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Homeland Security Changes Laptop Search Policy 273

Posted by kdawson
from the beatings-will-continue-until-morale-improves dept.
IronicToo writes "The US Government has updated its policy on the search and seizure of laptops at border crossing. 'The long-criticized practice of searching travelers' electronic devices will continue, but a supervisor now would need to approve holding a device for more than five days. Any copies of information taken from travelers' machines would be destroyed within days if there were no legal reason to hold the information.'"
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Homeland Security Changes Laptop Search Policy

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  • 5 Days? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elzurawka (671029) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:15AM (#29232129)

    So, now they will just take away my laptop for 4 days. Good thing my flight is in two hours, and I am not back for 6 weeks...

    -EL

    • Re:5 Days? (Score:5, Funny)

      by zippthorne (748122) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:31AM (#29232387) Journal

      Well, obviously, you should have planned ahead and arrived at the airport one hundred twenty-three hours before your flight, to give yourself ample time to find parking and clear security. It's the responsible thing to do.

    • Re:5 Days? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Korin43 (881732) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:39AM (#29232481) Homepage
      And I'm sure we all believe that they'll delete their copy of your data..
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by IdleTime (561841)
        That is why my laptop contains nothing of interest whatsoever. Any interesting data is kept on encrypted partitions on an 1Tb USB based disk, normally placed safely in the checked luggage.

        They can take and keep my laptop all they want, I'll just hook up the real data disk to a new laptop and install Truecrypt and I'm good to go.
        • Re:5 Days? (Score:5, Funny)

          by gnick (1211984) on Friday August 28, 2009 @12:25PM (#29233129) Homepage

          ...normally placed safely in the checked luggage..

          You're apparently using a definition of "safely" with which I was previously unaware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      My understanding was that this was about when someone goes through Customs. That happens when you arrive in the country, not when you are getting on a flight.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by malloc (30902)

        My understanding was that this was about when someone goes through Customs. That happens when you arrive in the country, not when you are getting on a flight.

        It does, except when you come from Canada, where there's pre-flight customs clearance. And according to http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/view/m-2008-I-001/documents%5Ctop_20_countries.xls [doc.gov] Canada is the top country of origin when flying into the US, so it affects a large number of people.

        -Malloc

  • And since the Constitution only protects against *unreasonable* search and seizure, there is nothing wrong here.

    It's just a goddamned piece of paper.

    • by sabs (255763) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:21AM (#29232225)

      It's not at all reasonable. Frankly, there is no reason that the borders should be checking laptops. Why should they be allowed to withhold any media I have on me, be it paper or a laptop. If they want to make sure it's a laptop and not a fake bomb, thats one thing. But the contents of the laptop should be of no concern to them.

      • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:28AM (#29232321)

        It's our right as citizens to be secure. If your papers (computer) is dangerous, it is reasonable to seize it.

        From the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

        The right of the people to be secure...shall not be violated, and...Warrants shall issue...upon...particularly...the persons or things to be seized.

        • The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Did I just hear a woosh?

          • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

            by cbiltcliffe (186293)

            :-/

            Whoosh.

            Just.....whoosh.

            How you could miss that one, I have no idea.
            You weren't really paying attention, were you?

        • You should work for a news agency. I like your style of leaving out the unimportant parts of quotes. ;)
        • by kpainter (901021)

          It's our right as citizens to be secure. If your papers (computer) is dangerous, it is reasonable to seize it./quote. I want to be secure from people who think like you.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by sabs (255763)

          How exactly is my paper going to be dangerous?
          What could someone have coming into this country on a laptop that needs to be seized for any amount of time?

          • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:55AM (#29232691)

            How exactly is my paper going to be dangerous?

            You tell me, buddy.

            Why don't you just tell us what's on your computer? Why are you acting so suspiciously?

          • by jo42 (227475)

            How exactly is my paper going to be dangerous?

            That piece of paper may be a "financial instrument" AKA stock, bond or check that is worth something. That in turn might be used to fund drugs or heaven forbid, "terrorism". It might also be a piece of tissue that can be used, you know, to wipe your arse AKA "bio-hazard". Either way, they have to protect the [artificial man-made] nation from the evil bogeyman.

            • How exactly is my paper going to be dangerous?

              That piece of paper may be a "financial instrument" AKA stock, bond or check that is worth something. That in turn might be used to fund drugs or heaven forbid, "terrorism". It might also be a piece of tissue that can be used, you know, to wipe your arse AKA "bio-hazard". Either way, they have to protect the [artificial man-made] nation from the evil bogeyman.

              Of all the security checkpoints in all the border crossings in all the world, he had to walk into this one...

    • by madfilipino (557839) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:35AM (#29232411)
      The DHS has always held the belief (with the Supreme Court's backing) that people and their belongings at customs checkpoints at the airport (or at a border crossing) aren't within the country (yet), consequently, the constitution doesn't apply to "inspections" within those checkpoints. That gives the DHS and their goons all the leeway they want in "confiscating" or "inspecting" all the stuff they want for as long as they want.

      Does this press release change anything? Not really. It just lays some groundwork for more "routine" searches. Anything beyond that they have to give some bullshit reason ("national security") to keep it longer.

      What's to stop this bullshit agency from making a mockery of their press releases? I can guarantee you that the goons they have on the "front lines" haven't been told about this "press release".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The DHS has always held the belief (with the Supreme Court's backing) that people and their belongings at customs checkpoints at the airport (or at a border crossing) aren't within the country (yet), consequently, the constitution doesn't apply to "inspections" within those checkpoints.

        This is insane (as is the idea that there are a whole bunch of things which are perfectly fine to do in, say, Guantanamo Bay, which wouldn't be OK to do in the US). The constitution does not grant rights - it merely enumerate

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cdrguru (88047)

          Try claiming your "natural rights" in Chile. Or China. Or just about anywhere outside of a very small number of places on the planet and you will find these rights aren't considered to be very natural at all. They are a figment of your imagination.

      • by Vancorps (746090) on Friday August 28, 2009 @12:23PM (#29233079)

        You're frustratingly right about the courts and I don't understand the justification. The ideals were established for citizens because there were supposed to be the right way of running a government. So why are people allowed to circumvent these ideals just because someone is flying into the country? I don't know why so many of my fellow citizens have grown to fear people from other countries. If we believe or moral ground is the example for other countries to strive for then shouldn't we rigidly follow our own rules?

        For me, I was once asked to leave my backpack at the counter of a liquor store in Vegas. I had my work laptop in it with a lot of sensitive information involved in setting up one of our events. When the keeper asked me to do this I promptly left as I won't do business with people that treat me like a criminal. Why should we treat incoming travelers like criminals? The vast majority are regular people who don't like being treated as though they have committed a crime anymore that I like to. It's very frustrating that people live their lives in fear when it's almost completely unfounded.

      • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday August 28, 2009 @12:24PM (#29233109) Journal

        By that argument, if a gang of thugs flew into the United States, never left the international arrivals area, and committed heinous crimes while there---plotting assassinations, designing nuclear weapons, calling for hits on their enemies, execution-style murders, gang rape, etc.---they would not be in the U.S. and thus could not be prosecuted under U.S. law. For that matter, any sort of crime---mugging, graffiti, public urination, public drunkenness, public nudity, arson, etc.---would be completely legal as long as you don't leave the international arrivals area. Does arson only become a crime when the fire spreads outside the international arrivals area? This also means that terrorists could legally set up training camps in the international arrivals area of a major airport. Why does the DHS want to harbor terrorists within our borders?

        Another scary thought: it may not happen today or tomorrow, but statistically speaking, before the heat death of the universe, some psychopath will likely murder a child in the international arrivals area, get off because he wasn't on U.S. soil, then kill again. Then we'll have another law on the books named after some dead child, all because the government feels such a desperate need to violate its own citizens' right to privacy. The very thought of such a thing happening should give every DHS agent chills. It gives a particularly ironic twist to using the words "think of the children" while executing illegal searches for child porn....

        Alternatively, if Cuba or North Korea flew a firing squad into some U.S. airport, lined up its soldiers along the walls, and shot everyone who came through, that, too, would win an award for irony, watching as a not-free country helped a "free" country to be more free.

        Or the U.S. .government might simply seal off all the borders. clamp their hands over their ears, and shout LALALALALALALALA! Sounds more like our government to me. After all, nothing could be more important than the government's right to catch stupid criminals who aren't smart enough to ship their pirated DVDs concealed in children's toys, upload their homemade videos of sex with underage girls in Thailand to a server in the U.S. instead of carrying the unencrypted files on their desktop, or download their Al Qaeda propaganda through somebody else's open Wi-Fi access point after they get home. I mean, do they seriously catch any significant number of criminals this way? And if they do, aren't they at least as likely to be able to catch such morons in a million other ways without burning our Constitution in the process?

        Just my $0.0137 (adjusted for inflation).

        • I was going to say the same thing, but you beat me to it, and more thoroughly than I would have. Kudos.

        • by mdm-adph (1030332)

          By that argument, if a gang of thugs flew into the United States, never left the international arrivals area, and committed heinous crimes while there---plotting assassinations, designing nuclear weapons, calling for hits on their enemies, execution-style murders, gang rape, etc.---they would not be in the U.S. and thus could not be prosecuted under U.S. law. For that matter, any sort of crime---mugging, graffiti, public urination, public drunkenness, public nudity, arson, etc.---would be completely legal as long as you don't leave the international arrivals area. Does arson only become a crime when the fire spreads outside the international arrivals area?

          As has been seen by the War on Terror(tm), the US government has no problem with extending its authority beyond its own borders whenever it sees fit. I don't see how a silly "international arrivals area" would stop a country that has shown to arbitrarily invade entire countries based upon only the most spurious of information.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Teun (17872)
          Your first paragraph nails the legal aspects behind Guantanamo Bay pretty well.
      • by jimicus (737525)

        The DHS has always held the belief (with the Supreme Court's backing) that people and their belongings at customs checkpoints at the airport (or at a border crossing) aren't within the country (yet), consequently, the constitution doesn't apply to "inspections" within those checkpoints. That gives the DHS and their goons all the leeway they want in "confiscating" or "inspecting" all the stuff they want for as long as they want.

        By that logic, no US law applies at the checkpoint. In fact, in all likelihood no law of any description applies at the checkpoint.

        In which case, their right to take your laptop, detain you or otherwise inconvenience you doesn't stem from a formal legal system with the checks and balances that implies, it's because they've got a large number of armed goons at their disposal and you have nothing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sumdumass (711423)

      I think you need to consult out founding fathers. They thought it was so reasonable to search things comming through the borders that they instituted the very first warrant-less search at the border law in the very first session of congress. This law was later held up by the US supreme court as being necessary for our sovereignty that the very right of sovereignty would be jeopardized without it.

      There is a history of this going back to many of the people who drafted the people and who even signed it.

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:17AM (#29232171)
    I believe 'em. I mean, they wouldn't lie to us, would they?...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:20AM (#29232215)

      Sure... All the TSA employees already got 3 laptops each out of the system.

      They're full! Don't need anymore.

      captcha: customs

      How odd

    • I believe 'em. I mean, they wouldn't lie to us, would they?...

      That man is a terrorist. The police are always right. The government is acting in your best interests (please hand over your wallet). Everything is going to be fine. Thank you for your cooperation, citizen.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by mi (197448)

        ... please hand over your wallet ...

        We need it to pay for health-care for you and the millions of uninsured... Is that, what you were trying to say?

        • by spazdor (902907)

          Also, we've spent the last decade building a lot of big, really expensive mobile hardware, training staff to use it, and then sending both overseas to be destroyed. And apparently we actually have to pay for those. Who knew?

    • by rawls (1462507) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:32AM (#29232397) Homepage
      You still need to be careful. Do what I do and mail each of your laptops to a different state governor before you leave on your trip.
      • It's a good plan! Afterall - who better to trust with your valuables than a politician?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by GaryOlson (737642)

        Step 1: mail each of your laptops to a different state governor before you leave on your trip.

        Step 2: Attempt to carry a firearm across the border, get arrested by the FBI.
        Step 3: Get transferred to the same FBI building as your laptops.
        Step 4: Initiate a terrorist action from inside the FBI.
        Step 5: Profit!

  • So... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:19AM (#29232201) Journal
    If any of the "information" was over 18 at the time of photography, they have a "legal reason" to keep it, am I right?

    I, for one, definitely trust the letter and the spirit of the law to be upheld on this one. We've never had trouble with illegal intelligence gathering here, especially not when the agency involved is opaque and largely unaccountable. It should be fine.
    • I, for one, definitely trust the letter and the spirit of the law to be upheld on this one. We've never had trouble with illegal intelligence gathering here, especially not when the agency involved is opaque and largely unaccountable. It should be fine.

      Zim: Computer, give me all the information you have on the FBI.
      Computer: The FBI is a government law enforcement agency.
      Zim: Continue.
      Computer: Insufficient data.
      Zim: "Insufficient data"? Can't you just make an educated guess?
      Computer: O... kay... Um, founded in 1492 by, uh... demons, the FBI is a crack law enforcement agency designed to... uh, I dunno, fight... aliens?
      Zim: I KNEW IT!

    • Oh if the evidence was over 18 they have a great reason. What do you think they are a bunch of pedos?

  • by Anonymous Cowar (1608865) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:19AM (#29232213)
    Dear Sir or Madam,

    Please enjoy your stay in the United States of America, we have searched your laptop and destroyed our copies of your vacation bikini pictures after looking at snapshots of your fine fine body projected onto the conference room wall for an emergency assessment meeting. We did not find anything that would indicate that you might be dangerous outside of the bedroom, so we have kindly loaded your laptop with a government issued keylogger and trojan. We hope you enjoy your time here as much as we enjoyed your pictures. Please take more, we'll be waiting.

    Sincerely,

    the Department of Homeland Security
    • by surmak (1238244) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:29AM (#29232339)

      Dear Sir or Madam, Please enjoy your stay in the United States of America, we have searched your laptop and destroyed our copies of your vacation bikini pictures after looking at snapshots of your fine fine body projected onto the conference room wall for an emergency assessment meeting. rest deleted

      If this were message ever sent, I would hope the salutation would by shortened to "Dear Madam"

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:24AM (#29232249)

    but a supervisor now would need to approve holding a device for more than five days. Any copies of information taken from travelers' machines would be destroyed within days if there were no legal reason to hold the information

    .

    "A supervisor." Not a judge or someone who has had formal training in law, but a coworker.

    "if there were no legal reason to hold the information." They'll just claim they haven't had time to investigate it yet. Or "national security reasons", which is the same as not giving any reason at all. Legal reasons can be manufactured as needed -- our laws are sufficiently complex and vague that a reason can always be found to arrest, detain, and then jail someone. Laws exist to enable authorities to silence or remove people they don't like -- YOU can't enforce the law on someone else, after all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by billcopc (196330)

      Does that mean there's a law to enable citizens to arrest, detain, jail, silence AND remove the government officials we don't like ?

      Like uh, I dunno, the TSA ?

      In the millions (billions?) of unwarranted searches performed under guise of national security, how many serious, dangerous, organized, threat-to-the-safety-of-the-nation terrorists have been caught and permanently neutralized ? In other words, what's the hit rate for this malware filter ?

      If the answer is zero, you need to start thinking about a coup

  • Copying files (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:25AM (#29232277) Journal

    There's no "legal" reason to keep files stolen by the uneducated border minions unless:

    1. You are not an American.
    3. You have "trade secrets" that can give American companies a competitive advantage.

    And that's one reason why business travel across the Atlantic / Pacific to the US has declined.

    • by kpainter (901021) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:45AM (#29232575)

      1. You are not an American.
      3. You have "trade secrets" that can give American companies a competitive advantage.

      2. Classified

      • How did you know there was a number 2, and that it was classified? I'm afraid we're going to have to ask you to come in to clarify some things, sir.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499)
      And that's one reason why business travel across the Atlantic / Pacific to the US has declined.

      Yeah, it wouldn't have anything to do with high fuel prices, a global economic slump that has international trade very tight for now, or perhaps the fact that people are finally figuring out that they can use GoToMeeting and VoIP conference bridges to get a whole lot of things done without having to move human bodies between continents to agree on a marketing program or manufacturing schedule. Nah, it's Eeeevil
      • Re:Copying files (Score:4, Insightful)

        by H0p313ss (811249) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:44PM (#29234281)

        Nah, it's Eeeevil Laptop Searches. That's it.

        Nor could it possibly be the security theater hassle as a whole;

        • xraying shoes?
        • finger printing
        • the small, but real, chance you're going to be sent to Syria to "chat"

        I traveled through Europe right through the Irish troubles and never saw so much BS.

  • by swanzilla (1458281) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:31AM (#29232373) Homepage
    "Between Oct. 1, 2008, and Aug. 11 of this year, Customs and Border Protection officers processed more than 221 million travelers at U.S. borders and searched about 1,000 laptops, of which 46 were "in-depth" searches, the Homeland Security Department said."

    I wonder if the other 954 laptops required passwords for login...
    • by oahazmatt (868057) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:43AM (#29232537) Journal

      I wonder if the other 954 laptops required passwords for login...

      I'm inclined to believe it's the other way around. While I haven't done any international travel, from what I understand as told to me by co-workers who do travel abroad, laptops (and in some cases, Blackberries) have to be decrypted and ready to inspect. Passwords do not stop these Security Agents from investigating a laptop, and we have had several employees who have missed their flights because they were not allowed to continue with encrypted devices.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        I think if that happened to me on an outbound flight, I would be inclined to sue for several million dollars in lost revenue to encourage DHS to use some common sense.

        • I think if that happened to me on an outbound flight, I would be inclined to sue for several million dollars in lost revenue to encourage DHS to use some common sense.

          Sure. Good luck with that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by dgatwood (11270)

            I'd love to see it tested in court, merely because AFAIK financial liability for unreasonable detention is largely an untested area of law. The cases I'm aware of that (fail to) set the bar for reasonable border searches are all cases in which there was at least some degree of probable cause for conducting such a search (e.g. something illegal in plain sight) and in which the searches turned up something illegal as expected. Basically, they were all the sorts of cases in which it would have been surprisin

      • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:08PM (#29233693)

        Our employees have no problems going in or out of the U.S. with laptops even though we require all laptops with data on them to be fully encrypted. When an employee is, say, going to France (worst case; it's illegal to enter France with an encrypted device) we copy all their data to the network, take it off the network, wipe it clean, and install a base image. When the user gets to France, they are met by one of our techs who installs full disk encryption, joins the machine to our network, sets up a VPN, and copies their data from our U.S. servers to the laptop in France.

        When it's time to return home, the tech in France copies all data to our servers, takes the laptop off the network, wipes it clean, and installs a base image. When the user gets back into the U.S., a local tech fully encypts the machine, puts it on the network, and copies the user data from our servers to the laptop.

        Now, this seems like lot of trouble to me. But it prevents our employees from having any problems with customs in either France or the U.S.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by CXI (46706)
          we copy all their data to the network, take it off the network, wipe it clean, and install a base image. When the user gets to France, they are met by one of our techs who installs full disk encryption, joins the machine to our network, sets up a VPN, and copies their data from our U.S. servers to the laptop in France.

          Um, stupid question, but if that's the case why is the person physically transporting a laptop in the first place? Wouldn't it be easier to just have a laptop already setup and ready to dump

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Those of us who support these guys have asked the same thing. The only thing I can come up with is that my agency is paranoid about individuals having more than one computer. We have loaner machines, for example, but they're kept at a central location and mailed around the country when someone needs one. We keep almost no spares on hand.

            This whole "cut hardware expenditures to the bone" attitude causes lots of problems. Not the least of those problems is the time lost when people travel abroad. One not

  • ... my hundreds of a gigabytes of random bits I've been collecting?

  • Ship your "good" machine in and out of the USA and use a disposable to watch movies in flight. FFS, this is just drama for the news cameras under the guise of protecting America.
    • Ship your "good" machine in and out of the USA and use a disposable to watch movies in flight.

      What should we think that they don't hold and search a laptop just because it's shipped instead of carried on board?

  • No way in h - e - double hockey sticks would I bring my production notebook on a trip with me overseas. What if 4 years ago, you got malware that distributed something you never knew about existed on your box? What if you had a phone number (or series of numbers) somewhere on your machine that was suspect? Too many what-ifs; I'll bring a freshly wiped notebook on my next trip and only the bare minimum files needed for my job.

    I wonder what software they use to scour the machines they investigate? Or is it

    • by japhering (564929)

      No way in h - e - double hockey sticks would I bring my production notebook on a trip with me overseas.

      Who in their right mind lets a "production" machine out of the building? Production machine stays put. Travel with a secondary notebook or better yet
      a low cost netbook. (Best use yet for netbooks,, cheap throw aways).

      • Bingo. My laptop has no data on it, and with rare and temporary exceptions, it will stay that way. All data is in boxes that stay in secured areas, which I access via encrypted VPN.

    • by AgTiger (458268)

      1. Make backup of laptop prior to travelling. Store "working" backup image at home on your main workstation.
      2. Mindwipe the drive (zero it with formatting software particular to the drive - WD offers "Data Lifeguard Diagnostic", Seagate offers "Seatools")
      3. Restore a pre-built image of the drive with only the software you need to do your work, including software to securely remote to your desktop at work (where the real work files are located.)
      4. Pack laptop, backup software, and copy of factory image
      5

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by a-zarkon! (1030790)

      If you've got nothing to hide, what are you worried about? Think of the children.

      Once it's out of your hands, I think the only safe course of action is to assume that they've made a bit-for-bit copy of the drive and installed a persistent, impossible-to-detect back door. Chances are slim that they're actually doing this, but the technology exists and since there is no way for you to know that this didn't happen I think you need to assume that it did. The costs of transmitting and storing the contents of

  • Five Days? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:43AM (#29232531)

    Unless there are nuclear bomb plans on the desktop, why would we be holding these devices for any days? Why are searching people's data anyways, when any serious criminal could simply upload their data to a server, drop it in a Dropbox account, or just encrypt it before crossing the border?

    We need to be encouraging tourism and business travelers, not pulling this crap.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968)

      Unless there are nuclear bomb plans on the desktop, why would we be holding these devices for any days? Why are searching people's data anyways, when any serious criminal could simply upload their data to a server, drop it in a Dropbox account, or just encrypt it before crossing the border?

      We need to be encouraging tourism and business travelers, not pulling this crap.

      DHS isn't about criminals, it's about gaining more control over normal people.

    • Why are searching people's data anyways

      because they can? because they want to? because its a fishing expedition. they MIGHT come up with a goldmine.

      or, they wont; and they'll simply trample on the most basic right to privacy, left and right, until we demand they stop.

      btw, 'we' is not really we; its someone in power who finally gets personally pissed off enough by this that he does something. until the ruling class object to this, it will continue to be a personal invasion.

      we know there's no good reason

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:43AM (#29232545)
    How do I know the data retrieved has been destroyed? After the way the government handled the MLB players confidential drug results I do not have confidence in their ethics.
    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      In the US you are fine, it is covered by the 5th. But be careful because apparently, or at least how I can see the decision being interpenetrated if you corporate with the police that constitutes a waiver of your 5th.
  • They're welcome to hang only my truecrypt volume as long as they like.

    5th Amendment FTW

    • by dnaumov (453672)

      They're welcome to hang only my truecrypt volume as long as they like.

      5th Amendment FTW

      They won't have to. They politely ask you for the password to proceed with their inspection and when you politely decline, they politely inform you that you cannot board the plane until you do.

  • They can't take something that looks like a laptop but is in reality a paper weight, right? So if I have a kill switch that makes the laptop not work what are they going to do? They would probably still take it but if they can't BOOT the thing... if it doesn't even work... what can they do?

    Madmax had his kill switch tied to explosives... but I guess that would be a "no no".

    • by Entropius (188861)

      What if it's legitimately broken? I was carrying one of those through airport security once -- what happens if they say "Boot it" and you say "can't, the PSU is fried"?

  • Destroyed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SmithKrieg (954547)
    Rest assured, by "destroyed" they mean that their printed copies of your private files will be discarded into their unlocked dumpster out back. And certainly while your secrets are floating around within their IT environment, they are completely safe since the DHS employees are doing infosec really well.
  • Interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KingPin27 (1290730)
    So what about from the viewpoint of someone travelling into the United States from out of the country? Can we expect the right to privacy or would we be beholden to the same ritual? As a Canadian, who often travels into the U.S, can I expect that my laptop could, essentially, be seized because the powers that be just want to take it? Can I demand a warrant for the seizure of my laptop? I wonder if they would lock me up for demanding a warrant then lose the key sort of thing.

    The U.S is fast becoming a
  • Even if there *were* something nefarious someone could do with a few million bits on a computer, this sort of thing won't stop them.

    If I want to get into the US with the Blueprints for the Big Terrorist Plot, all I have to do is encrypt them and upload them somewhere (terrorists can use gmail too!), come into the US with a machine with nothing on it, then get inside and download it again.

    Flash memory cards have gotten big enough that you can store practically anything you want on one of them. What's to stop

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      They should ask for RFC3514 [faqs.org] compliance from hardware and OS manufacturers.

  • Pfew... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anonieuweling (536832) on Friday August 28, 2009 @12:13PM (#29232973)
    'The long-criticized practice of searching travelers' electronic devices will continue, but a supervisor now would need to approve holding a device for more than five days. Any copies of information taken from travelers' machines would be destroyed within days if there were no legal reason to hold the information.'"
    That will really help. Terrorism is always a legal reason; and nowadays even thought-crime is being used as a reason to imprison people (yes! see gitmo). They have no business with my private information. No matter if those are love letters or plans for a bomb of some type. I will crypt the data. You copy the data, but I get to keep the hardware, right? Why can't they publicise it that way? Why the delay of five days? It is an ineffective policy and an ineffective change. They still pester people for no reason.
  • by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Friday August 28, 2009 @03:01PM (#29235393)

    Lost in this whole discussion with Homeland Security -- is how do we make sure the people watching us, aren't the problem?

    It's been almost a decade now, that I've felt that there was NO OVERSIGHT on people with power, and of course, we only put on trial the few bad apples that are disposable. But if we cannot have anyone at the Fed accountable for destroying the economy, if we can't have anyone at the Pentagon accountable for absolute failure on 9/11 and then LOSING $2 Trillion dollars that seemed to miss the headlines on 9/12, what the heck is the point of sniffing up every business man's trousers --- if they are REAL bad guys, they might just be working for Homeland Security.

    Did anyone investigate why Homeland Security was funding the CIA's "Prostitutes and Poker" scandal at the Watergate Hotel? Did someone just declare "bygones" and we all forgot about it?

    There is no transparency and accountability in regards to abuse. For all we know, HS could copy the hard drive of someone from GM and give the data to someone at GE for a great price. The risk/reward for corporate espionage when NOBODY IS WATCHING THE WATCHERS -- well, corruption is inevitable.

    I might have some trust in Homeland Security, if they spent less time looking for dirty pictures and downloaded music files and a LOT MORE TIME, looking into things like the Sibel Edmonds testimony: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7374 [bradblog.com]

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