"DHS lawyers claimed that international travel provides, in and of itself, sufficient Constitutional basis for detention and search of international travellers and the search, seizure and copying of the digital contents of their belongings."
Really? Fucking hell.. With every month that goes by, I am less and less inclined to travel to, or do business in, the US..
edit: I'm aware that later in the article they say the courts didn't really agree with this, but it doesn't seem to be preventing it from happening, especially when, after they got what they needed (I call bullshit on "destroy all copies"), they just back down and convince the victim to drop the case.
> Really? Fucking hell.. With every month that goes by, I am less and less inclined to travel to, or do business in, the US..
The insinuation being that the US is the only country doing this?
I hate this sort of thing as much as the next guy, but let's not pretend the US is the only country engaging in this behavior. We can certainly expect better, but don't blind yourself to the obvious. Based on recent events, maybe you shouldn't be traveling anywhere, period.
I wasn't insinuating anything. I said nothing more, or less, than what I said. Any insinuation or implication otherwise is of your own making, and is quite disingenuous I would add.
I live in Canada, so I'm on the border with the US, and while I have certainly travelled worldwide (including to some less than democratic countries), I have overwhelmingly travelled to the US, both for business and personal.
And over the last while, I have become increasingly uncomfortable crossing the border into the US, as compared to how it used to be, based on hearing more and more stories of detention and unreasonable search (both in the media and personal accounts from people I know). I have personally experienced at the very least a new level of hostility and aggressive questioning on a few occasions that I had not experienced before.
So certainly there are other countries where this type of treatment is possible at the border, but I am expressing dismay at the fact that the US is now "one of those" countries, when it didn't used to be.
And yes, "unreasonable" is in the eye of the beholder, but they're my eyes thank you very much, so I may eventually just opt out of visiting the US for any reason.
For a perspective from the other side of the border (I'm from the US): I've been to Canada a few times as a tourist and on business over the past decade, never staying more than a few days. Every time, without exception, I've been on the receiving end of "aggressive", extended questioning, ranging from such oddities as "You're here for our free health care, aren't you? Admit it! Just tell us you don't have insurance!" to lines of questioning that suggest involvement with a drug cartel.
I've also been subjected to extensive physical searches of all my belongings. (And just to be clear, I'm a healthy, Caucasian, 20-something, US born-and-raised, male.)
I often think of most Canadians as being friendlier than a lot of people around the US, but immigration and border control aren't one of those areas.
I had the same experience... I visited Montreal last month for a business trip, first time in a couple of years, and had 40 minutes of rather hostile questioning on my way in.
It didn't make much sense to me, and I assumed that they'd picked a middle-aged, grey-haired, white guy so that they couldn't be accused of racial profiling... but from comments here it seems it is a lot more general.
Some of the questions didn't make a lot of sense (especially not at gone midnight), one or two were personally rather insulting, and they seemed to think that I was over here for employment rather than business meetings.
Getting into China the following week, on the other hand, was a model of efficienty and politeness...
I currently live in eastern Washington state. Up until around 2003, I lived in Seattle. In 2003 and in prior years, entering Canada was as smooth as could be. The people at the Canadian border checkpoints were friendly and asked minimal questions. I always found my re-entry back into the U.S. to be a more rude, though not particularly arduous an ordeal as going the other way.
My most recent entry into .ca was quite the opposite. Bear in mind these are very rural crossing points, nothing like the I5 transit. The most recent Canadian agent was somewhat gruff and unpleasant, asking quite a few questions. Come to think of it, in a prior .ca entry, with a female friend from the UK, the Canadian agent seemed to be convinced that we were entering Canada for the purpose of getting married and asked us repeatedly whether we had such plans. After multiple denials, he went on to advise us not to do so anyway. What??? My crossings back into the U.S. from Canada very recently have been fairly painless compared to going the other way.
I've had nothing but good experiences crossing the border at the Thousand Islands Bridge or Massena, NY. Both ways, everybody was kind, friendly and patient. I hear nothing but horror stories about Niagara falls and the one time I flew into Vancouver was less than pleasant.
Israel is pretty bad in this department as well. I hear that visiting Israel with an Arabic last name, or, god forbid, trying to go visit Palestine from an Israeli airport will land you in all sorts of trouble. In fact I don't plan to visit Israel any time soon.
I believe this is the sentiment of grandparent commenter, the fact that there might be other places where something like this happens is no excuse for a beacon of democracy such as the US.
First off both of what the sibling posters said is true.
1. Israel makes big claims of being an advanced democracy, unlike the Saudi monarchy
2. I wasn't singling Israel in particular. I wouldn't visit Saudi Arabia for the exact same reasons.
But there is another point where your parallel breaks, there is no way to get to Palestine without going through Israel, so if you are a social worker involved with the welfare issues in West Bank or Gaza, or even a Christian pilgrim trying to go to Betlehem, you have no choice but to submit to the ordeal.
The Egypt-Gaza crossing at Rafah is passable, though frequently closed (due to Egyptian restrictions). The Allenby/King Hussein Bridge from Jordan to the West Bank, on the other hand, is an Israeli-run border crossing, and it is definitely the least inviting crossing I've ever been through.
Israel, and the USA, make a big deal about being representative democracies and champions of human rights. Anytime their deeds don't match their words, criticism is warranted. The Saudis and other monarchy/dictatorships in the middle east don't make any such pretense.
It is a violation of military law for Israeli citizens to enter the Palestinian Territories, full stop. That is why many never visit, as it means severe penalties without trial. As a foreigner who crossed in and out, it is still unpleasant, particularly with Palestinians with Jerusalem plates (those fortunate enough to have free passage). The kind of asshole-ish behavior rivals the TSA.
If anything, that should make the TSA embarrassed.
This isn't even a new development. Back in the 70's and 80's my father had two passports, issued precisely to prevent being constantly detained and/or harassed when traveling.
His work took him to relatively long visits (anything up to 4 months, but usually just 2-3 weeks) to about half the countries in Arabian Peninsula and roughly 1/3 of the countries in Africa. (I've been told that I met the Namibian foreign minister when I was 3 and surprised him by apparently trying to sing their national anthem.) During that same time, my father also had to occasionally travel to US and, I believe, Israel. One of the passports was used when traveling in Arabic and (communist) African countries. The other was reserved for rest of the world.
I've been later informed that this practice was not as uncommon as I would have believed. People working "in the field" for industries that were involved in development aid projects did sometimes have multiple passports, for the very reason of making their constant travels easier.
You are probably right. Given the MOU with Israel, there are restrictions certainly for other governments.
Those restrictions include, presumably, that they agree that among eachother they promise not to read achothers' emails, and furthermore if they do this and use the information to spy on our government, they promise to do so discretely....
The only thing welcoming of landing at Arlanda is that my 3G data starts working again, and I have access to Eduroam. Arriving from ex-Schengen, especially at the non F-pier gates (due to the small passport control where you have to go up 3 flights of stairs and then down), isn't very welcoming at all.
> The insinuation being that the US is the only country doing this?
Can you please make up your mind? Either Americans are "exceptional" and this is "the best country in the world", or not. If not then I don't think its okay to hate on others when they are upset with things happening on this soil.
As we all know things in US go downhill since a while. This issue would not suprise in Russia in 80s or on Cuba, but if US is exceptional then it will be judged by exceptional rules. In this case it shows US fails miserably on "land of the free, home of the brave".
The organization should have a number of laptops designated solely for international use. They should be restored to the org's "gold image" and kept "in stock" and available.
Prior to leaving on an international trip, the traveler "checks out" a laptop from I.T. for the duration of his trip. No personal or business data should exist on the data at this point. Once destinated, the needed business data can be downloaded to the laptop over a secure VPN back to company HQ.
Prior to returning, the traveler will run a "clean up" script that I.T. has developed. This script will upload any business documents that have been created or obtained while outside of the U.S. back to company servers (over that VPN) and then wipe the data from the laptop. Alternately, the laptop could have a partition set up that, when booted to, starts the reimaging process (sorta like how consumer PCs have a "restore partition"). This would be done, obviously, before returning to the U.S.
When the traveler has arrived back in the U.S., s/he returns the laptop to I.T. who again image it with their gold image and store it for the next user who needs it.
It wouldn't be that difficult or that much of a PITA, IMO -- it all depends on how important the data is to the company. It would likely require a change in policy and some users would almost certainly complain about it. Oh well.
I've heard of companies that consider any electronics thats ever been taken to China to be no longer useable on the company network. Their approach is to consider those devices "disposable". If ou take a laptop to China, buy a replacement when you get home and give the old one away - its never to be connected to the internal network again.
More like all users would complain. Don't get me wrong, it sounds like like a good solution, but you would be amazed at the recalcitrance of users asked to do something new or different. Plus, your infrastructure and user workflows have to be able to support such a setup. If a user who travels a lot is utterly dead in the water without his dozen 10GB email archive files, and the VPN is a tiny 1mb/s pipe for the whole globe, the above isn't a particularly viable idea.
The typical business traveler doesn't need gigabytes and gigabytes of documents. If you are traveling and need sensitive documents, buy a new laptop at your destination and load the data you need on it. When leaving, wipe it and leave it in a place where you or another employee can pick it up next time they are in that country.
It's unfortunate that business people (as opposed to programmers) typically don't have something as compact and transferrable as dotfiles for getting up and running on a branch new machine.
The question is how to travel with a new set of private keys securely so you don't give them up on exit. Coming back isn't a problem because you can just revoke access for that temporary public-private key pair before you log off during your last ssh session before returning to the country.
I don't think this is practical now. But it is a known problem and solutions for quickly getting a machine up and running are getting better and better. I imagine that a chef or puppet script could be used on the new machine to get everything up and running. You just need to ssh in once to fetch the script that would set up the machine at your destination.
It seems some of us have indeed left the old myth of the social contract behind us, just like we've abandoned the myth of the divine right of kings. Certainly easy air travel and mass communication has changed us, but I'd like to think it's our nation states who are not keeping up with the change.
Are you making an anarchical argument in which the entire notion of governmental authority and/or social contracts is discarded?
Or are you saying that nation-states are inappropriate sources of authority in preference for some sort of trans-national/global authority?
Regardless of what you want, the fact is that we still have nation states and their associated social contracts and a unilateral effort by an indvidual to disregard or violate those norms isn't without consequences.
There are certainly arguments to be made that some of those social contracts are perverse and one-sided in nature (e.g. North Korea as an extreme example).
What are the flaws in the typical 'Western' social contract that you would see fixed? what is your fix?
I think that many of the founders would probably be more upset by our reflexive resort to suppositions about what the founders would think in discussions of public policy than they would be upset (or supportive) of any particular policy that we find controversial.
They would be too appaled at general policy to worry about particulars for a while. "When we decided at least one congressman per 30,000 persons we were imagining, you know, one per 40,000. How can you possibly have a representative democracy like this? Wait, did you start a two-party system as well?"
> They would be too appaled at general policy to worry about particulars for a while
Yeah, see, this kind of thing is mostly just a way of projecting modern preferences on to the founders. If you look at the founders as a whole, you see very little consensus on general policy.
Hamilton and Jefferson, for example, didn't agree on much (and certainly not on what government of the United States should look like beyond "more like the Constitution than the Articles of Confederation".) To the extent that "the founders" would be shocked by (or even "opposed to" -- they had familiarity with enough extremes in government that they probably wouldn't be shocked by much) features of our present government, they wouldn't be the same features for different founders, and the features some of the founders opposed, others would probably find the most desirable.
Hamilton -- who wanted Presidents and Senators to serve, like members of the Supreme Court, for life, would probably be generally pleased with the way the power of incumbency works out so that short of major scandal, turnover is not all that common (and be displeased with Presidential term limits being written into the Constitution.)
Jefferson, OTOH, might well see things 180-degrees the opposite, given his keen focus on the need for periodic renewal.
> Wait, did you start a two-party system as well?
The two-party system was well in place by Washington's second election, most of the founders were still alive and active in politics -- and, for that matter, provided the leadership for both factions.
So, no, I don't think they'd ask that question, except perhaps as a result of senility. They started a two-party system.
I agree that Alien & Sedition is a cheap shot (as would be "Lincoln suspended habeas"). It would be interesting for someone to dredge of examples of targeted surveillance and arrest policy from the time of the founders; I bet there's good stuff. You can find metadata surveillance policy in the mid-1800s!
The first is whether the Verizon warrant would have been considered ok to the founders. The answer is an easy "no." We have there essentially a general warrant, something they were quite familiar with and which they put in prohibitions regarding in the 4th Amendment. There is no serious question that the founders would be deeply concerned over the existence of such a warrant and nearly entirely opposed to such.
However the harder question would be whether the Founders would have found the surveillance authorized by the warrant to be problematic even without a warrant or what they would have thought of the warrant. That's the big question and I don't have an answer there. I do think that the programs would almost certainly have been extremely controversialin part at least due to the existence of secret courts and wide-ranging warrants.
The difference is that this "plenary power" to search at the border has different implications today now that people carry their whole lives around with them on their phones. But that seems to me to be a fault of the people rather than a fault of the law.
...a fault of the people rather than a fault of the law.
An entire philosophy of government, in a nutshell!
You know, it's actually OK to change laws that are bad for the people. For example, three of the four Alien & Sedition Acts were allowed to expire within three years (the fourth is only in force during declared wars), since no one actually liked them.
"Michigan" isn't a border zone. You might be referring to what I think is probably an urban myth about the "100 mile Constitution free zone stretching inward from every border", which is not a fact of law (and was in fact explicitly refuted by SCOTUS in the '70s).
Show me a country that does not reserve to itself the right to carry out border inspections (and if you're going to mention the EU, that change is only recent and by treaty, effectively making Europe into a single country of multiple states). As long as there have been borders there have been smugglers, and as long as there have been smugglers there have been customs agents. This is especially true of the US, because before the 16th amendment and the creation of income tax, import duties were a primary source of government revenue.
EU being "a single country of multiple states" is purely a myth.
First, you are refering to Schengen Area, which is a subset of the EU.
Second, and more importantly, several countries, such as France, keep "special cases" for border control within a 20KM buffer zone to the frontier. (and I believe a similar smaller range is applied to any train station receiving non-domestic trains). Look at a map of EU, look at France, and you'll quickly see that, with its central position, France is a basically a big "border control area"...
"By agreeing to settle the case, the DHS avoided either any new appellate precedent limiting its borders search authority, or any judicial review of the specific basis for its actions with respect to Mr. House. As in other cases, the DHS treated the threat of judicial review of its actions as the ultimate danger to be avoided at all costs, even if that required destroying evidence it had previously claimed was vitally needed."
"TECS was the first pre-DHS database of Federal government logs of international travel. Several other “systems of records” (a term of art used in the Privacy Act) about travelers, including the Automated Targeting System (ATS) and DHS copies of PNR data (airline reservations) were originally considered part of TECS. The TECS file for an individual traveler typically includes a log of their border crossings (with record locators that serve as pointers to their PNR data ) and free-text notes on anything that customs and immigration inspectors thought warranted inclusion in the traveler’s permanent file."
It's more surprising that DHS keeps copies of the PNR data. The passport/visa stuff is acceptable but you can tell a lot more about someone from PNR data. Who they travel with, payment information, itinerary, changes in travel, medical conditions, baggage, services, it goes on and on.
questioned him about his political activities and beliefs
confiscated his laptop computer, camera and a USB drive
If this happened to a computer scientist abroad, say Moscow airport, there would be a storm coming from the western media about oppressive regimes and human rights. Possibly even a condemnation from the US government.
I heard this quote earlier this week during a discussion about the failure to stop the Naval Base shooter. He should have been picked up or at least been on someone's radar well before killing 13 people.
"When we're watching EVERYBODY, you'll never catch ANYBODY." which made a lot of sense to me. It seems like these agencies are trying to watch everybody in an effort to catch one lone person without considering any supporting data. Thus, you end up with scenario's like this where innocent people are being caught up in this wide net their casting.
That's quite disingenuous... He was tasered and restrained because he had become unruly and destructive.
Certainly the situation could have (and should have) been handled better, and the RCMP should have only tasered him once, but to call it murder, and specifically to say it's because he didn't speak english, is a blatant falsehood.
So they sent him through a different customs agent, who took a cell phone he voluntarily gave to them, and then let him go... Doesn't sound particularly awful.
Anyhow, they probably suspected he was going to work illegally in Canada (plenty of people come as visitors and work illegally), and wanted to make sure that those weren't his plans.
Edit - furthermore, having any sort of sensitive information on a cell phone is idiotic, since they are far from secure. It's not terribly difficult to hack any device with physical access - and it's not hard to simply lose your cell phone...
4 hours? Unless I misheard, he mentioned he waited in the queue for an hour, and then waited on the agent for half an hour.
If you've ever flown into Toronto when it's busy, you can spend longer waiting on the normal queue in customs... Is that detainment too?
I'm sure if he wanted, he could have gone back the other way. He didn't need to enter Canada. At no point in the podcast did he describe anything that could actually be called 'holding' or 'detainment'....
Alot of my friends did the oppostie. American employers pay higher wages for professional labour than those in Canada. Most americans travel to study in Canada. Canadian economy is quite conservative, maybe thats why it fared ok in last recession.
Unfortuately people are very risk averse here, and like many VCs(according to PG) they don't exactly understand the tech their investing in. I guess SV or the US in general have investor class that can take risks.
Personally for political reasons I will stay in Canada, but finding investors for my startup is going to be difficult.
Lucikly Intel will save the day for me.(fingers crossed).