The idea that the CBP can make a meaningful difference to the security of this country by searching the informational effects of .1% of incoming travelers, when there's I-don't-know-how-many gigabits/sec of connectivity to other countries that anyone in the US can use by firing up their smartphone, is ludicrous on its face. The idea that they can accurately select the .1% of travelers that might be carrying evidence of a crime just by looking at them is equally ludicrous.
Devils'a advocate: But some information is illegal in USA, like kiddie pron, terrorist stuff, stolen trade secrets etc...so we have to make sure it doesn't enter USA.
On the other hand, they can send it via the internet, making border searches less effective. And since they're really burdensome and affect privacy of everyone the court might do away with them. Hopefully
Including, I believe, a rather massive body of drawings and animation films from Japan (I'm thinking of Hentai involving underage schoolgirls).
One does not simply forbids those "to protect the children" (no one under 18 is actually involved in the making of such… art), so there must be some harder to justify reason (like good old puritanism, or priming effects).
This is not illegal at the country-level in the US, however such laws do, hideously in my opinion, exist in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada among other places. They also exist as "oscene" at the state level and thus you may be liable depending on state law.
There was recently a case in Austrila in which a prisoner was brought before a court on the charge of producing child pornography, while in prison -- how? He wrote short fiction stories and they were found by a prison guard. Similarly longer ago a case in Australia decided that children in the Simpsons do indeed qualify as children, beacuse although they do not share many bodily features of real humans, the genitals as depicted in the pornography did share characteristics to those of real humans, which was apparently enough to secure a conviction under the charge of possession of child pornography.
Canada similarly has illegalised possession, even of story material depicting sexual acts involving a minor. To me at least it is ridiculous to think that one may be libable under the law for prison time of up to three years for possession of a drawing.
I believe the NSA already does this or it is within their 'jurisdiction'.
They can do much more with a court order, and the court orders almost never get turned down.
You sure about that?
Regular border searches should have no right to look at devices at all, since there is no plane or train to endanger and there are even more ways to beam over data after you cross the physical border.
The entire thing just stinks of intimidation tactics, subjecting people to personal invasions with, yet again, no measurable improvement to actual security.
> I haven't traveled abroad in a couple years, so I'm not sure exactly how this works, but I would be unable to contain my laughter if some CBP cop asked me to unlock my phone or laptop. Is this something that actually happens nowadays? Why on earth would anyone ever consent to this nonsense?
For some reason this comment is dead and it is a valid question IMO.
For people who don't know, if you don't have a citizenship they actually might deny your entry if you won't cooperate.
If you do, they can't refuse you entering the US, but they can confiscate your electronics.
Doesn't seem right, that's why EFF and ACLU is suing.
Steal. Confiscation without a warrant is theft. With a warrant they may be able to search, but failing to return within 48 hours is also theft.
Alas, the government steals so much in so many different ways, and runs schools indoctrinating children in "patriotism" that its hard for people to see these things anymore.
Now, us is working on programs to enable expedited travel like global entry, or nexus, and more people are eligible for it (like indians). While it is really hard to see how phones can be dangerous in this day an age of internet, but still...
Overreaction is exactly what caused those Islamist terrorists to be able to credibly claim they not only won that particular battle but managed to get their enemy to continuously score own goals ever since.
9/11 was a very ugly thing, but if the goal was to drive a wedge between the United States and the rest of the world because of the reaction it caused then it succeeded very well. Note that terrorists do not necessarily have as a goal to kill a lot of people (though I'm sure they would not pass up the opportunity if they had it), the goal is to cause their perceived enemy to be afraid and to react in ways that further their (the terrorists) goals.
So you are actually helping them.
Yes, their stated goal is to make you afraid. It seems to have worked.
> Their literature explicitly states this.
And our 'literature' explicitly states a whole bunch of things too. Never put too much trust in a single book or in people who only have one book. At the same time, what a bunch of religious fanatics call for and what a billion or more Muslims feel like has nothing to do with each other and without the cooperation of the second the first can do some occasional damage but are not nearly powerful enough to overcome even the smallest Western country.
> It's a tragedy that the islamists are starting to succeed in Europe
They are? I haven't seen any and I live there.
Please point them out for me.
> because collectively you refuse to recognize it for what it is: an asymmetric, paramilitary invasion.
You mean: Muslims in general? Refugees?
Or are you actually claiming the majority of these folks are terrorists now?
I really have a very hard time finding any shadow of aggression in my Muslim friends, at the same time I have absolutely no problem detecting that (well beyond a shadow) in the words and deeds of the Neo fascists who would be more than happy if they disappeared by any means.
Anyway, I can see that your mind is made up on this and that whatever I say will probably just convince you more that you are right about all this so I will leave it at this point.
Best of luck with your fears.
Sure ~5,000 people died in 9/11 and that's awful, but how many people die in car crashes every year? How many people die from smoking, cardiac issues, diabetes, gun violence, drugs, workplace accidents, medication non-adherence etc etc? How many people have died in the wars that we started on the (incorrect) grounds that they would prevent future terrorist attacks? You don't see us going crazy trying to prevent any of these causes of death even though they amount to far more deaths than terrorism ever has or ever will.
Please stop fear mongering and look at the data. Just because something is scary and different doesn't mean it's actually a real threat to the United States. It makes absolutely no sense to expend the resources and effort that we do given the scope of the problem.
Great job. Really showed the terrorists with that response.
I remember seeing big signs at US border crossings that said YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS in big allcaps, and I think the law is mostly on their side. Those signs are probably still there.
"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive ANY PERSON of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to ANY PERSON within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"
But from a legal perspective, it's quite false. SCOTUS has said that the government's need to ensure security at the border leads to a different balance of rights versus authority when you're near the border. (you should also ignore the fact that these rules put 2/3 of the US population "near the border" and thus having weakened protection over their rights)
We can yell all we want about the clear meaning of the Constitution, but that doesn't stop the government from confiscating our stuff and throwing us in jail.
For what it's worth.... There's a statement attributed to Abraham Lincoln, "The Constitution is not a suicide pact", which is taken to mean that we shouldn't be so dogmatic about the Constitution as to let it destroy us. I think the words of this statement are correct, but everyone interprets them backwards. It's not a warning, it's an affirmation. As Americans, we should be confident that our Constitution is not something that can harm us if taken too literally. It's not a pretty idea, a luxury that becomes dangerous if indulged in too much. Rather, the Constitution is, indeed, our strength.
We should have confidence that things like the free market of ideas that our freedom of speech creates, or that ready militia made up of all able adults who exercise the right to bear arms can defend us from invaders or errant government. I believe that our freedoms are not luxuries that we should forgo when the government decides there's sufficient danger: it's holding fast to them that will deliver us from danger.
The constitution is a document that granted very limited power to the federal government and very broad rights to the citizens.
All of what we have now-- from the TSA to the the NSA to DOE is unconstitutional.
If the border crossing is not within the jurisdiction of the US, its agents have no authority there, and if it is within the jurisdiction of the US, its agents are subject to its laws and bound to obey them. And if the agent stands one foot in and one foot out, the person seeking entry ought to be able to turn around and return whence they came with all their possessions intact whenever they decide the crossing has become too burdensome and that they no longer wish to enter.
A citizen of France has as much right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure by an agent of the US government in New York as in Paris, or in London. The Constitution is the adhesion contract for all persons seeking to become employees of the nation. It just so happens that no court in the US has been established asserting jurisdiction over territory outside the US, so if said Frenchperson had experienced a violation of their 4th Amendment rights by, for instance, a CIA spook without a warrant, in their own home in France, there is no court available to take the case other than the Supreme Court itself. It simply won't take the case, just because no one wants to open that can of worms.
The de facto situation is that the US government does whatever TF it wants outside the US, because it has the money, might, and influence to get away with it, and the voting public back home just can't give enough focus to international shenanigans as well as their regular, day-to-day problems.
By a strict reading, it breaks its own laws all the time, with absolute impunity. As a lifelong American, I have never heard any politician so much as mention this, even to dismiss it out of hand as a non-issue.
Unlocking an electronic device to examine the bits stored on it is, in my opinion, an unreasonable search and seizure that goes well beyond the scope of the eminently reasonable searches for and seizures of physical contraband at border crossings. Therefore, by its own rules for unreasonable searches, a warrant must be obtained by the US government from itself before said unlocking can happen.
Furthermore, if I saw a sign saying, "YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS", I would be pissed. Regardless of any laws in force, everyone has the right to be treated with a default level of respect and basic human dignity by their fellow humans, and to travel about their own planet without some arrogant yard ape turning their trip into a GDMF Kafka novella. You have the right to be addressed courteously. You have the right to protest any government overreach, even if it trivial, and even if it is not your government. You have the right to live free in the free world.
The official at the border asked them if they planned on working. They both said "no". He asked them again but warned them that their computers and phones had been searched. Again they said "no". The official then showed them correspondence that showed they were expected at a farm were they were expected to work as wwoofers.
They were denied entry.
Personally I don't agree that their correspondence should have been checked in the first case but I can see that this is an example of how this type of privacy invasion might be argued for by government.
I don't doubt that our current body of legislation and judicial precedents make this practice legal, but I honestly can't see this policy actually doing anything.
The classic case of illegal electronic information would be child pornography - but who would be stupid enough to bring it with them to the border for consumption or for trafficking, when the Internet exists? If they were to bring it to the border, what's to stop them from encrypting it not divulging the key?
Beyond C.P., I can imagine certain trade secrets being illegal, like Samuel Slater back in the day. But that was to the benefit of America, and the British were right to suspect him due to his position giving him the capability to leak information that was held secret by state laws. American analogues obviously enforce the unwanted disclosure of state secrets and such based on identities and institutions prior to crossing the border - which makes what the CBP are doing redundant at best.
Terrorists do not need anything outside of this country to operate. We've seen domestic and foreign terrorists alike build their bombs with legal sources of information and material.
IMO, what happened was a power hungry busy body official in the CBP spearheaded this policy. Just another case of crappy people in crappy politics, making crappy solutions to nonexistent problems. It is fortunate that the rest of humanity will be reasonable enough to revert such egregious and useless wastes of resources.
A quick google search revealed absolutely nothing fruitful - 3 articles about the refugees seeking asylum in Canada being deported after CP discovery, 1 American citizen charged with CP found in his residence, 1 American citizen charged by a Saskatchewan provincial court, and 1 former Border Patrol agent caught as part of a Texan initiative that counters crimes against children.
Not a single example comes to mind of an American citizen entering or leaving with illegal electronic information. If these searches were actually doing anything useful, I'm sure an organized effort to promote its success would've been underway.
So if I need to leave the country and come back, and must bring them, I just forfeited my expectation of privacy guaranteed by the bill of rights?
The above poster suggests even worse.
"until you are actually in the United States, you have no reasonable expectation of the Bill of Rights.". They suggest you have no constitutional rights outside of the US border. Forget your cell phone, this would imply that black bag operations are completely legal as long as the US citizen is outside of US borders at the time.
Admittedly, that argument is not very convincing for the US in particular so pretend we are talking about some other country that is not the self-appointed world police.
Except for laws which expressly include territorial limits (the phrase, “within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States” occurs as a limitation in several US criminal laws, for example) US laws absolutely do apply outisde of US borders.
Case in point: having sex with a child outside the US is still a crime you can be prosecuted for under US law when you return.
"Sure officer, i'll unlock my phone and my laptop. There's absolutely nothing on it."
I'm also rather fond of Heifer International.
1) Handover unlocked device, let CBP knuckle-dragger browse through it, in front of me, until they're bored and they hand it back. Get on flight. This is the best case scenario.
2) Handover unlocked device, CPB knucke-dragger takes it to back room where he may or may not download all contents and store it, enabling NSA to play seven-degrees-of-keven-bacon, Osama-edition, forever. That's the worst scenario, but very unlikely that anything comes of that.
3) Laugh at CBP knuckle-dragger, keep phone locked, miss flight, go to airport detention for an indeterminate amount of time until I give in and handover unlocked phone, be subject to scrutiny and "commentary" from CBP official, and maybe, get put on a list somewhere which will cause this to happen every time I fly.
This has never happened to me, and it probably never will, but if it does my plan is to refuse to unlock the phone and wait it out.
But OK, staying locked is a fine thing to do but most people would want to get on with their lives.
Yes, I personally know someone this has happened to. Also resulted in my own personal name/address/other info (amongst that of many others) also being demanded and hence provided to the government.
> Why on earth would anyone ever consent to this nonsense?
What would you do if you weren't a citizen and had a family to come back home to? Just be okay with being denied entry?
Because the government has more guns than you do.
The detailed legal answer is far more complicated than that, but it simplifies readily.