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Examining the Search and Seizure of Electronics at Airports 699

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-iphone-is-a-threat-to-national-security dept.
Angus McKraken brings us a Washington Post story about how travelers are seeking more well-defined policies and rules about the search and seizure of electronic devices by U.S. Customs officials. The EFF has already taken legal action over similar concerns. We recently discussed the related issue of requiring people to disclose their passwords in order to search their private data. From the Post: "Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda, said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen, said the agent told her he had 'a security concern' with her. 'I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight,' she said. 'I was assured that my laptop would be given back to me in 10 or 15 days,' said Udy, who continues to fly into and out of the United States. She said the federal agent copied her log-on and password, and asked her to show him a recent document and how she gains access to Microsoft Word. She was asked to pull up her e-mail but could not because of lack of Internet access. With ACTE's help, she pressed for relief. More than a year later, Udy has received neither her laptop nor an explanation."
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Examining the Search and Seizure of Electronics at Airports

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2008 @08:59AM (#22369220)
    Y'all just keep on sleepwalking, the government is taking care of everything...
    • by Raven42rac (448205) * on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:23AM (#22369370)
      I took a flight once from Dulles to Dublin. They told me my laptop tested positive for nitro glycerin. I said "so?" They said "well nitro glycerin is in a lot of hand lotions" "Then I used hand lotion." The TSA is really hit or miss. I had to take off my flip flop sandals at Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans. "You call these shoes?" "They're footwear" And they were patting down a disabled WWII vet in a wheelchair. I told the fresh out of high school kid that he should be embarrassed. That old guy obviously hates America. You're really at their mercy though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Two of us flew out of Denver a couple of years ago during the ski season. My skis tested positive for explosives - normal if it has snowed recently and they have been triggering avalanches - and my friend's ski boots tested positive.

        The boots were in her suitcase. The guys got to rummage through her underwear. She was *not* amused. I understand female celebrities tend to mail their underwear home for just that reason.

        This theft of laptops at airports is in a different class though, those guys have been
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by matria (157464)
        that's glycerine in hand lotion. Somebody is pulling somebody's finger here.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycerol [wikipedia.org]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitroglycerin [wikipedia.org]
      • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @10:28AM (#22369838)
        And they were patting down a disabled WWII vet in a wheelchair.

        You've never seen "Day of the Jackal" (the oringal version)? The asassin has a sniper rifle broken down and made into a set of crutches, for an old war veteran...

        If you;re going to search people at all, you really should be searching people with large pieces of metal piping, no matter what medals they're wearing.

        Yeah, I know, a "movie threat". Still, profiling people to wave through is as bad as profiling people to give a hard time to. Both allow an enemy to game the system

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Scrameustache (459504)

          And they were patting down a disabled WWII vet in a wheelchair.

          You've never seen "Day of the Jackal" (the oringal version)? The asassin has a sniper rifle broken down and made into a set of crutches, for an old war veteran...

          If you;re going to search people at all, you really should be searching people with large pieces of metal piping, no matter what medals they're wearing.

          Perfectly cromulent, but you'll notice that they didn't search the tubing in the wheelchair, they patted down the old man.

          As an aside, they should know better, I've seen a dwarf on TV [mattroloff.com] tell TSA agents that they should search his wheelchair, and that he's kind of insulted that they assume he's not a threat because he's a dwarf with bad knees.

        • by Idiomatick (976696) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @12:29PM (#22370806)
          Honestly i am curious how effective a sniper rifle would be on a plane.
      • by stuff and such (980278) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @01:08PM (#22371222) Homepage
        My favorite airport story still comes from my dad. He has metal pins in his ankle from a car wreck many years ago. He had done the usual 'take the shoes off' and as they waved the wand around his bare foot, it goes off. Dad says "there are metal pins in my ankle", airport genius says "can you take them out?"
      • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @03:30PM (#22372512)
        That old guy obviously hates America.

        He probably does hate what it's become. That veteran probably knows better than anyone born after the War just how much we've thrown away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:06AM (#22369254)
    . . . this is all part of that One Laptop Per Child thingie . . .happens all the time at airports, or roadside checkpoints in Africa . . .

    . . . nothing new here, move along, sans laptop . . .
  • by OldBaldGuy (734575) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:06AM (#22369258)
    If you RTFA, the examples appear to be cases of traveling while being Muslim, Middle Eastern or Asian. Any examples of Nordic blondes or Irish Redheads getting the same treatment?
    • by PetriBORG (518266) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:30AM (#22369410) Homepage

      Either Muslim, or Middle Eastern, or South Asian too... But yeah I'd agree it would appear that its racial.

      What I think is maybe most disgusting though is that we're so pathetic as to accept this abuse. I travel to Asia with my wife - who is Chinese - quite a bit and the TSA and Customs people are always the worst. All I'm interested in is getting to my destination, but we all have to be treated like sheep to these people!

      I've always avoided bringing the laptop on the plane because of weight, but they are even going after iPods and cell-phone data - going as far as to copy all of your contacts, call history, and take the SIM chip out of your phone. How am I supposed to call for a ride because my phone won't work w/o the SIM chip in it...

      I can always use dm-crypt or true-crypt on my laptop but how the hell am I supposed to deal with them taking my terrorist iPod and phone? God forbid I try and bring an iPhone on the plane!

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:32AM (#22369422) Homepage
      Nordic Blondes and Irish redheads get frisked pretty throughly. If they are very large breasted then we have to really check them over, make them get naked, take photos, oil them up and take more photos, etc...

      it's all in the name of security! If we did not do this terrorists would be blowing up EVERYTHING!!!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Escogido (884359)

        Nordic Blondes and Irish redheads get frisked pretty throughly. If they are very large breasted then we have to really check them over, make them get naked, take photos, oil them up and take more photos, etc...

        it's all in the name of security! If we did not do this terrorists would be blowing up EVERYTHING!!!!
        Every-one, not every-thing. Remember, we are talking about Nordic blondes and Irish redheads blowing here.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:41AM (#22369472) Homepage
      I was going to say, I thought the rules were perfectly clear: You are searched like crazy if you're coming from the Middle East, North Africa, or South Asia, or your name is Mohammed or Hussein, or you look vaguely Muslim.

      Of course, DHS can't actually say those rules, so instead they give out some bull about "random selection".
      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:56AM (#22369554)
        For what it is worth, you see examples of both being hit in this thread-- the example of the disabled elderly vet above being one.

        Let's not make it about race-- it is about seizure of property without cause.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ScrewMaster (602015)
          Let's get right to the core ... not only is this not about race, as such, it's not even about property (the Feds couldn't care less about some used pieces of consumer electronics.) It's about the information stored in them. That's what they want, for any of a number of reasons. Whether it be terrorist plans, corporate info of one kind or another, or for that matter any examples of copyright infringement they can find (and, of course, any good porn) it's all about the data. They've said as much: it's intelli
        • by Scrameustache (459504) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @11:36AM (#22370364) Homepage Journal

          For what it is worth, you see examples of both being hit in this thread-- the example of the disabled elderly vet above being one.
          Tokenism refers to a policy or practice of limited inclusion of members of a minority group, usually creating a false appearance of inclusive practices, intentional or not. Typical examples in real life and fiction include purposely including a member of a minority race (such as a black character in a mainly white cast, or vice versa) into a group. Classically, token characters have some reduced capacity compared to the other characters, and may have bland or inoffensive personalities so as to not be accused of stereotyping negative traits. Instead, their difference may be overemphasized or made "exotic" and glamorous.

          "We're not doing racial profiling! Look, we're searching a disabled veteran, out of the dozens of brown people we searched today! See?"
    • by MadMidnightBomber (894759) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @10:33AM (#22369870)
      UK international development minister Shahid Malik, was detained on the way back from a series of meetings in Washington on combatting terrorism. You really couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_yorkshire/7066944.stm [bbc.co.uk] )
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vmxeo (173325)
      You mean like this [sott.net]? Or do you want to limit it just to data seizures?
  • by Aranykai (1053846) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (resnogls)> on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:10AM (#22369282)
    Lets see them figure out how to access Microsoft Word without their fancy "Start" button.
  • Decoy Data (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:14AM (#22369306) Homepage Journal
    Mobile devices have very large storage, which can be compressed to varying degrees at will, better than 50% averaged across all data types. It wouldn't be very hard to make a filesystem (or other storage type) for any of them that stores an equal amount of fake data, with a fake password, with everything compressed in the same space as an uncompressed set of real data. Such a filesystem could look just like a real filesystem in every way, including total size, but hide the real data behind fake data and fake password. If it's all encrypted, it would be very hard to tell the difference, especially in an airport screening line.

    Of course, that would probably violate some law. And "only the bad guys" would do it. But if those bad guys actually have something to hide that also violates those security laws, then of course they'll break that law's "coverup" prohibitions, too.

    Terrorist and other criminal orgs with enough resources to be a real threat, and carry notebooks and phones around on flights they don't just blow up, will be able to afford such a filesystem. And once there is one in the wild, anyone will get it, probably for free.

    So this is yet another stupid simcurity (simulated security) measure. It's intimidation of everyone to scare us into thinking our government is "doing something severe" to terrorists, when it's just abusing our own freedom. While wasting everyone's time, eroding our trust of our government, and letting the terrorists go free.

    Sounds like they're already using sophisticated decoys at DHS: fake security to hide the dangerous absence of any real security.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ocbwilg (259828)
      There's a simple fix to this. TrueCrypt supports hidden volumes. So you create a TrueCrypt encrypted volume, say of 2GB in size. Then you put a couple megabytes of data in it. Then you create the hidden volume within the encrypted volume, and put your real private data in there, using a different passphrase to encrypt the two volumes.

      Now when someone looks at your hard disk they see a single 2GB encrypted volume. They can get your password and decrypt that volume, but they can't see the second encryp
  • Can you do this? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yabos (719499) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:17AM (#22369332)
    If you don't want your stuff taken can't you just tell them to fuck off and leave the airport. That is if you're in your own country I mean.
    • by MichaelKaiserProScri (691448) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:25AM (#22369380)
      I am unclear if that is being offered as an option. If I cannot take my laptop with me on a business trip, there is no point in doing the trip. I am a Software Engineer and my laptop is the primary tool with which I do my job. If I do not have it, I cannot work. Furthermore, in many cases the contents of my laptop are far more valuable than the device itself. As far as I am concerned, the device is disposable, the data is what is valuable. Yes, I keep a backup, but there is always that last little bit I have just done that is not in the backup yet....
    • by localroger (258128) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:32AM (#22369420) Homepage
      And I'm pretty sure you don't get your airfare back. And you probably get on a list that makes sure it will happen every single time you ever try to fly again in the future. The stupid thing here is she did everything they asked, and they still stole her laptop. I can't see any rationalization for that.
  • by ms1234 (211056) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:21AM (#22369352)
    What a great way to find out about company secrets. And if they are on an encrypted volume? Dare you travel there anymore?
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:24AM (#22369374)
    where a traveler would be better off shipping his or her laptop separately rather than trying to take it on a plane. This is starting to get out of hand: confiscating personal property without cause? What the Hell? The government must be running short on laptops, I guess. Twenty years ago I'd have said this could never happen here, if anyone had asked. Sorry to see that I'd have been wrong.

    In 1984, I remember my aunt flew from Chicago to Boston, with a .44 Magnum and a box of cartridges in her suitcase. Nobody noticed, nobody cared, she didn't even think twice about it (I'll tell you though, had there been any boxcutter-wielding bastards on that plane she'd have killed them all. You don't know my aunt.) Can you imagine trying that today? One group of Islamic assholes causes some damage and just look at what we've done to ourselves.

    I'm still proud of my country but not as much as I used to be. That bothers me. What also bothers me is that bad behavior on the part of the TSA and other government organs is in danger of becoming institutionalized, which will make it very difficult to eliminate.
    • by crossmr (957846) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @01:34PM (#22371464) Journal
      "I'm still proud of my country"

      I'm not trying to troll here, but why?
      America might have once been great, but what's really happened there in the last 10 years, 20 years to be proud of? Scandal after scandal, poor social policy after poor social policy, increasing ignorance and almost xenophobia, patent trolling, enron, cops abusing people (AND nothing being done about), civil liberties washed away, copyright madness, etc, etc. I'm sure there have been the odd medical and scientific advance but I'm not allowed to have a free though about those without paying a royalty to some major company.

      When I was a teenager I used to think it would be cool to move to the states. Wages were so much higher, a better climate, etc.
      Now I have to fly there occasionally for work, and I dread it.

  • by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:29AM (#22369404) Homepage
    When he took it and you were "guaranteed" you would get it back in a few days, ask for it in writing, on headed paper, signed by the guy who took your laptop and his supervisor.
  • by rpp3po (641313) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:30AM (#22369408)
    Can't believe this happening in a country which promotes itself as a global exporter of freedom. Do Americans just sit at home and watch this as just another ironic comedy on their TVs?
    • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @02:43PM (#22372120)
      Is this the United States or some banana republic?

      Being that the term 'banana republic' came into existence as a direct result of U.S. foreign policy and illegal wars, it should come as no surprise that one would find the parent specimens of such abusive practices in the land which created them.

      The U.S. used its foreign policy and semi-secret operations to crush budding democratic nations in order to reward American business, in this case, sugar and banana plantation owners, who basically wanted to use slave labor rather than pay fair wages to the locals. It still happens today. Venezuela is currently undergoing the same treatment where the U.S. government, big business and the CIA are doing everything in their power to cast Chavez as a villain and install a pro-American business military government. They're probably going to get away with it, too. The media in Venezuela are all pro-evil, big media owners being what they are. Chavez wanted the peasantry to own their own land and have a say in politics, have access to decent schooling and medical care and generally get out from under the boot heel of slavery. The horror! It's bad for business when your peasants are educated and strong. --Research the story, but stay away from the big American news outlets to do it; they're all a bunch of whores.

      If U.S. business and government are going to use such practices abroad, then you'd better believe that they're going to try to get away with as much of the same thing at home as they possibly can.

      So yes, the U.S. IS some banana republic. It's the mother ship of banana republics. Don't let all the shiny formed plastic fool you.


      -FL

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:32AM (#22369428) Homepage
    Each component of the system, that is supposed to be separate, is in bed with those it is supposed to be a check against. This wouldn't surprise anyone who has paid attention to the way that police officers are treated by judges and prosecutors, especially in "liberal areas" for abusing their authority. In places like Northern Virginia, one of the bluest parts of the country, the prosecutors won't touch a cop who shoots and kills someone in a criminal way while on duty. The very argument for giving them their extra powers over the public is that they're professionals with how they use it, and yet they're more likely to be treated like a well-meaning retarded child with a handgun rather than a professional for whom human error should almost invariably be regarded at first blush as criminal negligence.

    The prosecutors will rarely try them, the judges will rarely sanction prosecutors who do things like hound a guy they know is innocent, etc. Why? Because in general, the people in law enforcement, the DA's office and the judiciary are bad apples, with a few good ones mixed in. This applies to federal agencies as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by green1 (322787)
      Here it's almost the opposite, if a police officer makes a mistake (either on, or off duty) they prosecute more fully than any criminal, just to avoid the appearance of corruption.

      There was a case here a few years ago of a police officer who was attacked by a prisoner in a cell, he shot and killed the prisoner, the cop claimed self defence (that the criminal had grabbed for his gun and was shot in the struggle over the weapon). The case went to trial 3 times before the cop was finally convicted (first 2 cas
  • Good! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:34AM (#22369438) Homepage
    This is a very good thing.

    Not only will it promote the whole idea of Freedom and help spread democracy in a non violent way, but as a result we will see that people will stop carrying around laptops or other portable storage devices.

    And THAT is a good thing. We will soon see a sharp decline of missing or stolen sensitive personal or company data, so this is good for our privacy.

    Instead people will start using VPN to get to their data.
  • by bazorg (911295) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:38AM (#22369462) Homepage
    interesting quote from TFA: Your kid can be arrested because they can't prove the songs they downloaded to their iPod were legally downloaded. Oh goody, when I immigrated to the UK I brought the MP3s but left the CDs behind. Got to remember leaving all music behind if travelling to the USA.

    Oh, and my laptop might be tricky to search... I wonder what procedures they have in place for people travelling with computers running alternative operating systems or simply in a language the officer cannot understand. 200 translators waiting behind the security booth? sounds practical.

  • by krischik (781389) <krischik@NosPaM.users.sourceforge.net> on Sunday February 10, 2008 @09:43AM (#22369478) Homepage Journal
    Well one more reason for me to remove the US off possible holiday destinations. Of course the poor guy was on a buisiness trip and had no choice.

    Martin
  • by Dielectric (266217) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @10:01AM (#22369600)
    In the article, it says that Radius went to an encrypted network to access company data. Given the recent news of stolen laptops, and the ensuing uproar over the data contained on them, it seems to me that everyone should take this approach. There are very few places that I go in the course of business that don't have some kind of network access. Even the hot dog stand down the street has free wifi, for crying out loud! Of course, you need an access scheme sufficient to keep thieves and DHS agents out of your database, but that's a solved problem with revocable certs, etc.

    The note about going through the recent documents log and browser history has me concerned, though. I may set the defaults on my work machine to never-save on the history. I can think of any number of services to archive bookmarks online. The idea here is that your travel machine may be lost, stolen, broken, or compromised at any time, and we should behave as such.

    It sucks that we have to protect ourselves from unreasonable search and seizure by our government, but we'll just have to deal with it for now. Not to get off on a rant here, but I think the Second Amendment should be interpreted to include strong encryption. The writers of the Constitution put that in there as a safeguard against jackbooted government thugs. In today's world, I see no political difference between a Kentucky Long Rifle and AES-128.
  • by EdIII (1114411) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @10:35AM (#22369894)
    The US has always seemed to be in the business of exporting freedom to other countries. Apparently we are exporting too much of it, especially since 2001. Maybe we need to create some more locally?
  • by Shohat (959481) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @10:37AM (#22369912) Homepage
    Nowadays, people who could have made a real change by marching in the streets, burning tires and protesting these horrible things, simply type away furiously, and think that someone cares.
    The Internet is a microscopic, meaningless medium for message delivery, and nothing proves it better than Ron Paul. You want to make a change? Stop blogging, making videos and writing articles, and start fighting with legislation, with money, with burning tires and real 100,000 people marches. The Internet created this idiotic illusion that a bunch of people supporting each other can make a difference. Well here's your fucking wake-up call. Reality has not changed.
    I am not from the US, and what's "worse" I am from Israel, but it saddens me to see your nation giving up so many values that has made it great.
    AND IT'S YOUR FUCKING FAULT, BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING.
    • You're mistaken. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by raehl (609729) <raehl311@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Sunday February 10, 2008 @11:21AM (#22370260) Homepage
      You don't burn tires because burning tires, by itself, does anything. The government doesn't care how many tires you burn. They just shoot you with rubber bullets (or real bullets, or fire hoses) and move on.

      You burn tires because when you burn tires and the government shoots you, you get in the newspaper, and the article talks about what act of the government you found so egregious that you picked a sure-to-lose fight with its better-armed agents.

      There's a reason we don't use fire hoses anymore - and it's not because (directly) it's inhumane. We don't do it because it generates too much press.

      The internet lets you have the same effect as burning tires without having to get shot first. The real media is lazy. They don't want to have to go down to the National Mall every time somebody burns a tire any more than you really want to go down there and burn tires. They would much prefer to sit in their comfy office, read blogs, and report on what people are blogging about. You can get the same press with blogging nowadays as you can get with tire burning.

    • We're lazy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by michaelmalak (91262)
      We in the U.S. are fed a steady diet of public education, American Idol, and high fructose corn syrup. I.e. we're lazy. Before the Internet, we couldn't have been bothered to even go to the library, not that there would be any information there after the government (which owns the library) sanitized it. The Internet has woken up 10% of the U.S. population. Blogging is hard work and takes a lot of research. A whole new generation is educating themselves, where public schools had tried to dumb them down.
  • by theophilosophilus (606876) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @11:01AM (#22370110) Homepage Journal
    Heres a good article [computer.org] from the IEEE Computer Society entitled "Setting Boundaries at Borders: Reconciling Laptop Searches and Privacy." The article discusses United States v. Arnold Federal [uscourts.gov] and other precedent. Arnold, a federal district court opinion on a motion to suppress evidence, appears to have come out the right way. To add my own 2 cents, why would the fear of contraband be more intense at the border when the speed of information transfer on the internet has made such concerns all but irrelevant?
  • by $kr1p7_k177y (208396) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @11:50AM (#22370456)
    These same invasive procedures have been in place in Israel for years. If you're "Flagged" by Airport security, they confiscate your Laptop, Phone, and Camera, and proceed to copy all of the media. It's invasive and unjustified - Just an excuse to feed their intelligence machine.

    I guess that's just the cost of "democracy" in the Middle East.

  • Encrypt Everything (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @11:57AM (#22370534)
    This is the SECOND time I've posted this advice:

    Use Linux
    Use and encrytped drive.
    Have a "functional" environment that is unencrypted that has nothing more challenging than an email about how you think U.S. government is doing everything right and how the shrub is gods ear piece.

    We need to do what the French did in WWII. When the Nazi's ask for your papers, make sure you show them nice pleasant things. Transmit everything back and forth over the internet (encrypted locally).

    The Nazi movement, or The Nazis began to take over the USA starting with Roy Cohn and Senator McCarthy in the '50s, through Nixon, Reagan, Bush I/II.

    Can ANYONE dispute that this description:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarianism [wikipedia.org]

    Does not describe what is becoming of the U.S.A, the U.K. and a lesser extent the rest of Europe?

    The irony is that while Hitler and his armies were defeated in WWII, the power brokers and players that created him live on in power.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zak3056 (69287)

      The Nazi movement, or The Nazis began to take over the USA starting with Roy Cohn and Senator McCarthy in the '50s, through Nixon, Reagan, Bush I/II.

      You're delusional.

      Not because of the point you're raising (I believe it's a valid one, though I would not use the word "nazi" to describe what is happening) but because you mentioned every republican administration after Eisenhower and left out every democratic administration. You're ignoring the fact that democrats controlled congress for most of the period t

  • by Snowdog (3038) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @01:04PM (#22371158)
    As the article states and the TSA has noted on their blog [tsa.gov], the searches and confiscations are being conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection [cbp.gov], not the Transportation Security Administration [tsa.gov].

    (Not that that makes it right, but it helps to identify the correct culprit when complaining to the powers that be or even when just spreading the story.)
  • 2008 Campaign (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @01:32PM (#22371440)
    So, why aren't more people asking the various presidential candidates what they intend to do to restore the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the rule of law once elected to office?
     
  • On data encryption (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fuji Kitakyusho (847520) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @03:06PM (#22372308)
    The importance of encrypting your data cannot be overstated. Even if you are not travelling with valuable intellectual property, the fact remains that most personal and business computers contain a wealth of information suitable for datamining. The oft quoted sentiment "If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear." misses the point - I DO have something to hide - everything, in fact. Nothing criminal or otherwise illegitimate, but in the interest of privacy, I have no desire to disseminate the details of my associations, my business activity, my financial transactions, my personal communications, my sexual activities, my political opinions or even what I had for breakfast this morning, to any party for whom that information was not intended. Ergo, I make a point of storing sensitive information (intellectual property, etc.) in strongly encrypted files, and then nesting those along with everything else within a fully encrypted drive. If I were particularly paranoid (and I'm paranoid enough to have thought of it, but as yet not so much as to have implemented it), I could ensure that the relevant cryptographic keys are unknown to me and only able to be retrieved either from my client or from my office remotely. I understand that this thread has to do with confiscation of hardware, and that in of itself is certainly annoying, and perhaps unpreventable barring a significant change of law; however, the value of a laptop computer is limited, and the hardware itself is replaceable. The same cannot be said of the data carried on it, and in the event my laptop is confiscated, lost or stolen, I would like the worst-case scenario to be that I or my company is out the replacement cost of the hardware only, without having to worry about trade secrets being compromised, identity theft, data mining for nefarious purposes or unauthorized dissemination of contact information. I run a dual-boot machine with Debian GNU/Linux and Windows XP Professional. If you really want to be entertained, watch an airport security "professional" try to navigate around a system with X disabled.
  • simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @05:19PM (#22373524) Homepage Journal
    Don't travel to the US.

    There is no way I'm going to hand over my passwords to a just-above-minimum-wage dofus. Not if it means I can't take that flight. Not going to happen. Since by whatever perverse application of your totaliarian laws they can force me to, the only solution is to avoid the US the same way anyone with a sane mind avoids any other place where the insane rule.

Your own mileage may vary.

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