Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Your Rights Online

High-Tech Gadgets Can Pose Problems At Mexican Border 447

Posted by timothy
from the which-jail-would-you-prefer dept.
TechnologyResource writes "Going across the border will be a more 'interesting' experience since Customs and Border Protection will now be checking laptops, digital cameras, cell phones and any other electronics on your person or in your vehicle. It's not a new authority, according to Angelica De Cima, Office of Public Affairs Liaison 'They've always had the right to inspect your person, vehicle, baggage, anything on you. Nothing has changed from before,' De Cima said."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

High-Tech Gadgets Can Pose Problems At Mexican Border

Comments Filter:
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:51PM (#29534553) Homepage Journal

    "He said anyone coming across could be a terrorist, drug dealer or someone trying to carry or take information out of the country by hiding it in a smaller device."

    Why not just FTP it. Or hide a microSD card inside a cake? It should bake okay, the chip inside gets put under higher temps than the inside of cupcake when they place them on a PCB. The plastic on a uSD might melt a little, but I suspect the information will still be there.

  • I predict... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@noSpAm.gmail.com> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:53PM (#29534577) Homepage Journal
    ... that US customs agents will some of the first thugs against the wall when the revolution comes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:57PM (#29534615)

    "Blue corvette with three gringos heading south route X should pass through your village in 20 minutes. They have laptops, top-notch cellphones, some GPS stuff and wallets full of cash. I'd say some $15k in various assets. Remember, 10% is mine."

  • by tenton (181778) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:57PM (#29534619)

    Searching the 9/11 hijackers wouldn't have stopped them. It's not like they had their plans saved on their computers. Why do we accept this kind of crap whenever anyone says the magic words "9/11"? We don't even need to change the policy at the airport...people are going to beat down hijackers now, on their own.

    They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. Ben Franklin.

  • by pongo000 (97357) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:57PM (#29534627)

    ...which is rather scary. Used to work for US Customs many years ago (before it was ICE), and we were legally permitted to basically search *anything* entering the country (including personal mail, something that is a federal crime in most other instances) other than diplomatic mail and pouches. Nothing was off-limits: If it comes from overseas, ICE has the constitutional right (backed by many years of case law) to search it.

    I'm not saying this is a good thing, but every international traveler should be aware of this. Whining about your constitutional rights being violated while standing in the "red" line at your port of entry will simply prolong the agony.

  • Re:Linux laptop (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tenton (181778) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:58PM (#29534633)

    I wonder what they'll do when they search my 'unusable' Linux laptop.

    See you in 30 days.

    FTFA: CBP is authorized to keep an item or person in question for up to 30 days, although generally this is only if the subject is put into custody.

  • by mmelson (441923) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:58PM (#29534643)

    Bake it IN the cake? That seems a bit extreme. Why not just bake the cake, let it cool, insert the microSD, then frost. If they start defrosting cakes while searching people, they deserve to find it.

  • by baudbarf (451398) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:58PM (#29534645) Homepage

    Holy frijoles. You just conspired to commit a crime. See how easy that was?

  • by NoYob (1630681) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:59PM (#29534665)
    The border patrol is just looking for stupid criminals and terrorists - like that old guy with the young boy and the camera with the incriminating evidence. It's also for "security theater".

    On the other hand, the smart criminals and terrorists will get away with it and then there will be more infringements on our liberty to "keep us safe" - from the stupid criminals and terrorists. Then the cycle repeats.

  • Re:YRO??!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:59PM (#29534667)

    It is both new and interesting.

    For years, you fill in the form on the airplane, and walk thru customs after a perfunctory stamp stamp, here's your paper, no questions asked, no passport, no ID even looked at upon arrival at the Mexican Airport. Once in a while the "Red light" went off depending on how seedy you looked.

    But by and large, getting into Mexico entailed less scrutiny than returning to the states, where questions were asked, documents were demanded, and bags were scanned and opened.

    Times change. But Mexico has always been lax.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:59PM (#29534669) Homepage
    I think from a Constitutional perspective they are correct that they have the right to do such inspections. However, doing them on a large scale is a really bad idea. However, stupidity is not unconstitutional.
  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:00PM (#29534683) Homepage Journal
    I've lived on border cities almost my entire life. Even my hispanic coworkers agree(and those poor bastards have to wait hours at the border crossing just to make an honest living) that it's all just security theater, another half-baked escalation to justify the creation of the wasteful, ham-handed gestapo called DHS. It goes without saying that I can still get cocaine or any other drug anytime I want stateside, and that won't change anytime soon.

    So they scoop up a pic of child porn or an occasional drug bust and hype the hell out of it in the news, problem solved. A budget for next year, and no admission that the creation of the DHS was a colossal mistake. Of course, they'll have their work cut out for them when the United States becomes the next Nazi Germany and they're tasked with sealing the borders.
  • apparently (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:03PM (#29534709) Journal

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated

    Apparently this is one of those times where the feds take advantage of that massive loo-pole in the fourth amendment effectively allowing them to disregard it in the case of "reasonable" searches and seizures...

  • Re:I predict... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:05PM (#29534735) Homepage

    No revolution is successful because it always ends up in evolution. Somethings change, somethings always stay the same. We don't need a revolution, we need to uphold our constitution. A lot of this stuff should really be unconstitutional and needs to be challenged more. Didn't the supreme court rule that customs cannot do roadside drug searches inside our borders, and yet they do it anyways because it really doesn't apply within 150 miles of the border? 150 miles is a lot of land and contains a very sizable portion of our population.

  • by Threni (635302) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:07PM (#29534767)

    They can't stop drugs getting into prisons - why bother pretending you can stop it across thousands of miles of unguarded border? And as for information - well, perhaps some of the minimum wage pigs and grunts they hire to pose in their security theatre are stupid enough to believe "checking" a laptop is going to prevent information getting into Mexico and help them create a rival utopia, but it seems like a bit of a waste of time to me. Still, I'm sure it all makes sense to someone.

  • by Carthag (643047) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:18PM (#29534881) Homepage

    Hypotheticals aren't conspiracy.

    Yet

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:21PM (#29534911)

    First - this is fishing. You aren't actually accused of anything... we are going to search you till we find something. What was the famous quote - something like: "give me 6 lines from the hand of an innocent man and I'll find something to convict him".

    Second - the fact that they found something. After trampling over the rights of 221 million passengers, they found a paedophile. Is that worth the cost? How many rights are you willing to give up to find that paedophile? Having rights and freedoms means that sometimes bad guys get away. To catch all bad guys requires us to live in a panopticon.

    Third - the tone that if you object to this program, you obviously support the paedophile.

    Fourth - I'm from outside the US, but I travel there frequently for business. The entry requirements have risen from a form to being fingerprinted and photographed and carrying biometric data at all times. Is there an upper level to this? What would happen if they require DNA swabs to enter? Is that a step too far? Right now in Chicago, they take a nude photo of you using a new scanner to be able to fly. That is so screwed up.

  • Re:YRO??!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:21PM (#29534925)

    In any case, your rights when attempting to cross a sovereign country's borders are pretty much whatever they say it is. Get over it. This isn't a new or interesting development.

    Which is exactly why I'm never transiting through the US again. Plain fucking worth to spend an extra 50 euros to fly from Amsterdam to Toronto instead.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:23PM (#29534943) Homepage Journal

    Where in the post did he say it was hypothetical?

  • The great news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:30PM (#29535009)

    They have extended the thickness of the border by 100 miles as well, so that now 80% of the population can be summarily stopped and searched at anytime.

    Isn't it great?

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:31PM (#29535029) Journal

    It's not a new authority, according to Angelica De Cima, Office of Public Affairs Liaison 'They've always had the right to inspect your person, vehicle, baggage, anything on you. Nothing has changed from before,' De Cima said."

    This is always how it is done. Pass laws that are extreme enough so that people say "no one will ever use them"...wait for a while... then use them when there is no chance to roll those laws back.

    This is why Thomas Jefferson said "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:35PM (#29535065)

    They can't stop drugs getting into prisons - why bother pretending you can stop it across thousands of miles of unguarded border?

    Because every time it fails badly enough, you can use it as an excuse to make the nation behind the unguarded border more like a prison, and thereby increase your budget.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:36PM (#29535071)

    Fine, the law says they can conduct a forensic search, but there's no reason I have to make it easy for them.

    If you take this approach, it may be some time before you get your device back, if at all. If they find that they *can't* get into it, they will assume there is a reason they *should* get into it, and they will not give it back until they crack it. If they can't, you mey not see it again. So exect to lose youe strongly encrypted device. Hope it didn't cost too much...

  • Re:I predict... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SteveFoerster (136027) <steve@stevefoers ... com minus author> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:39PM (#29535101) Homepage

    We don't need a revolution, we need to uphold our constitution.

    You mean scale the federal government back only to those things explicitly authorized in Article I, Section 8 minus those things prohibited by the Bill of Rights? If wouldn't be revolutionary, I don't know what would be!

  • by oldmeddler (1614805) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:42PM (#29535127)
    'They've always had the right to inspect your person, vehicle, baggage, anything on you.'

    No, they do not have the "right" to search. They have the power. Big difference.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:57PM (#29535259) Homepage

    It's not "High-Tech Gadgets Can Pose Problems At Mexican Border", it's "High-Tech Gadgets Can Pose Problems At United States Border".

  • by Sperbels (1008585) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:59PM (#29535277)

    I figure by 2100 in many areas of Texas, New Mexico and California, English will be taught as a second language.

    Because our primary language will be Chinese.

  • Re:I predict... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:00PM (#29535285)

    The problem is that it's easier to find loopholes than it is to plug them. All it takes is one guy at DHS thinking in his cubical to come up with a semi-plausible legal rational for this kind of thing. To have the rational refuted takes someone willing to sacrafice years of their life and fight it all the way to the supreme court. It takes thousands of man hours, sometimes millions of dollars to refute even the simpliest of arguments. And what happens after? The DHS says 'oh well' and goes back to the way things were before. No one is held accountable, no one is punished, and there is nothing to prevent the same worthless peon from coming up with another rational a week later.

  • by aztracker1 (702135) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:04PM (#29535325) Homepage

    Only if they're 21-30 and female here...

  • by sideshow (99249) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:08PM (#29535341)

    Why does this American Federal employee talk like Speedy Gonzales?

    Oh, I get it, besides being ignorant on how people in Mexico speak, you were too lazy to look up who the CBP is. Here's a hint, the first two words in the full name are: United States: http://www.cbp.gov/ [cbp.gov]

  • by pluther (647209) <pluther@nOSpam.usa.net> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:10PM (#29535357) Homepage

    They attacked us because they hate our freedom.

    So we get rid of it. Makes sense.

  • by magarity (164372) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:20PM (#29535429)

    Or hide a microSD card inside a cake?
     
    What's this? How many illegal immigrants can fit in a 8GB microsd card, anyway? Oh, wait, that's not what they're searching for on the Mexican border? No wonder it's such a problem...

  • by siloko (1133863) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:21PM (#29535437)

    Why not just bake the cake . . .

    Bake it in a cake!? WTF!? News for Nerds my arse, we're all just wannabe housewives . . . from the thirties!

  • Power (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fnj (64210) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:23PM (#29535445)

    They have the power. Not the right. There is a difference.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:24PM (#29535451) Homepage

    SD cards are so small that have to be one of the easiest items to hide in the known universe. There's a brazillion places you could tape one to a car or hide it about your person. Dogs can't sniff them out so unless they're going to start strip-searching *everybody* and dismantling every car then they're not going to find them.

    It's just more pointless stupidity from the DHS.

    Don't even get me started on micro-SSD or FTP.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:32PM (#29535493) Homepage Journal

    people are going to beat down hijackers now, on their own

    Shhh.. if you mention that the 9/11 problem was solved in a plane over a field in rural PA just over an hour after the first plane hit the towers by ordinary Americans (who can comprehend real security very well) then there's no need for massive expansion of government. Why aren't you patriotic?

    What's next, are you going to tell us that with hardened cockpit doors there's absolutely no need to confiscate small pointy objects from passengers? You one of those terrists, son?

  • by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:52PM (#29535609) Journal

    cake baking is an important social skill, second only to playing a musical instrument.

    Get a good recipe, follow it to the letter, and if you still screw it up, you don't deserve cake.

  • by dbet (1607261) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @08:56PM (#29535625)
    I have a 120 GB drive in my netbook that is maybe half-full. How long would it take for YOU to search the entire drive and make sure it's "clean"? Keep in mind I could have info in the meta-data of my MP3s, or in /etc/default/bluetooth or even in a small encrypted text file that I don't have the software or password to open.

    And that's ONE person's stuff. There's just no way to enforce this.
  • by photomonkey (987563) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @09:49PM (#29535931)

    That's why they can keep your stuff for 30 days or longer.

    They're not going to go file-by-file right in front of you. Oh, no. They're going to clone every storage device on you after physically inspecting the hardware. Then, if they bother to go through it and find something encrypted, they'll likely subpoena you for the key. Don't want to turn it over? Can't remember the old password? Contempt of court.

    If they find something they think is criminal, watch US Marshals show up at your house weeks later to talk with you about it.

    These searches will probably be carried out en masse behind closed doors; long after you get home sans laptop and CF cards.

    But that's the underlying problem with the system. They can image your laptop drive and either actually confuse the data with someone else's (see: No Fly List), thereby getting you in trouble; or some unscrupulous person can drop a kiddie pron file, a missile schematic or a plan to hijack a plane in there and haul you off. How are you going to argue against that?

    And we haven't even discussed how long they can hang onto the "evidence" or what their destruction policies are.

    And no, they won't do it to everyone. That would cause panic and anger. They'll do it to random people because they can, and they'll do it to people they want to "get;" legitimately or otherwise. You can never show all the sheep how you're going to shave and slaughter them.

  • by shoemilk (1008173) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @09:58PM (#29535981) Journal

    ICE has the constitutional right

    Actually, no it doesn't. I know I'm being semantic, but no government agency has any "rights", the have privileges. The constitution says (Article I Section I line I) "All legislative Powers herein granted..."

    The difference is important though. Rights are inalienable. Privileges can be revoked.

  • Re:YRO??!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Thursday September 24, 2009 @10:03PM (#29535999) Journal

    In any case, your rights when attempting to cross a sovereign country's borders are pretty much whatever they say it is.

    As a citizen of the country in question, I am (ostensibly) part of the "they" who gets to say what those rights are. There is no reasonable justification for these searches other than "because I can". There is no way a reasonable person can argue that these searches make anyone safer, or prevent any crimes or criminal material coming into the country. Since our constitution prohibits unreasonable searches these searches are illegal. The fact that the Supreme Court has allowed such searches only shows how corrupt our justice system really is. This is nothing more than thuggery.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @10:11PM (#29536043) Homepage Journal

    Dogs can't sniff them out so unless they're going to start strip-searching *everybody* ...

    Strip searches aren't nearly good enough. They'll have to do body-cavity searches if they're to find SD cards and USB memory gadgets wherever they may be hidden.

  • by noundi (1044080) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @10:38PM (#29536159)

    Sorry, but I have to call bullshit on this one - EU Airports abuse people anytime they want without any remorse or pretense of politeness.

    Wait YOU call bullshit on this and then proceed claiming that you know the procedures of all EUs countries airports? There is no way in hell you know this. The EU is not one country and there is no "standard procedure" thorughout EU as there is in the US, so don't generalise like that because it makes you sound like an ignorant idiot. And FYI I have never been told to fill out a piece of paper promising that I'm not smuggling snails into the country anywhere else than when I had to TRANSIT through the US. The whole experience was so ridiculous I swear I felt a micro stroke somewhere in my frontal lobe. I'm with the AC parent, transiting through the US fucking sucks horse dick, and you can whip out your biggest patriotic flag without changing that simple fact.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @11:27PM (#29536469)

    No they're not looking for stupid criminals. They know what they're doing. They're using the threat of stupid criminals to allow them to search every American that crosses a border for things that have nothing to do with border security.

  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:28AM (#29536959)

    Personal items are not part of "interstate commerce" no matter what definition of "state" is used.

  • by Mhtsos (586325) on Friday September 25, 2009 @02:22AM (#29537011)

    I tried that, but then I realized it's a lie.

    Just use this [thinkgeek.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 25, 2009 @04:33AM (#29537355)

    So, they've been able to trace about 20% (Pretty large statistical proportion) of the guns back to originating country and of those 90% are from the USA? That doesn't perhaps prove anything about the rest 80% (At least not if we make the unfounded claim that "Guns from other countries are somehow harder to trace back") but do we have any reason to believe that the numbers are significantly different in that area?

    Also, USA produces more weapons than any other country, it is extremely easy to buy a weapon (even legally) and leave no trace of it and they have quite a lot of common border. That combined to the statistics....

    Even if the number was "only 50%" of the weapons in Mexico coming from USA, being able to lower that amount would have a massive impact. Even if other sources would replace USA eventually, removing the easiest source of weapons means that the prices would be a lot higher from other sources.

  • Be very careful (Score:2, Insightful)

    by XB-70 (812342) on Friday September 25, 2009 @08:47AM (#29538383)
    A friend of mine, a lawyer, was transporting her laptop across the (northern) border. U.S. Customs demanded that she provide the password to her laptop so that it could be examined. She stated that she had lawyer-client privileged information on her hard drive and that the officer could not be privy to such information.

    She was offered the option of traveling to her destination without her laptop or submitting to the search.

    This constitutes and egregious violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment and needs to be challenged at the highest levels.

    I can only say that the U.S. is becoming more and more what the U.S.S.R. once was. Think of how much actual freedom has eroded and the past two decades and start fighting it.

  • by Golddess (1361003) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:57AM (#29539047)
    And for every idiot caught, there are unknown numbers who did the smart thing and sent it encrypted via some physical mail service, FTP, or any number of other methods that such searching does absolutely jack for.

    So why, exactly, is it acceptable to toss out the 4th amendment when all we're doing is removing one of many easy methods of transferring data across the border?
  • by Anomalyst (742352) on Friday September 25, 2009 @11:02AM (#29539737)
    Calling it "security theater" gives it too much respectability and implies a venue of similar classiness, it is really "security vaudeville".

All warranty and guarantee clauses become null and void upon payment of invoice.

Working...