though.

I will say that America is very diverse. Various states and postal codes have wildly different attitudes about things and very few Americans want to change or homogenize that.

For instance: I know that Texas is a red state but was quite surprised to find out that the largest urban centres are actually blue. And it seems that this trend follows all along the country, large urbanised areas are blue (even in red states) while the countryside votes more for the GOP, meaning a more conservative worldview (and that clashes with the statement "courteous, helpful, hospitable people that are very tolerant of other people and ideas".

I understand that people from the countryside can be seen as kinder towards people they like but my impression is that hatred and prejudice is much more prevalent there... So care to elaborate if my impression is wrong?

> I understand that people from the countryside can be seen as kinder towards people they like but my impression is that hatred and prejudice is much more prevalent there...

That's not my experience at all. I dealt with more overt racism in NYC than any tiny red state town, and I've spent plenty of time in both. There are racist people everywhere, but even in rural areas, they tend to be ignorant and antisocial so they are not really in any position to oppress anyone.

People tend to mistake talking heads on TV for actual people. People also tend to mistake voting patterns for personal quality of character. There's a caricature on TV (a bigoted one IMO) that small towns are full of shirtless racist rednecks that throw beer cans at all minorities that wander in town. That's because it's a useful trope and an easy way to advance a narrative. Every all town church I'm aware of sends missionaries overseas to build schools, wells, etc. That doesn't mesh with the "we hate foreigners" narrative. I had dinner in a tiny red state town last week. The most popular place in town is run by Mexican immigrants. And it's thriving. Life is more complicated than most media lets on.

Even if we narrowed everything down to political views, the traditional red state view is that diversity in government (federalism) provides better prosperity, diversity, justice, freedom, and so on. Most red state types are fine leaving Colorado with its marijuana and Nevada with its brothels. They value the ability to self determine more than they value the ability to control other people.

The GOP continues to be impregnated with racism thanks to the southern strategy.[0] If you don't think out in the open racist culture is alive, well and considered normal in the rural south, you are fooling yourself.


I think there are overt racists, but they are in a minority and certainly not exclusive to any political party.

Though this is a hard conversation to have meaningfully since different people mean different things by racism. The context here is a Northern European visiting the U.S. I think it would be a bit of a stretch to say they'll have a hard time in the rural south. I'd say (accented) rural Southerners would have a harder time in NYC than Scandanavian visitors would have in Mobile.

Accented rural southerners would have no trouble whatsoever in NYC. This is one of those analogies that sounds like it should be true, but has no basis in fact.

It's also a super weird comparison. Southern intolerance is subtextually about animus towards African Americans and Latinos. Nobody is arguing that a Scandinavian would have any trouble in Mobile.

Further: Mobile is a weird choice for a comparison as well, since it's comparatively urban and well-educated. Mobile is more diverse than many parts of Chicago. When we talk about Southern racism, we're generally not talking about the urban south.

Finally, and I want to make this point gingerly, but if we want to drag US political parties into this discussion, the Republican party is almost mathematically determined to be more racist than the Democratic party, which is a coalition of labor, minorities, and liberal whites. It's also just empirically true that the Republican party harbors more overt racists, but we don't have to dive into a lot of value judgements about conservatism and nationalism to conclude that; we can just observe that the Democrats have African American and Latino voters as one of the foundations of their constituency.

>almost mathematically determined to be more racist than the Democratic party, which is a coalition of labor, minorities, and liberal whites

The assumption you build this on is that those groups are not more racist than the groups in the Republican party. The only way you could even make that kind of jump is if you subscribe to the definition of racism where you can't be racist if you are systematically oppressed in some regard. Is that the case?

If not, then you will definitely need some data showing that blue collar workers, minorities, etc have lower rates of racism.

The vast majority of racism I hear (assuming the definition based on race discrimination) comes from uneducated people, regardless of political affiliation.

I'm making a pretty simple demographic point and not really interested in hacking my way through this briar patch of value judgements and careful parsing. Substitute whatever term you like --- maybe "anti-black anti-Latino racism" --- for the simple one I used.

Ok. That's still not backed up by sound reasoning though. Just because one party has more white people does not correlate with anti-Latino racism. Why would you think that's the case?

Living in the bay area, I've encountered more anti-black racism from Chinese people than any white people. Should I take that to presume whichever party has more asians is automatically racist against black people?

Just because a party has more people of a specific skin color than another says nothing about racist behavior. Anything else would imply that the Bernie Sanders crowd is the most racist group of them all (skews very heavily white).

This is pretty silly. Less than 30% of Latinos and less than 5% of African Americans are Republicans. The balance are Democrats. The Democratic party simply can't be institutionally bigoted against those groups and survive as a party; those groups are core parts of the Democratic coalition; the Democrats in a real way simply are the Latino and African American vote.

That's all I'm saying. I am not psychoanalyzing Republicans in general. Most Republicans probably aren't racist. That's not my point.

I'm really not interested in what you think Chinese Americans think, sorry.

>The Democratic party simply can't be institutionally bigoted against those groups and survive as a party; those groups are core parts of the Democratic coalition; the Democrats in a real way simply are the Latino and African American vote.

Of course it can be bigoted. Those minorities do not make up a majority of the party and as long as they feel the goals of the party overall help them more than Republicans they will put up with whatever racist crap that comes from Democrats (e.g. "tell em you're a Muslim" Pelosi).

It's all about tradeoffs, a party that offers racist policies in your favor and/or the refusal to enforce laws that affect many of your people is better than a party with no favors offered, even if the former is filled with bigoted morons.

>I'm really not interested in what you think Chinese Americans think

And I never offered you what I thought they think, so go attack some other strawman to attempt to gain some moral high ground.

I have a southern accent, have visited NYC, currently live in Chicago. People in both cities are just as friendly as people anywhere else. What you're saying simply isn't true.

People in rural areas seem to think of "city people" as brash, always in a hurry, always on their cell phones, etc. whereas they themselves are courteous, friendly, would give you the shirt off their back, etc. I grew up in a small town in the south and heard this sort of thing a lot, but it's bullshit. It's just one parochial stereotype among many.

The Republican party contains more overt racists than the Democratic party, but the formulation in your comment is tendentious and hugely oversimplifies the situation.

I wasn't aware of the formulation in my comment when I made it. I was trying to rebut a comment that I felt had a little bit of denial running through it. I am clumsy with words though.

What about the red states bordering Colorado suing to try to get federal courts to nullify its legalization?

was quite surprised to find out that the largest urban centres are actually blue.

Looking at maps like these:



is always useful to remind yourself that there are still plenty of 'red' pockets in deeply 'blue' states and vice versa. In 2016 presidential election I believe there where only two states where all counties went Republican and two states where all went Democratic.

> Almost all Americans think this sort of thing is nonsense. But the average American has little standing to hold the American bureaucracy accountable for its nonsense.

True. But you can not organise conferences in the USA. You can tell your employers that holding meetings in the USA is bad. etc.

This is very true in my experience. Unfortunately, knowing that doesn't help when you want to go to a conference but see the plane taking off without you instead.

(For the record: I never had any problems whatsoever both using ESTA and a visa. However, the process feels significantly more hostile and unwelcoming compared to other countries.)

This was my experience as well back when I traveled to the US. It was quite surprising.

Nice and Cannes, France are great places for conferences. We'll gladly have you guys over here :)

I'd rather go to Bordeaux, Montpellier or Rennes to attend a conference :)

Those are great choices as well.

Rennes is kind of a pain to get to, when coming from abroad, but the town and the people there rock !

Isn't there a direct TGV from Paris?

I can understand some level of isolationism, but hell this is shooting yourself in the foot with a machine gun. USA used to be the place people dreamed to go, now it's the place they'll avoid thinking about. If they think they can do everything alone, then good luck. Often history happened at crossroads, not dead ends.

I propose the Bahamas as the new location to do meetups, it's close to the US, has casinos, good conference rooms, it's a tax haven, AND the Hearthstone's World Championship will be done there. Blizzard must have chosen that location for a reason.. Other than that, sad for Daniel. This is madness =(

How do you get there? USA requires visa even for transfers, and most flights to the Bahamas originate or stop over in the USA, bringing the issue back to square 1.

There are flights via Toronto, for example

Yup, that solves some of the issue to an extent. But again, Europe-Canada is often served by a transfer or stop in the USA, hitting the same UX-funnel. Also, it's a longer (and likely more expensive) trip.

I believe Visa issues have been a huge problem in the past for esport events. So it makes sense for Blizzard to go there yes.

Politically, this might be a good idea.

Pragmatically, this has problems of its own. Most sufficiently large tech companies have a number of employees at any given time who may legally reside and work in the US, but cannot legally leave it and return. This is a common stage in the H1B -> Green Card transition process.

And it is acceptable to turn inoccents into a country's prisoners? This is also sick.

Which website is NOT US-centric? The whole internet is US centric like Reddit, stackoverflow, quora, XDA, 4chan. All the major sites are based in US.

Honestly, which are the non US-centric sites in English language?

Anything from Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, a decent chunk of content from mainland Europe (where English is a very common second language, and is used extensively as a common language when dealing with those in other countries)..

Yes. Name some with comparable global reach.

BBC News

The Guardian

And much as I hate to say it: The Mail online

But what viewpoint is the Mail representing?

The Daily Mail seems almost entirely Daily Mail centric, reflecting nothing more than it's own bubble of reactionary bile and oxymoronic smug self-loathing.

That's really too kind to it. "Don't lets facts get in the way of whipping up hatred and getting a few more clicks" may be its motto...

Mail Online is hatred-centric, but is definitely English. Much to our shame.

Most English websites I visit are Canadian. I'm not on social media but I can argue that most content for that is regional as well.

I can confirm this is actually happening. I occasionally attend somewhat narrow mini-conferences that used to be held in California, NYC etc. Just in the last 6 months none of those will be held in the US anymore since almost nobody from outside the US wants to travel to the US. And these people come from countries that are not on any list of dodgy countries.

I would assume that for larger conferences the tendency won't be as strong, but it'll definitively be noticable.

I also see this when doing business; when interacting with companies where face to face interaction is needed there is a tendency to avoid business that requires travel to the US. Either they come here or we find partners outside the US. I know of several concrete business deals that have been made with non-US companies for precisely this reason.

It is tempting to think that this might end when the current administration ends, but it may not. The reason is that the last 6 months have demonstrated how volatile the policies can be in the US and how easily and quickly things can change for the worse. This affects long term planning. You don't want to make long term commitments when you have no faith in there being a moderating force to smooth out the more extreme forces acting on policy.

>This may be unpopular on an US-centric site like HN, but the US looks more and more like they want to isolate themselves from the rest of the world: very strict immigration policy, travelers molested by TSA on airports, ...

On the other hand if you have[1] the "good life", you might want to legitimately reduce access to it to those outside[2], especially if you view the outside world as some kind of second rate wasteland (or rich but weirdo culturally, e.g. EU/Japan) that just comes to grab a piece of the pie [3].

With its large internal market, the US was never much for foreign tourism, its average population never cared much for world affairs (except from intervening where their interests are and hating the "target du jour"), and it was never that open to cultural imports (foreign movies, foreign music, foreign books, etc) with the exception of British music, anime, temporary fads (like Caribbean music), and whatever immigrants brought themselves (e.g. national cuisines that got bastadized).

[1] or you think you have -- since in reality they are lagging in several aspects, from education to infant mortality, and the middle class is pressed too much, and let's not get started with guns, police violence, etc.

[2] Whether current Americans are themselves immigrants or children of immigrants doesn't matter much. It's not illogical or hypocritical to want to stop others from getting to where you've gone -- it's just selfish/self-serving.

[3] It's also not illogical to not believe that much in the "pie analogy is wrong because the economy-pie can grow" argument, because they (the US middle/working class) don't see it much happening in actual practice.

The anti immigrant voter in the US doesn't have a good life or amazing career prospects. Or at least that voter is concerned about Americans in that situation. Concern over importing more unskilled labor is at least superficially valid, in my opinion. This plays into your third point.

Montreal and the rest of Canada would love to have you as well!

I like the specificity of this comment ;)

I've also been thinking that the world needs to begin banning American software.

We already know that the totalitarian government that it's becoming is a threat to the privacy and rights of people worldwide. Avoid censorship and surveillance. Look for and build alternatives.

Nothing better to change deep rooted policy rot than economics?

That could be against WTO (or some other trade organization) rules and could lead to sanctions. WTO has been one of the main tools to project US interest across the world. Basically saying, "You want access to the world market? You will have to open your markets to us and accept IP rules that are beyond the control of your local government."

US Conferences should be done in Mexico instead ;-). Maybe a beach like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. Or a big city like Mexico City, Guadalajara or Monterrey.

You have data on the refusal rate for Germany? It might be worse than the US (immigration wise). [bold] I'm not saying it is, but without data we can't really know the truth[\bold]

For all the hate that the US is getting, it is still by far one of the largest countries that accept foreigners from all over the world to move in the social ladder and build wealth.

The lottery program alone accepts 45 thousand every year. You can get your mother/son into the US if you are a US citizen. I know many people who moved their entire families to the US this way. Sure the process was a hassle (a multi-year hassle) but it enabled them to access the US infrastructure.

A small percentage of Americans wants to do this. Most Americans are indifferent (as in most countries), but the reactionary party has won the day, and a total lunatic is in the White House. Sadly. But this too shall pass.

Not that I disagree with your conclusion: I hope conference organizers (and other groups) do start focusing abroad. The only thing that the GOP reliably responds to is the interests of money. Start moving the tech industry abroad, and see how quickly they change course.

I wouldn't call new and capricious changes to immigration policy as right wing or reactionary. It's populist and probably xenophobic but it doesn't really fit on the American ideological spectrum like that.

Trump isn't representative of the bulk of the GOP, in other words. When he's gone, you won't see this sort of thing re-emerge. As weird as it sounds to some, Trump won mostly because he was not Clinton, not because there's some ideology being advocated here (modulo Supreme Court justices).

> Trump won mostly because he was not Clinton, not because there's some ideology being advocated here (modulo Supreme Court justices).

1) That doesn't explain him beating out ~12 other seasoned GOPers in the primaries.

2) His platform.

3) Clinton was portrayed as toxic by attacks, not because she was. "But her emails" was something GOPers and DNCers had done for decades before and Trump staff continues to do today. It's not right, but it's not isolated and there are much worse things going on. It's not an excuse, but it was a distraction.

Trump capitalized on a rare opportunity, a huge number of bland establishment candidates who divided support from the moderates. Trump embraced and galvanized the RWNJ faction who were (often rightly) disenfranchised by the moderates, meanwhile the moderates could never sort out which milquetoast candidate to back. That won him the nomination.

Then Clinton, a terrible candidate who may have been the only person who could have lost to Trump made a bunch of errors allowing Trump's campaign to flip those rust-belt states. The DNC owns some of the blame here for their long term strategy in those states (or lack of). The RNC also are reaping the fruits of having spent years whipping up the loonies in their party.

1) Trump didn't even win a majority in the crowded GOP primaries. He was also buoyed for various reasons by a media that would benefit if he won.

2) Trump's platform is Trump. Everybody knows that. He doesn't have an ideology. He contradicted himself all through the campaign so any platform is moot.

3) Clinton was unpopular for many reasons beyond the email stuff. In many ways she was a bad candidate. She was an ultimate political insider, for instance. Personal concerns aside, many people who voted against her were also alarmed that Scalia would be replaced with another Souter or Kagan. Even given Trump's capriciousness, they thought a gamble on a "good" justice was better than a guarantee of a bad one.

Trump won because he was a better politician. Over-promise and under-deliver

> But this too shall pass.

Probably not for several generations if the GOP get to stuff SCOTUS (which is looking increasingly likely with Kennedy's rumoured retirement and the age of the existing Dems on there.)

[Edit to correctly reference Kennedy instead of Roberts]

Do you mean Kennedy? Or do you have any sources on the Roberts rumor? That's not something I have heard.

You are correct - I meant Kennedy. My apologies - I was reading something that included both of them immediately before commenting and my brain conflated the two.

We'll, to be fair Kennedy has been a bit of a freebie for the left. He was appointed by a Republican but only votes that way sometimes.

So did this not happen ever under Obama? How is this a GOP issue?

Spoken like someone who has never seen EU immigration laws.

oh, us citizens are very aware of this new isolationism; some of us like me are terrified, but 46% of use seemingly wanted it.

Sanction the US now!

I'm an American, an SAR member and don't support this xenophobic, regressive isolationism. What made America great was a fairly liberal policy of accepting most immigrants. Turning people off silently loses potential talent, entrepreneurs, investors and tourist money that will go elsewhere. This situation is unacceptable and un-American.

My guess would be that the US found some dodgy software that happened to make use of cURL, add flagged him as part of it, given what he's previously said about receiving emails from people that have found his details in other software: https://daniel.haxx.se/blog/2016/11/14/i-have-toyota-corola/

My guess is that DHS denies entry to random people just to hit some internal quotas.

This. Without reading the article, my first assumption is that a Visa was denied on random grounds, eg coming from a country where visas are already hard to get. I can't believe anyone on the US Visa offices actually doing their research on the person.

It's hard for Swedes to get a visa to visit the US? When did that happen?

>I can't believe anyone on the US Visa offices actually doing their research on the person.

Suspect Palantir, or some other contractor having some shitty software to score applicants based on social media + web searches + magic sauce.

Countries where VISA applications have a high failure rate aren't part of the ESTA program to begin with. Having a low rejection rate is a condition for being in the program.

Except if that were so they'd just routinely stop him on arrival instead. We've had countless stories of programmers being interviewed crossing borders and offered deals. There was one on HN just last week about a programmer tweeting about being approached, but I can't find that story.. but its their MO.

Do-Not-Fly is for people they fear might blow up the plane before it arrives in the US.

I think that the US and the Swedish airlines are co-operating so that the airline doesn't have to pay for the flight back to Sweden, in case of being denied entry.

Many controls are done before leaving Sweden.

Airlines normally utilize your return flight for that. But, it could still mean that their next flight back is slightly (more) overbooked and so they are incentivised to make sure to only board people who have a high chance to get through immigration.

Not only that but airlines are frequently fined for transporting a persona non grata even if it wasn't the airline's fault; so 99.9% of the time if an airline is informed beforehand that a person will not be accepted into the country they will refuse to let them board, they don't want to be liable for a fine.

Wouldn't he not be given a visa in the first place if he was such a suspect?

Swedes can get a visa waiver automatically within a few minutes online by using an online form.

ESTA is not entirely automatic. He could have been denied it; in fact, he probably will be denied it the next time he tries to get the ESTA, if he ever does. He will then have to go through the non-waiver visa procedure.

However, you only have to renew ESTA once every two years, not every time you fly. The DHS might have "discovered" whatever they discovered only recently.

He's Swedish national, just needs to fill in the ESTA, no visa requirement.

He probably does not need a visa (that's the case if one has a biometric passport)

My feeling is that I read stories like these pretty often. That somebody was denied entry or arrested or humiliated while entering the USA. Is this because it happens more often in the USA then in other countries? Or is there some kind of reporting bias at play?

It's not just the US, this one last year was big news: https://medium.com/@rachelnabors/wtfuk-73009d5623b4

I suspect there are a few confounding factors. Firstly, lots of non-residents travel to tech conferences in the US. This gives them a wider pool of people to reject. My personal experience is that US-Americans are underrepresented at conferences in other places. They're by no means absent, but it feels off to me.

I do think that even controlling for that it happens more in the US than other countries, though. Of my colleagues who travel a lot I don't know anyone who's had trouble at a border other than the US.

>Of my colleagues who travel a lot I don't know anyone who's had trouble at a border other than the US

Also my experience. In a massive country like the US it's easy to get irate about individual cases like this but also important to acknowledge that in general it works pretty well. I know of more cases in other countries of this happening (including to myself) than the US.

Now in general they treat people like shit at the border. These are not just some cases.

Actually, they treat their own people like shit too, see the security lines at airports during the summer (O'Hare I hate you).

There is a reporting selection factor: this is happening to "tech people", including white middleclass people from the rest of the West who aren't used to being treated like second-class non-citizens or being victims of a bureaucracy they can't appeal against.

This was at his local airport in Sweden. To quote some tweets:

"They denied me entry on ESTA with no explanation. Already at check-in in Sweden. =( or rather instead of check-in"

"I only got to the airport locally. My passport was flagged somehow so the airline wouldn't let me check in, called to ask why... So they say"

Edit: ESTA is this: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

So the DHS denied him for some reason.

but when you apply for an ESTA you get told you've been 'approved' - you use this as a basis for booking a flight and travelling, if they're going to take it back without telling you (they have your email address) that really sucks, kind of passive aggressive

They don't seem to do the check when you apply. Years ago I fat-fingered my passport number, the ESTA went through fine, but I was refused at the airport due to my typo.

I had to make a new one on the spot, was no problem, but it seems that they will just approve the ESTA when applying for it, and then later refuse you if they want.

They sometimes check. My last two ESTA renewals took 1 day because of some manual checks. Went through in the end. Know others who had the same experience so I guess they are performing some background checks.

It'd be very funny if all of this boils down to him having a typo entering his info.

So the lesson is apply for ESTA as late as possible?

ESTA does not tell you you're "approved" -- it simply tells you whether or not you are in one of the eligible populations for visa-free entry to the US. Nothing in ESTA guarantees you'll be allowed into the US, or even to board your plane.

It literally tells you

> Your travel authorization has been approved and you are authorized to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

It then goes on to say (but this is the same for visas as well):

> This does not guarantee admission to the United States; a Customs and Border protection (CBP) officer at a port of entry will have the final determination.

I'm not disagreeing that the web page says that. But what it says is terrible inaccurate wording. ESTA simply determines whether you're someone who is, in general, eligible for visa-free travel (which is primarily determined by your country of citizenship -- everything else involved in ESTA is secondary to that). It doesn't grant a visa or guarantee anything about being allowed in.

Australia uses an almost-identical system (IIRC the US one is based on Australia's).

An ESTA can be denied and there are checks in place. The approval process can sometimes take a day or more. So it's not just checking if you are eligible, they also determine if they assume that you would be granted entry to the country. Since it's valid for 2 years there can obviously be changes after you've been granted the ESTA.

But what the web page says is exactly what the parent comment complained about. Saying "you are free to travel" and then, without notifying you, deny you boarding is not a nice thing to do (even if it happens for a very valid reason). It just shows the careless attitude of whoever designed that system.

You are saying: "But the webpage said this!"

I am saying: "I agree with you that the webpage said this. The webpage should not say that, because that is not accurate or useful."

In your pursuit of antagonizing someone who agreed with you, you have now devolved into trying to nitpick details of a program you clearly don't actually understand, so I'd suggest you just accept that when I said I agreed with you that the wording was bad I did in fact mean it, and stop now.

Not accurate or useful would be an apt description of your comments here.

> but when you apply for an ESTA you get told you've been 'approved'

FWIW, the last esta before the current one was not immediately approved for me. I did however get a mail after a while that it was approved and i get consistently mailed a month before it expires.

The whole ESTA application system is horrid.

If your approval isn't immediate (mine wasn't) then you have to keep checking back to see if/when it gets approved - they don't email you.

It's a bias (not sure how it's called, maybe a type of "survivor bias")

You don't hear about the thousands admitted without an issue in the US every day. But of course those that aren't admitted show up here

May I also note some (tech people) display an increased level of naiveté in dealing with border people.

But you also don't hear from the people who decided not even to try to go to the US, and thus didn't get refused either. That's me since over a decade ago: the US doesn't get my tourist dollars, and gets fewer of my business dollars, as a consequence.

You don't hear about the thousands admitted without an issue in the US every day. But of course those that aren't admitted show up here

Yes, but that bias applies to every country, it doesn't justify the US bias of these reports.

Correct, even a small percentage is indicative of an issue

I guess its both.

Newsworthy people visit the USA more often than other countries due the concentration of a lot of companies and conferences. So, I believe denial of entry happens more often than in other countries.

But, there is also the running trend of focusing on bad/silly things happening in the USA.

To be honest, my experience is that US border checks are very aggressive (like, passive aggression and suspicion is the default attitude). I've seen worse, but my last entrance into the US (in 2012) featured barking sniffer dogs and open distrust – and I'm a white middle class European traveling from a European country. Don't get this much in other places.

The US border is awful for travellers. I'm Australian, so a very friendly nation, and it sucks every time. Much worse than borders in Europe or Asia.

I refuse to travel to the states these days whether for work or pleasure. The fact that it seems to be getting worse rather than better is very worrying.

I have Global Entry so I don't interact with US customs officers aside from waving a receipt at them on my way out of the immigration hall. So I don't have experience of them. But my personal worst stories of border crossings all involve either Canada or Germany, for what it's worth. Canada's CBSA in particular seem to revel in it, yelling at you for asking a question, yelling at you for doing what they told you to do, and just plain yelling at you.

well you just described the US borders for the rest of us.

Adding mine. I traveled to US three times, each time the border check was unpleasant.

I don't get it why they can't just do a passport check and be gone with it like the do in EU?

What's the point of the questions, last time they event wanted me to show them my return airline tickets (why? If I wanted to stay illegally I could have created those easily).

And the queues, after a long flight, the last thing you want it to stand in those long queues and waiting for hours to get to the hotel.

BTW. I'm white, but from Central Europe (Poland) - but why would I want to stay illegally in SF or Dallas when there are cheaper places with more Poles.

I would say there is no passivity at all. It is aggressive plain and simple. I’ve gone through a few times in 5 years and it’s getting worse and worse.

I won’t be returning.

I'm anglo-australian, I have had only good experiences with the staff, regular traveller over ten years. Some shocking queues and missed connections. US has a policy of putting you through customs even if you are doing an international transfer. But border personnel themselves consistently good.

While we're sharing anecdotes, I flew into JFK several times around 2013-2014 and experienced only quick and friendly border security agents.

The border agents themselves were friendly enough to put up with my cranky self and the screaming kid after a 10 hour flight. The rest of that airport is a complete disaster, compared to places like Schiphol. This especially concerns the rest of the menially-paid staff that are supposed to help you through the airport.

Every time I have flown to the US the border/passport guards have been polite and friendly. I'm a white, 40+ Brit with family. YMMV.

Staff have generally been friendly yes, with the process sometimes quick, sometimes slow, as anywhere. Customs and Immigration are not there as an alternative comedy store anywhere in the world.

But it's been friendly with bags searched nearly every damn time, and the clear implication that I am a threat.

I am a white middle class male with nothing against the US (and indeed a long time working for a US flagship company), but I am clearly unwelcome.

So I simply don't attempt to go any more.

> Customs and Immigration are not there as an alternative comedy store anywhere in the world.

I participated in a student exchange program that traveled to Russia the summer after the USSR became the CIS. At the end of that trip, we took a buss from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, which required a passing through customs on each side of the border back-to-back.

Exit customs on the Russian side were what you would expect. The group leaders carefully warned us to be quiet/polite/no-jokes, have your passport/visa in hand, etc. It was a polite but very strict situation that created a small but persistent nervousness.

After the very-brief drive to the Finnish side, the customs official that boarded our buss to take the group's passports noticed this nervousness, paused briefly with a laugh, and said to our buss full of students, "Don't worry! You're not in Russia anymore! You can laugh!"

In the spirit of balanced anecdata, I've flown to the US about 10 times in the last 2-3 years on business and pleasure. Multiple airports and it has always been efficient and friendly.

> But, there is also the running trend of focusing on bad/silly things happening in the USA.

This is a silly thing if you never travel, but if you travel abroad you realize that most borders are friendly except for a few countries (and the US is on top of the list for worst borders imo)

> Or is there some kind of reporting bias at play?

No it is not, read the comments here to see that many people even on HN are impacted by the US borders in bad ways.

I guess a lot of people try to enter the US, some small proportion get rejected, and you hear about some small proportion of that. Overall you end up hearing several stories.

I hate to break it to you but take it from someone who has traveled all over the world to all sorts of weird regimes and through some crazy hairy checkpoints: the US has developed a major attitude problem in the past 20 years.

I was denied entry once, and I am a frequent flyer.

It was at Calgary's airport. I was called out for a search. Then, border security guys spent an hour having coffee and my plane flew away. I came to them and made them have a very unpleasant conversation with me for the next hour.

They summoned their higher up, who came with an official entry refusal with no reason stated, citing that he has no obligation to give one.

The bastard had a badge with name R. Torres on it.

Nevertheless, I flew the next day on the same airline.

Just to balance the narrative here a bit, I have traveled into and out of the US many times per year for around 15 years with no problems on an ESTA. I only recently switched to a visa.

After a long flight having to deal with the delay and hassle of immigration seems much worse than it is. I really hate it, and the comments here suggest others do too, but if you look at what we have to deal with objectively it's not really that horrible.

It feels weird for me to be defending them, because of the crappy experiences over the years, but when it comes down to it I think CBP are far more reasonable than they are given credit for because of the crappy environment it happens in. If you were calmly asked the same questions by a sweet guy or girl on a chaise longue while being offered champagne and strawberries, people would have almost no problem even though it's really the same thing without the elevated stress level.

Regarding Daniel - like others here I'm sure it's because cURL has been used extensively for bad purposes he was kicked off the ESTA program. Yes it sucks that they didn't let him know in advance, and they didn't have the smarts to figure that he had nothing to do with the bad actors.

For me getting a visa was a pretty easy process. The interviewer in my country was a smart political science graduate and everything went smoothly. An inconvenience for sure, but hey this is another sovereign nation, why should us foreigners expect to be able to march in without playing by their rules, even if we don't agree with them.

Don't get me wrong - this situation sucks for Daniel and US immigration has massive room for improvement.

> Regarding Daniel - like others here I'm sure it's because cURL has been used extensively for bad purposes he was kicked off the ESTA program. Yes it sucks that they didn't let him know in advance, and they didn't have the smarts to figure that he had nothing to do with the bad actors.

Very strange paragraph right there. I could easily generalize this to Windows powershell is increasingly being used in cyber offensives by non-state actors, let us eject Microsoft from the United States

Yes you can generalize this to Windows powershell.

And no that does not have anything to do with ejecting Microsoft from the US. Microsoft isn't a private foreign individual using a privileged entry mechanism in the US that given any reason whatsoever can be revoked in favour of a perfectly functional visa process that most countries have to use.

ESTA is only available to a few countries, and not all people in those countries.

I don't think Microsoft will be ejected from the US because of an ESTA invalidation.

Great. So what does this rejection accomplish based on your premise of having written software that has been repurposed by evil actors? Dan's GPS coordinates at any time t does not affect whether he writes code that will be used for good or evil, so what gives? :\

No one should be held responsible for a fact that causes damage without direct involvement. The legal system uses `iuris personae` and limited liability precisely for this. Distinguishing a natural person from a legal person in this case is contrary to the purpose of the laws in force.

Each tool can be used for good and for evil: risk management is primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss, and is embedded by the law for companies, and people too.

He wasn't denied entry into the US. He was denied access to a fast track system for entry into the US, so he has to use the slow, annoying, more methodical way.

It certainly sucks, but your summary of the US legal system is irrelevant.

He apparently had his paperwork in order and was rejected when he tried to travel.

Spin it however you like, but the fact is that he was denied entry into the US?

Whether or not he can pay (time, money) to go in the future is irrelevant to being denied today?

Regarding the entire esta vs visas... I'm lucky enough to have passed painlessly through VISA and I don't understand the difference between them? You have to apply for both? You have to provide your identity documents, information about yourself, payment? The only difference I can see is that you don't need to visit an embassy? Why do we draw a distinction, other than marketing?

My purpose was not to criticise your comment, but to offer a starting point for reflection. It is not a secret that (in recent years) the number of people subject to more stringent authorisation procedures are constantly increasing, and this without counting the no-fly.

Having been a great admirer of the US, I can say that what I admire are some principles, principles that seem forgotten. They are probably forgotten because when you teach a CBP employee to look for only the worst of people, this will eventually find something suspicious in anyone.

The recent run into exploiting software vulnerabilities could explain why there’s a focus on developers/hackers. But just putting a critique is not constructive, remembering where we come from, what are our principles, why we have them, and their purpose, is much better to motivate why it's wrong to "discriminate" someone.

It's not just slow and annoying, it's wrong because he’s not responsible.

The nuance you're trying to invent is meaningless if you miss your flight and the conference.

> If you were calmly asked the same questions by a sweet guy or girl on a chaise longue while being offered champagne and strawberries, people would have almost no problem even though it's really the same thing without the elevated stress level.

Cute girl offers glass of champagne and complimentary strawberry 'so.. I'm gonna need you to unlock your phone, give me the password to your work-related e-mail, your personal e-mail and all your social media accounts.'

A popular tactic of intelligence agencies, Mata Hari passim.

I travel into the US constantly, as do many people I know, and I have never in person come across a single person this has happened to.

Not saying it doesn't happen, just that it's easy to blow this stuff out of proportion.

That's what I'm trying to do here - offer the view of someone who does this every few months for nearly two decades.

I don't think it has anything to do with what software he works on.

I'd be willing to bet significant money that it was either a clerical error, or something mundane from his ESTA form that got double-checked and came up "no". I am willing to bet this because I have been in that situation:


> cURL has been used extensively for bad purposes

What?! Sources please.

I once used it to change the user-agent and get an alternative response from an API.


I presume the author of the comment is refferring to incidents such as https://daniel.haxx.se/blog/2010/12/23/hacking-me/

If you write a general-purpose utility and it gets included in some kind of bad software, the people writing the 'bad' parts aren't likely to include their details, but if your 'good' code has your details....

I mean, I've personally used it to access APIs from shell scripts that would have been far more maintainable in a proper Python script.

That's three counts of conspiracy to degrade system maintainability, manufacturing tooling with intent to degrade system maintainability, possession of tooling to degrade system maintainability, one count of international travel with intent to degrade system maintainability, two counts of manufacture of false documents[0][1] in support of a conspiracy. Bail denied. And... that's life.

[0] Exhibit A: man curl

[1] CURL website

You monster!

If an attackers rouge process lands itself on a target, using something trusted like cURL is better than opening a socket directly, no? Less likely to attract attention?

Same goes for wget, links, etc.

Sorry no sources, it won't take you long to verify this yourself using google. I'm sure there are competent infosec guys and gals here who can provide a better explanation.

rogue, not rouge.

"I once saw him kill three men in a bar with a pencil, with... a... f#@king... pencil." © John Wick

> For me getting a visa was a pretty easy process

Just because it went well for you doesn't mean you have to turn a blind eye for other people. As soon as you don't come from a list of "nice" countries crossing borders is a living hell.

> but when it comes down to it I think CBP are far more reasonable than they are given credit for because of the crappy environment it happens in

I don't think this is true. The circumstances/environment are the same but compare entering America to entering any other country.

No country but America has ever fingerprinted me, searched my luggage, detained me in a small room with no explanation for 3 hours, forced the departing airport to search me again after security (on 3 separate but consecutive flights to the US, months apart) or made me spend more than ~10 minutes in a line waiting to get through security or immigration. America has done all of these things.

Considering the various "terrorist watch lists" are basically vaguely defined names and anyone can get added trivially, without review, and without a way to challenge[1], is anyone really surprised? When it's bad enough that a sitting US Senator was stopped and interrogated because "T Kennedy" was on the list[2], we passed that absurdity threshold a long time ago.

1 - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/25/terrorist-watch-lis...

2 - http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/07/politics/no-fly-mistakes-cat-s...

"Don't assume malice when stupidity is an adequate explanation."


My exact thoughts. The bureaucracy/machinery is so complex that it could have been any minor error in the paperwork.

For a person, this is their worst day. For a huge bureaucracy, nothing.

Quite possible there's some Scandinavian criminal that happens to have the same name, for example.

Pretty Kafkaesque

Who assumed malice? Does the reason really matter?

He himself says that he does not know the reason why. It could be because of his involvement in cURL, it could be a mix-up, it could be any reason, really. As long as there is no official statement or any other formal reason, this all remains speculative and consequently unfit for solid arguments against the US immigration policy in this specific case.

Disclaimer: I am a European citizen and by no means in favor of recent immigration policy changes of the US.

Recently EU parliament voted to introduce visas for US citizens due to unequal treatment of EU countries. "About fing time", I though. Few months pass and I read that EU Commission will do nothing*. I hate those bureaucrats in the EU.

EU should retaliate (not of malice, just to force equal treatment). It's not a visa waiver if you can be denied entry so easily, as many people are. And of course not all EU countries are eligible.

I understand your sentiment and the reaction.

But I think it would be wrong to have an eye-for-eye-approach. US Citizens should see, how easy it can be to travel to a country, without jumping through hoops like ESTA. They should feel wrong why they force it onto others but enjoy the freedom to travel easily.

Otherwise nothing will change. It's easy to start a "oh, they do it to us, let's annoy them even more" spiral and that would really, really suck.

> "US Citizens should see, how easy it can be to travel to a country, without jumping through hoops like ESTA."

They have been seeing it all this time, yet this is what you get.

Change takes time. It's a complex problem deeply rooted in fear, mongered by people who now successfully occupied the White House.

In the mean time, I agree, probably a simpler yet more aggressive tit-for-tat approach would be more fruitful.

Nothing has been done about unequal treatment of EU countries in the past decade. Don't you think this is long overdue?

For EU it should be a matter of principle and backbone. They simply don't have them. EU has proven several times that they will look the other way as long as it benefits larger members.


I think the prime example of this is the common energy policy, that then Germany regularly fucks up with the OPAL pipeline deals with Putin.

I agree about not participating in eye-for-an-eye. However I disagree that the US Citzens will percieve their smooth entry experiences with reported obstructive from others. Mainly because most people don't hear about such things, that such events are relatively rare, and that they happen to The Other (literally foreigners).

In other words, we shouldn't only expect to rely on the guilt of having a pain free experience to make different others have less pain.

I'm not sure how one can improve things, but if it gets worse, they should notice things when conference delegates are barred from attending.

> It's not a visa waiver if you can be denied entry so easily, as many people are.

I'm not sure that 700 out of 1.2Million qualifies as 'many people'. Of course there's no way of knowing how many of those 700 are mistakes, but even if they all are (as I'd be more than willing to believe - government employees aren't high on my list), that's only a 0.06% error rate...


I wish they would retaliate, but do not assume they don't do anything. They killed the "no battery devices in cabin" policy in less than two weeks.

Brazil has a mirror policy with the US when it comes to Visas.

He seems to have tried to enter USA using ESTA. ESTA is not a visa, it's a visa-waiver program. It's specifically created as an easier method of entering a country, but as a trade-off, it says in the terms that they can deny it for any reason with no questions. This does not mean that the person cannot enter the country per se, it just means they need to apply for a real visa.

> it says in the terms that they can deny it for any reason with no questions

Same goes for any visa.

But in the case of a normal Visa, a certain amount of vetting is done beforehand, although you can still be denied entry.

To get a J1 I had to deliver quite a few documents and go the local US embassy to do an interview there.

An ESTA you can do literally 10 minutes before checking in (I did it once), I doubt anything else than a few basic automatic checks are done.

I believe the border control personnel act as if that vetting hasn't been done at all. All in all, I think this path is worse, since you get denied to entry after a long flight, and you have to flight back...

It's frustrating they couldn't warn him prior to the hour of travel? I find it difficult to believe they'll have rejected him for something they couldn't have contacted him about days or weeks ago. With ESTA they've got perfect contact details too?

I assume he's lost the price of the flight? Travel insurance wouldn't repay it?

At least they told him before he flew over. They could have done that when he actually landed, and he would have been denied entry there, then shuffled back onto a flight.

I do not get your point. The ESTA is the only way to get to the country if you're going to a conference or on holidays or to visit someone.

If you're looking for better, you need to find a job to sponsor you and you need to go through the lottery (H1B). Or you need to work for a US company abroad for more than a year (L1). Or you need to get married with an american person.

You can absolutely get a B-1 or B-2 visa. Only VWP-eligible country citizens are even eligible to get an ESTA in the first place.


You fill out a DS-160 and go through the process, but you don't have to get an ESTA. You are always allowed to apply for a full visa instead.

More succinctly, click the "May I apply for a visa instead of using the VWP?" question on this page: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-...

You can get a B-1 or B-2 visa if you're not on the list of countries eligible for an ESTA.

There are regular tourism/business visitor visa's I'm sure.

But those are more of a hassle compare to ESTA. Nobody from an ESTA country will do those if they're not immediately denied.

> There are regular tourism/business visitor visa's I'm sure.


Where are you getting the information? There absolutely are other visas. The ESTA is just an easier way to do it, and as such, can sometimes be more limited. You can also get normal visa and get other vetting procedures and likely other outcomes.

It's one thing to be denied for it upon application, the other one to have the authorization revoked after it was given in the first place

> but as a trade-off, it says in the terms that they can deny it for any reason with no questions

Notably, the Customs and Border Patrol officer at your point of entry can do this [1], on the spot.

[1] https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/application.html?execution=e1s...

There's a good chance that if automated software is at least partly responsible for this, that cURL was probably used somewhere in the intelligence pipeline. Rather ironic if that is the case.

I should make a low level utility and in the license prohibit governments from denying me entry.

That clause of the license probably wouldn't hold up in court though.

On a related note, the visa issuing system of the US sucks. I was denied a tourist visa and then issued one on reapplication in a matter of 5 days. The process is highly irregular since absolutely nothing changed between the two 30 seconds interviews except the interviewer. The only inconvenience was I had to reschedule my YC interview and throw away an additional $300 in visa form and travel cost.

Trouble is: to save face they'll just stonewall him indefinitely rather than investigating, admitting a mistake and removing him from the list.

Its easy to speculate that if the feds wanted to speak to him on something computer-related he'd be let travel to the US and interviewed on arrive.

The "Do Not Fly" list is usually for suspected terrorists.

Perhaps it was just a name-match? The wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Fly_List says:

> Many individuals were "caught in the system" as a result of sharing the exact or similar name of another person on the list

However, there are at least 82 "Daniel Stenberg"s in Sweden (and I'm surprised its not considerably higher that that!) https://personer.eniro.se/resultat/Daniel%20Stenberg

First of all, there's no reason to think that it's a "Do Not Fly" list. He says that he did the US border control checks in his local airport. That is quite common (at least in Europe) when flying to the US and just means that they check your visa (or visa-waiver in this case) at home instead of after physically getting to the US[0]

I live in Ireland and at almost every (all?) flight from Dublin to the US you do the US border control check here to the point where they don't even check your passport on arrival.

Second, there really is plenty of people with problems like that. A friend of mine travels frequently to the US and his name is the same as a relatively well known drug lord (it's a fairly common name, too). As far as I know, he's never been denied entrance to the US, but he routinely gets flagged, separated, his identity verified and his luggage checked. Usually, all it means is that when he travels with colleagues or family, they have to wait for him for an extra hour or two to get out of the airport.

[0] I think that, technically, the area of the local airport where they do that is considered US soil and, for all legal purposes, you are in the US. As I said, not sure about this and I might be completely wrong, but that's what the signs lead me to think.

Sweden currently does not have any pre-clearance airports (which is what you describe for Dublin). The check here was most likely only done by the airline itself using a system supplied by the US authorities for checking ESTA validity.

What puzzles me is that the ESTA application was approved in the first place. If they were going to deny him entry, why approve it?

Could there be a more benign explanation for this issue? For example: his ESTA approval expired (it's valid for two years), or the data entered on the ESTA form did not exactly match his passport data (special characters, middle names, etc.)

The online ESTA form does not "approve" someone to enter the US. The online ESTA form is required to determine if you're in a population that's generally eligible for visa-free entry (so that the airline and other systems know whether to require a visa for you).

Filling out the ESTA form does not grant a visa, does not grant the right to enter the US, and does not even guarantee you'll be allowed onto the plane. It simply says "Yes, you appear to be a citizen of a country which, in general, has visa-free entry to the US".

This is simply not true (I posted the exact message it shows you at the end of the process somewhere else in this thread – it explicitly contains the phrase "approved and authorized to travel").

Yes, it does not guarantee you entry. However, it does much more than just to check whether you have a required nationality. If that were all, the system weren't needed. Practically every country has visa-free entry for some nationalities and such travel authorisation systems are very rare among them. Airline know how to check if you have one of the visa-free nationalities and do so every day everywhere in the world (probably much more reliable than having the travel fill out a form, too – they even check again in the case of the US, as we see in this example). The US introduced the ESTA system much later than visa-free travel for certain nationalities.

And as I said in my other reply to you: the wording you are citing is terrible and inaccurate and you should never, ever, ever, EVER, rely on it as an exhaustive legally-binding declaration.

This reply was not at all about the wording but about the fact that the system does more than just checking whether "you appear to be a citizen of a country which, in general, has visa-free entry to the US". If that were all, it would be useless.

Unfortunately as a non-US citizen I have to rely on the system. The alternative would be getting a B1/B2-visa but this doesn't change the fact that I could still be denied entry. (Of course this is the same, I could be denied entry to any non-EU country if they wish so.)

Citizenship is the primary determinant of ESTA, because ESTA is the feeder of the Visa Waiver Program which in turn is based entirely on citizenship. Everything else in ESTA is largely just duplicating requirements that would be imposed without ESTA (such as remaining validity of passport, whether you have a return ticket, purpose of visit, etc.).

The Visa Waiver Program was in place before ESTA was introduced. Before that, the airline took a look at your passport and then a list of allowed nationalities. Having the traveller fill out an online form does not change this requirement.

ESTA is the system which determines eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program. That is the sole and entire purpose of ESTA. That is why ESTA was created. Your comment that VWP existed earlier is not a disproof of this and has zero relevance. As such, your mention of that gives an extremely strong indication that you do not in fact understand what it is you are arguing about.

ESTA's purpose is to determine eligibility for VWP. VWP is based on citizenship of a participating country.

All other things asked for and evaluated by ESTA are things which any traveler, entering via any legal means, can and usually will also be evaluated on. For example, ESTA will usually verify that you have a passport which is valid for at least six months beyond your scheduled date of departure from the United States. This is not a unique requirement that ESTA, only ESTA, and nothing else anywhere other than ESTA imposes. A minimum amount of remaining passport validity is an incredibly common requirements, not just of the United States but of practically every country in the world.

I feel like I am repeating myself. When ESTA was introduced, only a single requirement was added: "You need to fill out that online form". Somehow, the eligibility was determined before it was introduced. The things you list (nationality, passport validity, ...) are all easily checked before boarding by airlines. This happens everywhere in the world, for all kinds of destinations. An online form is not a reliable way to determine your citizenship anyway.

You seem to be unaware that even if you fulfil the formal requirements, ESTA applications can and are being denied by the system (and are sometimes checked by hand which can take a few days). This can have all kinds of reasons. I know at least two persons that were denied their ESTA even though they ticked off all the requirements. Both later got a B1/B2 visa without any trouble.

Yes, somehow eligibility was determined before ESTA existed. Now ESTA exists, and ESTA is the thing that determines eligibility.

I do not see how this is relevant in any way, or even what it is you are trying to tell me I'm wrong about, because every time I tell you how the system works you go running off to some irrelevant other thing. Please either explain clearly what point you are trying to make, or stop.

This sounds like something Gogolian bureaucrats would say. "The purpose of filling out form A38 is to have form A38 filled out." Modern bureaucracy usually doesn't introduce requirements for the heck of it. Checking citizenship worked fine before the introduction of ESTA so "checking citizenship" was not the reason the system was introduced or is still in place. It does that as well but that is not the point of ESTA. This is all I wanted to tell you.

The fact that the visa waiver program existed earlier has absolutely no relevance. Was there a way to check requirements prior to ESTA being created? Yes. But now, ESTA is the way requirements are checked for the visa waiver program. That is the purpose for which ESTA exists and for which it was created. That is ESTA's job. That is what ESTA does. ESTA is not some separate data-gathering or visa-issuing system; its sole and entire purpose for existing is to be the thing which, now -- and yes, once upon a time a system existed for this which was not ESTA, but that is not relevant because now ESTA is the thing which does this, because it is possible for one thing to replace another thing -- checks requirements for the visa waiver program.

So, hopefully you will finally, for the love of all that is holy, agree that ESTA is the thing which checks requirements for the visa waiver program. The visa waiver program is tied ultimately to one, exactly one, and only one thing: "Are you a citizen of a country designated as part of the Visa Waiver Program? (Yes/No)".

Everything else is secondary to that. Everything else is details. Everything else is bureaucratic requirements like checking how long it'll be until your passport expires or looking for red flags like not having a return ticket, and those things get checked on everybody, even people who are getting visas. Meanwhile, citizenship of a visa-waiver country is the sine qua non of the visa waiver program and thus is the sine qua non of ESTA "approval" since ESTA's sole purpose is to check the requirements of the visa waiver program.

Usually if things are replaced for another there is a reason. If you arguments are not your thing, I can only appeal to authority, namely the people that created the system in the first place:

    The Conference agrees on the need for significant 
    security enhancements to the entire Visa Waiver Program as set 
    forth in the Senate bill and to the implementation of the 
    electronic travel authorization system prior to permitting the 
    Secretary to admit new countries under his new waiver 
    authority. The Conference mandates that the Secretary develop 
    such an electronic travel authorization system to collect 
    biographical and such other information from each prospective 
    Visa Waiver Program traveler necessary to determine whether the 
    alien is eligible to travel under the program and whether a law 
    enforcement or security risk exists in permitting the alien to 
    travel to the United States. The Conference believes the 
    Secretary should check the information collected in the 
    electronic travel authorization system against all appropriate 
    databases, including lost and stolen passport databases such as 
    that maintained by Interpol. The Conference believes that 
    checking travelers from Visa Waiver Program countries against 
    all appropriate watch lists and databases will greatly enhance 
    the overall security of the Visa Waiver Program.

As you see, the main stated purpose is not the check citizenship but to query various databases in advance.

(For completeness I want to add that nowadays "You haven't travelled to some countries" is another requirement to use the VWP. The ESTA application also asks for things visa applications do not, such as the names of your social media accounts.)

You are interpreting my statement as "there are literally no other questions on the ESTA form other than citizenship and that's the only thing it looks at". That is not what I said, and you need to stop assuming that's what I said.

ESTA exists to check eligibility for the visa waiver program. The primary criterion of the visa waiver program is... your citizenship. Everything else is secondary. All that stuff in your big quote? It's stuff that the US wants to check on everybody. The fact that ESTA checks it does not mean that ESTA is suddenly not a gatekeeper for the visa waiver program, or that ESTA is doing special extra checks above and beyond anything else, or that ESTA is somehow secretly doing something other than visa-waiver eligibility. The fact that ESTA checks it simply means that everybody, including people eligible for visa waiver, will get checked on those things. The difference between visa waiver and non-visa-waiver is not whether those checks are done; it's what country you're a citizen of. ESTA checks those other things because they have to be checked no matter what, and doing them in the same form makes things more efficient. Period.

I never claimed that citizenship is not the main criteria for the VWP. But just because it is does not mean that everything that feeds into the VWP has "citizenship" as a main purpose. If that were then nobody would have gone through the trouble of creating ESTA. The checks that were in place before were sufficient for that purpose. There were no complaints about that. You can't just look at things in a vacuum as if there was no world before today. Just because something on the surface has one main task does not mean it was mainly created to perform that task.

The reason ESTA exists is, as you correctly note, that the US wants to do certain checks on everybody, including VWP travellers. Before the introduction of ESTA they could not easily do that. Now they can. The reason they ask for citizenship on the same form is then done for efficiency (to check all the main eligibility criteria as well).

The fact that ESTA collects data and later allowed to easily add additional criteria for the VWP and to collect a fee, was certainly not unwelcome by the creators (but this is not why it was designed).

Why have I even started to reply in the first place? Your original comment states

- "The online ESTA form is required to determine if you're in a population that's generally eligible for visa-free entry (so that the airline and other systems know whether to require a visa for you)." (it is not required to do that as history before its introduction shows – there are alternatives to do that just as effectively)

- "It simply says 'Yes, you appear to be a citizen of a country which, in general, has visa-free entry to the US'" (no, it states much more as evidenced by the fact that countless of citizens of VWP nations get denied their ESTA application)

> The online ESTA form does not "approve" someone to enter the US

I did not claim that it did. I was speaking only of the ESTA application itself.

>why approve it?

It is automatic, there is no human oversight to it as far as i know.

The point is that if his name was on some blacklist or no-fly-list, then this should have had its effect during the (automated) ESTA application process.

ESTA is valid two years. Maybe it appeared on the list only recently.

What is the point of it then?

To extract $14 per visitor.

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