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DHS Allowed To Take Laptops Indefinitely 1123 1123

andy1307 writes with a Washington Post story giving details of Department of Homeland Security policies for border searches of laptops and other electronic devices (as well as papers). (We have been discussing border searches for a while now.) DHS says such procedures have long been in place but were "disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter," according to the article. Here is a link to the policy (PDF, 5 pages). "Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed. Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption, or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement... DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies — which apply to anyone entering the country, including US citizens — are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism... The policies cover 'any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,' including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover 'all papers and other written documentation,' including books, pamphlets and 'written materials commonly referred to as "pocket trash..."'"
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DHS Allowed To Take Laptops Indefinitely

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  • Wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BluRBD!E (627484) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:12AM (#24430909)
    I feel bad for all the Americans who value their privacy. Unfortunately this has been the case in Australia for a while now. I remember the story of a Journalist/Author (I think) who was sent a copy of a book that contained a lot of classified information. The Australian police (unsure of division) went to her house, took her computer and smashed it in front of her. Lovely world we live in. I feel bad for our children.
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:15AM (#24430945)

    But...

    If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have to at least consider that it is a bird of the family anatidae (apologies to Douglas Adams)

    This is outrageous! and a 4th amendment violation.

    Hitler may have lost WWII, but the forces of fascism and totalitarianism are still fighting the war and are winning.

  • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:17AM (#24430967) Homepage
    They also cover 'all papers and other written documentation,'
    How the hell does this not violate the "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..." part of the 4th amendment, where is the SCOTUS case that ruled that US citizens upon returning to the US borders do not enjoy the protections of the constitution?
  • Simple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:18AM (#24430979)

    Don't give them any thing if you are citizen.

    When the try to take it from you, you are gonna have a fourth amendment field day with those asshats.

  • by Slashidiot (1179447) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:18AM (#24430991) Journal

    DHS officials said that the newly disclosed policies -- which apply to anyone entering the country, including US citizens -- are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism...

    My god. I can understand that they think those policies are necessary, but nobody can believe that is reasonable.

    "We can take everything you own and keep it as long as we want. Only if we feel like it. We think this is a reasonable exchange, you get to enter the country, we get to steal your stuff"

  • Toilet paper... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jrister (922621) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:20AM (#24431033)

    Its nice that government agencies regard the Constitution as toilet paper.

    What they fail to realize is that all their power originates with that document, and in a way, it's like a contract between the government and the people. Since the government has decided to violate the terms (breach of contract), then maybe we should stop recognizing their authority, since they have chosen to invalidate that document that is the sole source of that authority?

  • by honkycat (249849) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:21AM (#24431055) Homepage Journal

    Customs Deputy Commissioner Jayson P. Ahern said the efforts "do not infringe on Americans' privacy." In a statement submitted to Feingold for a June hearing on the issue, he noted that the executive branch has long had "plenary authority to conduct routine searches and seizures at the border without probable cause or a warrant" to prevent drugs and other contraband from entering the country.

    Perhaps it's just a poor characterization of his statements, but it appears that Mr. Ahern just doesn't get it. Regardless of what authority the executive branch has had, he needs a pretty damn strong argument as to why these efforts don't infringe on "Americans'" privacy. I can't think of any reasonable argument that they do not. Whether it's a *justified* infringement is a somewhat subtler question, but these powers are certainly subject to abuse. Further, even the obscenely few restrictions on preserving the data after the investigation is completed are little consolation in the face of the many stories of data mishandling by government entities. Mr. Ahern desperately needs to get a clue.

    Further, even as an American I take exception to the idea that it's only relevant for our government to protect "Americans'" privacy, as is implied by this quote. Again, it might be due to incomplete quoting, but I somehow doubt that. As a scientist who frequently works with international collaborators, it's really true that communities outside the U.S. are deciding to keep their business out of this country due to the ridiculous policies for entering. It's often just not worth the effort. Way to go, Executive Branch!!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:34AM (#24431265)

    My oh my

    I always wanted to see America. Spend some time in a few big cities, see what the beaches are like, have a good time.

    But I changed that idea a few years back, when they started trampling all over your privacy in all the little ways. There is NO WAY IN HELL I'm visiting America if I'm treated like a criminal/my privacy is being violated at will.

    What I was afraid of has happened, it only got worse. Seems like they're just importing Guantanamo rules to the mainland or something.

    How on earth is it possible that you Americans don't rise up against that? Protest? Get on the streets? Call out for a mass protest and let your voice be heard damned. They're getting away with it because nobody does anything about it!

  • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:37AM (#24431297) Journal
    Very little is an overstatement of how much they accomplish.

    The policies cover 'any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,' including hard drives, flash drives, cell phones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover 'all papers and other written documentation,' including books, pamphlets and 'written materials commonly referred to as "pocket trash..."'"

    We first, of all, that covers ANYTHING. If you can write on it, it can store digital and analog data. I know two friends of mine often use semi-long term markers on their palms because they are so forgetful, does that mean the Department of Homeland Security can take their hands? That regulation is WAY to broad.

    That being said, as another user pointed out. If you want to transmit illicit information out of country, there are plenty of ways to get it out without carrying with you. I'm not one to bypass rules and security, but it didn't take me two seconds to figure out how to deal with that, without even trying.

    Honestly, if they did catch anyone with this methodology, they would be smart release that person, and pretend not to have found anything, to keep their idiocy and corruption in the enemy genepool. It would be a darwinian favor to their opponents to keep the guy/gal. Also the guy/gal could (would?) inadvertantly lead them to a more productive cull from the enemies genepool. I'm speaking in gemerics with 'enemy' mostly because it's more than just the catch-phrase of terrorist they are searching for, I'm sure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:38AM (#24431307)
    and when they come for you, who will speak out? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came [wikipedia.org]...
  • by Erik (4118) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:41AM (#24431363)
    A coworker and I were discussing this at work the other day actually. If I have trade secrets on my laptop, would I be running afoul of Safe Harbor and possibly shareholder interests if I give them my encryption key?

    It may be that the SEC is the best avenue to challenge this. We just didn't think that starting a shareholder lawsuit against our company would be helpful to our employment status...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:45AM (#24431425)

    Does the old 'inspect' come with a silent 'and keep forever'?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:53AM (#24431541)

    As a scientist who frequently works with international collaborators, it's really true that communities outside the U.S. are deciding to keep their business out of this country due to the ridiculous policies for entering.

    Not only that, but as a personal example, I'm actively not even considering a vacation in the US, despite the kids wanting it. I guess the US economy is strong enough that lessening income from tourism isn't an issue. Right? Heh ... the arrogance and stupidity of the US administration is really quite fascinating.

    Now, if the administration could combine their apparent dislike of letting people into the country to spend money with an equal dislike of putting its own nose where it doesn't belong (i.e. everywhere else in the world), it would at least be consistent and have some goodness as a whole. But that's not on the table, is it?

    If it wasn't so sad, I'd be laughing. You who have to live there: You have my heart-felt sympathy.

    As for the fuck-tards who manage to come up with the insanities: Bah.

  • by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:58AM (#24431607) Homepage
    Does the constitution apply to even US citizens any more ? I am not so sure.
  • by techiemikey (1126169) on Friday August 01, 2008 @08:58AM (#24431617)
    So, if your in Canada, Canada's laws should protect you, right?
  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:02AM (#24431699)

    If you travel to and from the US, you are far, far more likely to be harmed in some way by the US Government.

    I am far more afraid of the US Government than any other entity. And I just walked through the Moslem quarter of the Old City as an Orthodox Jew the other week.

  • I would also assume that any private scientist who works on something would stay away from the US. Since they readily share any information with "their" own corps you can bet that any big breakthrough will "leak" to your biggest competitors in the US before you can say patent.

  • by jwiegley (520444) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:04AM (#24431739)

    Read past posts regarding the fourth amendment...

    First, A court (the judicial branch of the United States) has defined these searches to be reasonable. Thus the fourth amendment doesn't apply.

    Second, while rights are inalienable (another person cannot remove your rights) they are waivable (you can willingly give up your own rights.) you agreed to the search. There are signs all over the place at border entry indicating that all persons entering are subject to search and seizure. You may opt out of entering and therefore search and maintain your right (though in this case it doesn't apply because as I pointed out, the search is reasonable) but as soon as you enter you have agreed to be searched. Thus you have waived your fourth ammendment right.

    summary: You're screwed for two reasons. The search is reasonable and you agreed to be searched. I'm tired of hearing this argument come up on /. every month because somebody was inconvenienced and had their fantasy of a "right to privacy" challenged. This is a cut and dry situation. It would lose 0-9 if ever seen by the supreme court.

  • by NoobHunter (1090113) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:11AM (#24431859)
    *Cue the Empire Theme from Star Wars....*

    It's a sad state of afairs. They say that if you do not learn from history, you are doomed to repeat it. How many Major Powers in the history of Humanity died because their government thought they knew what was better for the people, even if it goes COMPLETELY against what people truly want.
    Rome, China, Russia, France and now the US is following in the footsteps.

    It's no longer IF the US will have a Bastille Day / Civil War pt. 2 but WHEN and WHAT will trigger it. I only hope that the reppercussions world-wide don't drag us into another Dark Ages...
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:11AM (#24431877) Homepage
    I think illiteracy is mostly the governments fault, because they are in control of education. The economy also has a lot to do with the government. But how is obesity a problem of the government? I realize there's a connection with corn subsidies, and large amounts of HFCS in food, but you don't have to buy that stuff. I think the problem with obesity and being out of shape falls solely on the individual. There's plenty of healthy food out there, and it's not overly expensive that most people can't afford it.
  • by colmore (56499) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:18AM (#24431999) Journal

    Now you're talking! Corporations might still have some rights as citizens in this society. Your company has been buying its fair share of campaigns for our glorious leaders, correct?

  • Re:The worst part (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PReDiToR (687141) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:32AM (#24432217) Homepage Journal
    I just visited the US, went to Vegas for two weeks and in the middle of that had 4 days in San Fran via domestic flight.
    Took two brand new Asus EEEPCs, one for me, one for my partner. All they had on them were my SSH keys and a copy of NX so that we could log in to my computer back home and transfer our journals and pictures there rather than risk losing them to this kind of "appropriation".

    We went through security at Manchester without a hitch. When we went through Mccarran to go to San Fran we got put in the TSA lane and got the explosives sniffer machine done to us:
    TSA: Lift your arms and stand still.
    (Air jets attempt to dislodge particles from our hair and clothes, then vacuum them into the sensors)
    TSA: Put your boots, belts, hand luggage in here, laptops in this tray.
    My laptops went through and the agent doing the security actually said "oh, those small Asus's"
    To which I replied, "yeah, very handy for travel, got them specially for the trip over here".
    Got them back, didn't even have to turn them on, my USB keys weren't searched, my SD cards likewise. My camera wasn't opened, the memory card wasn't inspected.

    I went to America with the expectation of having my goods and chattels molested by TSA, but aside from my GF's surgical implant setting the metal detectors off three times, we sailed through TSA three times.

    I'm not saying that TSA shouldn't have these powers, but even when you tell them that you're carrying spent pistol/rifle casings, they don't always give you a hard time. My clothes were covered in GSR, I had spent casings, two laptops, numerous memory cards, cellphones and a big knife (in checked luggage), nothing was out of the ordinary. My checked luggage wasn't even opened, I had a UV reactive cable tie on it, so it would have been cut had they searched the bags with the knife and casings in.

    Given these powers exist, and as an alien travelling through the TSA "interested" lane, I can say that they don't always use them. I would imagine that they are like any other police officer: Give them a hard time and they will make your life hard, because they can. Treat them like they are doing a necessary job and help them if at all possible and they will appreciate your "cooperation" and not waste your time and theirs.

    YMMV.
  • Isn't payment due? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oldsaint (736226) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:33AM (#24432225)
    The fifth amendment to the constitution provides that government taking of property, including temporary taking, requires fair market compensation to the owner. The routine examination for explosives at an airport security check would not require payment, but an extended taking of an electronic device, without individual suspicion, should require a payment of fair market rental value.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:49AM (#24432525) Journal

    There's really very little reason to fear Al-Qaeda at all. You're more likely to die crossing the street, or taking a shower. Maybe that burger you ate last night will be the one to push your cholesterol over the edge. To any rational person, terrorism in the US is simply not on the radar.

    The government on the other hand is right here, we interact with it every day. It's closer, and vastly more powerful than any terrorist. It does pose a real threat, and you should be afraid.

  • Re:The worst part (Score:2, Interesting)

    by revoltop (1333845) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:54AM (#24432631)
    Basically bend over and take it is what your saying . . . Yeah that's not very American. Some have mentioned the 4th amendment and I always wonder how the government can get people to simply give up all there private information without having to come into your house. It's called federal intrusion taxes or simply income taxes.
  • by silentcoder (1241496) on Friday August 01, 2008 @09:54AM (#24432633) Homepage

    Though I am in South Africa, not America.
    I was dating a girl in Brazil (I married her later) and my company had several major projects in Nigeria. So I had regular flights to both countries (and both are common drug routes around here). Add to this long hair and a liking for heavy-metal t-shirts - I ended up on a watch list (nobody would confirm this but it became pretty obvious).

    On my way out to see my girlfriend one time, I was searched on the plane (which they made late to do it) but my luggage was already in the hold and my hand luggage clean so they couldn't really finish the search.
    When I came back, I was arrested on site. My bags were searched and I had to explain almost every item. Not the easiest of those was a bottle of home-made spirit-vinegar I bought in a small country town in Brazil as a gift for my mother. Finally, convinced my luggage was clean (now I am already two hours late, my cellphone isn't charged and I cannot even contact my ride who is waiting outside the door for me) they decide I need to be X-rayed in case I swallowed condoms.

    So I wait. I finally convince the cop to at least let me talk to the person who is picking me up (my boss) - with him coming along, so three hours later my boss gets to find out why I didn't show (lucky for me - he was still there). We wait for another 2 hours. Meantime I am missing a major business deadline (which would end up costing me a small fortune) but me and my boss are talking shop about the various projects.
    Still the police who are supposed to take me to the state hospital for X-rays haven't shown up. Finally the border-cop (who has been hearing us talk all this time) says: "I'm gonna let you go - I'm sure you're clean now but we have to be sure and if I keep you any longer I'm going to start running risk of false arrest complaints."
    As he uncuffs me and I walk away I asked him: "So will you take my name OFF your watchlist now ?"
    Him: "Who said your name was on a watchlist ?"
    Me: "You picked me up at passport control by my name and face. You tried to search me on the way out as well. You kept me here for almost 5 hours while all the random screen cases were gone in 30 minutes, despite the fact that I was the only one who wasn't complaining and shouting at you for the annoyance and understood you are just doing your job. I know my regular flights include two well known drug routes over a three year period... you didn't have to SAY I'm on a watchlist - it's obvious."

    He didn't say anything. I dropped it after that, didn't feel like more hassle but I must tell you it was one of the most annoying experiences of my life.

    And the worst thing: planes always upset my stomach. I have no idea if this is because of the airline food or the airpressure but it does. Getting of that plane, the first thing I wanted to do was go to the little boys room for a little private meditation. I wasn't allowed to go to the loo (in case I flushed the evidence of swallowed drugs) - and I had to hold it in for five painful hours. I must tell you - many times during that wasted day I was tempted to just let it go, and leave them the mess to clean up.

  • Re:The worst part (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flitty (981864) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:08AM (#24432899)
    This might be a clue...

    Reasonable measures must be taken to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material, the policies say, but there is no specific mention of the handling of personal data such as medical and financial records.

    Sounds like I just found my next company to start...
    "Proprietary Wal-Mart Information" stickers for sale to put on your laptop! Very Official Looking. Keep your private data safe! Also available, A Tiny "Wal-Mart" branded OS that launches when your key sequence is not entered at startup that confuses TSA agents and lets you keep your laptop! Dummy files contain fake proprietary information. Included is instructions to deal with agents and how to protect your "business information".

    I'm heartbroken that policies explicitly cover "business information" without mentioning personal financial information, But i'm not really surprised at this point.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:12AM (#24432975) Journal

    Ship your laptop via UPS or Fedex to your destination, it's a lot cheaper to spend $125.00US to ship it next day air international than to replace it all when you get there because some DHS scumbag takes a shining to your laptop or wants to punish you because you dared question them.

    You realize that Customs can rip open your package and do whatever they want with your laptop?

    The only reason there are low odds of that happening is because customs is wildly understaffed compared to TSA. You're running a numbers game, but don't for a second think that international mail is any safer than hand carrying.

  • ACTA anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by plasmacutter (901737) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:22AM (#24433201)

    Why does this policy reek of MAFIAA influence?

    the mention of "or analogue" pretty much clinches it to me.

    whether through bits on flash or through punch chards, computer readable data has always been digital, represented discretely (analogue is analogue because it is not measured discretely)

    it's obvious they're referring to MAFIAA 'media' here, I don't see any other reasonable interpretation of that statement.

    We now know where the idea of border search and seizure of ipods and laptops came from in ACTA. It's already here.

  • by VdG (633317) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:36AM (#24433495)

    The USA has been off my list of desirable destinations for a while now. I'm not seriously worried that something dreadful would happen to me, but I am opposed in principle to some of the stuff I'd have to go through - fingerprinting for example - and wouldn't look forward to the hassle of it all. It took long enough last time I visited the USA, before 9/11; I'm not going to volunteer to subject myself to that if there's a more convenient alternative. Just as easy and pleasant to visit Canada, New Zealand or umpteen other places, if it's merely for a holiday.

  • Re:Constitutional? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mitgib (1156957) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:45AM (#24433673) Homepage Journal

    The DHS needs to be reigned in something fierce.

    No, the DHS needs to be dissolved as it should have never been created.

  • Re:The worst part (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jafiwam (310805) on Friday August 01, 2008 @10:45AM (#24433679) Homepage Journal

    "Cordite is a family of smokeless propellants developed and produced in the United Kingdom from 1889 to replace gunpowder as a military propellant."

    ^^ not to mention the brand name shares a name with a low explosive often found in artillery shells.

  • Comic Strip (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LatencyKills (1213908) on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:02AM (#24433969)
    I saw a comic strip a couple of years ago (I wish I could find a link to give credit) that seems very apt. It was just one panel, and in it an Uncle Sam character is at the gift wrapping counter at a store and there's a box on the counter labelled "New Law" and the guy behind the counter is asking how he wants that wrapped. He's got two types of paper "Protect the Children" and "War on Terror." How the fsck did we end up here?
  • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quattro Vezina (714892) on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:10AM (#24434093) Journal

    Y'know, this might be an interesting idea...

    Imagine if the passphrase to your key was the contents of a large binary on your system. Anyone trying to break it would just see a prompt asking for a passphrase; they'd never expect to have to do something like 'cat /usr/bin/mplayer | decrypt somefile'. No, they'd just run 'decrypt somefile' and try to type something in when prompted 'Enter your passphrase: '. And good luck brute-forcing it; you it'll take forever to brute-force a passphrase that size (/usr/bin/mplayer on my system is 8195KB...good luck brute-forcing that).

  • Re:ASUS EEE etc (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PReDiToR (687141) on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:33AM (#24434489) Homepage Journal
    The 4Gs I bought have an 800x480 screen, 4GB of SSD.
    It isn't enough. My family (still in Vegas due to illness) have one of these still in their possession to use for Skype(+Out) calls and email. It works fine if you have good eyes, but all three people have glasses and could really do with those extra couple of inches (couldn't we all?).
    I intend to find a fast USB key (8/16GB) to hardwire into mine to make the silly little /dev/sda obsolete.

    Once you decide that this size computer is acceptable to you the price of it then becomes a function of disposable income. I was more than happy with my HTC Universal for long enough. 64MB SSD, SDHC reader, 640x480 screen, 128MB RAM, WiFI and BlueTooth. Add 3G internet access into that and only the use you put it to will decide on which is the better machine. If there was an NX client for PocketPC I would have never needed the EEE.
    Note also that the EEE doesn't have MS tax on it, which was a selling point to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @11:37AM (#24434535)

    that millions of average Americans cheered these actions of the government, because they saw the anti-war protestors as troublemakers and traitors.

    The belief in compliance and obedience to authority runs so deep in a large part of the population that violent repression would be very popular.

    I was alive at the time of the Kent/Jackson shootings, and believe me, a lot of people were very happy that the protestors were finally "getting what they deserve"

  • Re:The worst part (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shakrai (717556) * on Friday August 01, 2008 @12:19PM (#24435343) Journal

    Even if you're not convicted of anything it still shows up on background checks done by employers as an arrest.

    As someone who was once charged with a crime he didn't commit I can tell you from experience that my state (NYS) seals all records of the arrest upon your acquittal or the dropping/dismissal of the charges against you.

    In my case it was a felony charge that went to Grand Jury. The Grand Jury refused to indict (thank god for the jury system...) so the DA had to drop the charges. Awhile later I received a court order directing the appropriate law enforcement agencies to seal all records of the arrest and destroy any copies of my fingerprints and/or photograph that they obtained from said arrest. The order also directed any agencies that may have received a copy of said items from the original police agency (i.e: the Feds) to do the same.

    As I recall the only exception allowed for in the dismissal order to unseal the arrest record related to the requirement that you disclose any arrests when applying for a NYS pistol permit. It made no exceptions for any agency to retain a copy of the fingerprints/photograph. They had to be destroyed.

    Why it doesn't work like this in other states is beyond me. A simple arrest should not show up in a background check without a subsequent conviction or at least an ongoing trial.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:02PM (#24436187)

    I know nobody cares, but more and more people are *actively* avoiding the US when travelling.

    fuck that - I'm a US citizen and I am actively avoiding LEAVING my country.

    for fear of the hassle factor of leaving, entering some other place (also, soon to 'enjoy' surveilance wishes upon its visitors) and then re-entering and having to 'plain myself, lucy' again and again to the marching morans.

    I have not taken a plane trip in years. I've been asked by my company to fly (in the US) for business and I have politely refused. they didn't push and they might have understood that no one is excited about flying anymore.

    the airlines suffer, hotels suffer, goodwill and understanding between countries suffers.

    I won't fly to the UK even though I've been there well over 10 times before. I used to love it. now I fear the thought of what the UK does to its visitors.

    things are bad all over. travel is now on my ban list unless its ABSOLUTEY needed. and 95% of the trips really are NOT needed!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2008 @01:24PM (#24436579)

    If you consider leaving, now is a good time. Yes, the rest of the world is expensive because the Dollar is on its way to becoming toy money. That makes your leave an especially strong statement: "I'll start with much less money in my new country but I don't care as long as I get out of here."

    Actually two months ago was the good time to leave. As of last month, it's officially too late [portfolio.com].

    The expatriation tax, courtesy of Charles Rangel (D) and signed into law by Bush (R), under the Orwellian-named "HEROES" Act and on the even more Orwellian-appropriate Fourth of July, imposes a very heavy tax on anyone leaving.

    Rangel tried four times to get this tax passed into law in 2007, and he finally got his way. The financial door's already been closed off. The only way out now requires that you pay tax as if you'd cashed in your entire IRA/401(k) and sold your house the day before you left.

    Cash-strapped failed states imposing capital controls to keep their citizens from taking their money and running. Surprise, surprise.

  • Re:The worst part (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Friday August 01, 2008 @02:46PM (#24438031) Homepage Journal

    Maybe I shouldn't have used the words 'be an ass' and said 'assert what you believe to be your rights'.

    Generally speaking, I'd prefer our constitutional court cases to be carefully selected to not have any factors to make the decision to restrict our freedoms easy. So you pick, as best as you can, a white knight type - both willing to fight and clean enough that he won't be easy to smear into irrelevance.

    Right now, I'm protesting the TSA in the forms of letters to politicians and boycotting flying as much as practicle. I'm not independently wealthy to fight something like this in the court system.

  • by davidsyes (765062) on Friday August 01, 2008 @04:21PM (#24440107) Homepage Journal

    Sometiems, a public announcement is made of the arrest. If the publicized court dockets/calendar are on the wall for all to see standing outside the courtroom, then what's to stop these things from getting into Google, Yahoo!, Lexis/Nexis-like databases (maybe you're a key officer of a company, dismissed for some false/improper charges, and make the news and the d/b rounds), and so on..

    Even if the courts expunge/seal records, many people will still be screwed if the DHLS accusations make it to court, even if the court finds you innocent, that Customs/Border Patrol agents overstepped the bounds of the law, and so on.

    What is really tragic is that we will never be told (public) the baseline parameters that DEFINITELY CAUSE a laptop/electronics confiscation, and how to avoid any anguish, and what are "questionable" so as to avoid being caught up.

    It's almost as if to speed things up (not losing one's electronics) "the government" is trying to coerce the public to be prepared to accept and "escrow" type of agency that will work on behalf of travelers. It might work something like this:

    -- Disclose your electronics to an entity that will create a fingerprint of the basic drive/media.

    -- Any data you create or edit should be done on OTHER, smaller, easier-to-inspect/copy media

    -- Make your fingerprinted media read-only while on travel if that is what it takes to help you speed through CBP

    Now, the questions arising might be:

    -- "How do we know they aren't recording the contents beyond just making a fingerprint file?"

    -- "Doesn't that make us react as if we're guilty without even being charged?"

    and so on.

    Well, if that's what it takes to avoid having my laptop "stolen" by agents (I KNOW I am not doing illegal things rising to the level of any CBP/FBI/CIA/NSA/local PD/RIAA/ to actually TAKE my laptop especially if it's stuff I could be asked to delete (say, i stumble upon a site and download a national security file, or browse a site and 2 or 3 porn/smut images end up in my cache...) an offending file.

    All i know is that i would not be annoyed one frackin' BIT if CBP is assailed by anyone innocent going ballistic on them. This is just PLAIN WRONG to allow any agency take things with no clear written rules, no advice on how to avoid being suspected, no way to know if our public commentary on this will make us targets of retaliation, and so on. I guess they're making many of us morph into "morbid curiosity bystanders" waiting to see someone (on our behalf/by non-contact extension) take them DOWN or take them TO TASK.

    Finally, I have NOT had any negative issues with taking my laptop to Japan in 04, and I did not have Customs ask to search me when I arrived back to SFO. However, because I spent a lot of time at Funenokagakukan, and because I visited Mitsubishi and talked about my drawings (maybe 15-20 minutes), and probably triggered an undercover NCIS officer to visit the hostel (pretending to be a guess, even bunking in the hostel, when purportedly he was stationed at Yokohama...), the Customs officer DID, after asking for my passport, run his thumb the lamination and the paper quite a bit of time (15 seconds maybe?) and his facial expression made me think he was told in advance to make damned sure it was ME actually RETURNING to the US soil. Not that I had a fake passport, but that they wanted to be SURE I did indeed depart Japan (a courtesy request by Japan? a US check-up to make sure I am back "home"?) AND return to the US...

    That said, I suppose if MY laptop is ever taken, it will be a great source of unbound rage and resentment. It would seen as a hostile act. And, even if I DO back up everything and have to buy a new laptop, it would be QUITE a major irritant, ESPECIALLY if my stuff (which has income-making potential for me) is taken and ends up on the street in someone else's name before *i* produce & sell in my name. I say they better QUICKLY devise an escrow/fast-pass type of system for private, non-business, non-diplomatic travelers. Prevention is better than a ham-fisted "cure".

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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