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Israel Airport Security Allowed To Read Tourists' Email 438

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-have-a-look dept.
wiredmikey writes "Israeli security officials at Ben Gurion airport are legally allowed to demand access to tourists' email accounts and deny them entry if they refuse, the country's top legal official said on Wednesday. Details of the policy were laid out by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in a written response to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the group said in a statement. 'In a response dated April 24, 2013, the attorney general's office confirmed this practice,' ACRI said, quoting sections of the document which said it was only done in exceptional cases where 'relevant suspicious signs' were evident and only done with the tourist's 'consent'. 'Allowing security agents to take such invasive measures at their own discretion and on the basis of such flimsy "consent" is not befitting of a democracy,' commented Lila Margalit from ACRI."
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Israel Airport Security Allowed To Read Tourists' Email

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  • My house, my rules (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @06:54PM (#43541825)

    Israel has every right to require you show just cause why they should let you in. Just like the US has that same right.

    You have no right to enter a country of which you are not a citizen, and they can deny you entry for any reason, and require whatever they want of you as a condition of entry.

    That's just the way it is. Don't like it? Don't go to Israel.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:09PM (#43541935) Journal

      The question isn't whether they can require something; but whether they are showing good taste by doing so.

      Given that nation states exist largely in a state of nature unless they piss off enough members of the security council, what they can do is a very broad category indeed. That, however, makes judging them on what they do choose to do rather easier...

      • by shawn(at)fsu (447153) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:33PM (#43542095) Homepage

        IMHO Israel is not worried about what's in good taste and is more worried about national security from countries that have stated in no uncertain terms that Israel should be wiped off the map.

        • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @08:32PM (#43542467) Journal

          Their airport security works, and the environment is hostile, so I can't blame them much for their airport interview techniques. In 1996, I was consulting for an electronics company in Haifa, where I wrote a technology mapper for digital logic. At the exit interview, the security guy wanted to understand exactly what it was I was doing in Israel, and he almost made me miss my plane. He just couldn't figure out what the heck I was paid to do no matter how I explained it. No biggie. I have a Palestinian friend who tells me about having to go through cavity searches to get on a plane. Their methods violate privacy big time, but it works.

          If we want to pick on Israel, I think pointing out that 45 years of brutal occupation of the West Bank isn't cool. I can let the airport thing slide.

        • by joocemann (1273720) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @09:26PM (#43542749)

          you need a non-corporate interpretor.

          The direct translation was that Israel's current leadership needs to cease to exist.

          Did you ever check your source?

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @09:59PM (#43542883)
      You're making a straw man argument. No one is saying they CAN'T do this.
    • I will be more than happy to show them any of the number of fake e-mail accounts that I maintain for spam. How exactly are they going to be able to tell that they aren't legitimate? Oh, they aren't. They want to go through my email, they will have to spend all afternoon picking through idiotic threads of forwarded cute cat pictures....

      Hey Israel, fuck you for being stupid.
    • Thanks to lobbying, even in the US, Israel's interests are often placed above that of Americans. For a recent example, see this [guardian.co.uk].

    • Why is this marked insightful? My house, my rules, up to a point. I couldn't commit a crime and use that flimsy little truism as a legal excuse.

      The other problem with your argument is "Don't like it? Don't go to Israel.". What about people returning to Israel?
    • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday April 25, 2013 @01:02AM (#43543537) Journal

      You have no right to enter a country of which you are not a citizen, and they can deny you entry for any reason, and require whatever they want of you as a condition of entry.

      Actually, no, they can't. Well, they can require it, but if I acquiesced to those demands and got caught doing so, I could lose my job, get sued for millions of dollars, and then do several years in federal prison.

      At the core of the problem is the fact that most people do not have a legal right to give anyone else access to their email account. As an employee of a major Fortune 500 company, I am prohibited from doing so not only by my employment contract, but ostensibly by SEC regulations as well, because granting such access could constitute facilitating insider trading.

      And even if you're not working for anyone at all, allowing other people access to your account is a violation of the terms of service, which according to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

      And God help you if you happen to be working on anything that requires D.O.D. clearance. Sharing that sort of info with a foreign government could get you life in prison or even summary execution for treason.

      In other words, Israel basically just closed their borders to U.S. citizens, for all intents and purposes, legally speaking. I mean, sure, you can go, but if you do, know that you're taking a very real risk that they might decide to demand that you break U.S. law as a condition of entry, at which point you have two choices: give up all the money you spent on travel and lodging or go to prison when you get back to the States.

      Thanks, but no thanks. There are plenty of countries that actually want American tourists.

  • Twitter (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:04PM (#43541895)

    This is why I do all my confidential corporate communication via Twitter and Slashdot postings.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      Funny, but insightful. Typical email is almost the same thing security-wise. As with everything else on the internet, if it's private and you insist on sending it or storing it, make damn sure it's well encrypted.

  • Pointless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:12PM (#43541947)

    This is a stupid policy because anyone intent on doing harm will just set up a dummy account full of fluffy happy mail to show to airport security. Basically the only outcome of this policy is to deny entry to people who are not a threat.

    • My guess would be that they don't widely deploy this for exactly this reason. But if someone on their terror watch list forgets about this headline and they get flagged for "enhanced" security they'll "wipe down" their laptop behind the white wall and in the process go to your history and download your email before returning it without making much of a fuss.

  • Duh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if people realize that to enter US you need a Tourist Visa (except if you are from approx. 17 states that are exempt).
    To obtain a Tourist Visa, you need to prove your "residential ties" to the country of origin, which include your bank account statements, your apartment lease, etc.
    On top of that you are finger printed on entry.

    And If you think US is bad then try entering Switzerland if you are not from EU, US and a few other countries.

  • Hmmm.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by dskoll (99328) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:36PM (#43542113)

    I traveled through Ben Gurion airport in 2011 and I have to say, I found the security there a lot less invasive and arbitrary than security at US airports. They didn't make me take off my shoes or walk through a body scanner. And they didn't confiscate my bottle of water.

    What they did do was actually spend time talking to me and watching me. I think the security there is really security, not security theatre.

    As for demanding to read your email, that's probably crossing the line. I likely would have refused. But really, it's no worse than the US which can confiscate your laptop at the airport and go through all your files.

    • by icebike (68054)

      But really, it's no worse than the US which can confiscate your laptop at the airport and go through all your files.

      Citation?

      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/8/court-limits-feds-ability-search-laptops-border/ [washingtontimes.com]

      • by dskoll (99328)

        I was unaware of that ruling, being aware only of the previous decision by the three-member panel. Thanks.

        Not sure about the US, but when I returned to Canada one time I was asked to power up my laptop and let the agent look at it. He was searching for kiddy porn (I guess) and after five minutes of eyes-glazing holiday snaps, he let me go. I didn't feel like finding out what would happen if I refused his request to see the files on my laptop.

    • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BoRegardless (721219) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @08:34PM (#43542487)

      "What they did do was actually spend time talking to me and watching me."

      Israeli security are trained heavily in how to watch, talk to, ask questions, banter, and totally focus on all reactions from the traveler to see any signs of tenseness, irritation or unusual reactions, however slight. These guys are true pros and not the wimpy minimum wage TSA types (yeah I know they make more than minimum wages).

    • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @08:43PM (#43542547) Journal

      I traveled through Ben Gurion airport in 2011 and I have to say, I found the security there a lot less invasive and arbitrary than security at US airports. They didn't make me take off my shoes or walk through a body scanner. And they didn't confiscate my bottle of water.

      Israeli airport security is different from American security in one crucial way: they profile passengers.
      So if you found their security less invasive, it's most likely because you don't have the wrong name/skin color/country of origin/family background.

      • Re:Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dskoll (99328) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @09:06PM (#43542663)

        So if you found their security less invasive, it's most likely because you don't have the wrong name/skin color/country of origin/family background.

        Absolutely true. Given the situation in the Middle East, they'd be insane not to profile.

        And no matter how politically-correct you are, all security involves profiling. There simply aren't the resources not to profile. So while it may not be as obvious in the US or Canada, you can bet your bottom dollar you're being profiled.

    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      But really, it's no worse than the US which can confiscate your laptop at the airport and go through all your files.

      ...unless you're a Palestinian.

      FTFY

  • by purnima (243606) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:41PM (#43542157)
    they ask you about your religion and tell you that in any case Israel is able to access your gmail account without your password, because they 7h3y RUL3.

    See The U.S. Government Wanted to Know: Am I Jewish" [dailykos.com]

    "This is the conversation I recall having with Chris Kain at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv by telephone:"

    CK: Hello. I got your number from ___. You are being questioned by the Israeli authorities, I understand.
    ST: They are threatening to deny me entry and to deport me.
    CK: Are you Jewish?
    ST: No
    CK: Have you been in contact with the Israeli government or military in the past?
    ST: No
    CK: Have you been here before?
    ST: Yes, several times. I am a Palestinian with family in the West Bank.
    CK: Oh, you have family in the West Bank. Then there is nothing I can do to help you. In fact, if I interceded on your behalf, it will hurt your case with the Israelis.
    ST: I don't understand. You are saying you can't speak with them. You have no influence. They are demanding to access my gmail account.
    CK: If they have your gmail address, they can get in without your password.
    ST: What do you mean? How?
    CK: They're good!
    ST: This is crazy. You mean you know about these requests to access emails and you have no problem with it.
    CK: It is in our travel warning. They won't harm you. You will be sent home on the next flight out.I hope I have been of good service to you.
    ST: Frankly, you have done nothing for me.
    CK: Well at least you can say I did it kindly.

    • Those statements by Chris Kain sound anti-semitic: asking if the guy is Jewish and implying the the Israelis have magical powers to hack email addresses.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm not sure what the deal is with those magical powers, but there's a reason Kane asked whether he was Jewish. If you're Jewish, you get automatic Israeli citizenship [wikipedia.org] no matter where you're from, so entry is generally pretty painless. If you're Palestinian or Arab or Muslim or an activist, you're probably just shit [mondoweiss.net] out [wrmea.org] of [972mag.com] luck [mondoweiss.net].

  • ...credentials to my Mailinator account :P
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @07:47PM (#43542207)
    I use Thunderbird to POP my mail down to my local desktop at home. The server copy is *not* retained. Furthermore, I don't even know my ISP mail and Gmail passwords off hand - they're stored in my local mail client, which, as I mentioned, is a desktop at home.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They routinely take your laptops and make the backup and give it back to you. Please don't go to Israel with your laptops or any data that you want to protect. Sanitize your email accounts (esp with respect to commercial information where you are bidding against an Israeli company) and then visit the place. The people and the country are a complete delight in surprising contrast to the airport experience. Please take an informed decision.

  • It's nothing new. I wrote about this a year ago, when the same issues came up http://falkvinge.net/2012/06/29/your-email-privacy-is-under-increasing-threat/ [falkvinge.net]
  • Cry me a river (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @08:18PM (#43542383)

    Whine all you want, but more than happy to help these guys. They have:

    * A legitimate reason for increased security. They're under far more serious security threats (and frequency) than the US and Europe.
    * A better security record (% of attacks foiled) using far less money
    * Real security at airports and malls, unlike the security theater going on elsewhere in the world.

    Trust me, if they ever get to the point of asking for your email they have flagged multiple levels of suspicious behavior. I have been traveling there for years and their security is *far* less intrusive than the US and Europe. Personally I wish them all the best. They're the only country in the entire world that is actually winning against Islamic terrorism. That's most than most countries can say.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      * A legitimate reason for increased security.

      I believe there are few legitimate reasons for wanting to violate people's privacy or freedoms in the name of security, and the fact that there may be real threats does not matter to me. If the TSA was actually anything other than security theater, I'd still be against it completely.

      • I believe there are few legitimate reasons for wanting to violate people's privacy or freedoms in the name of security

        There is exactly one reason to do so, and that's when the threat to one's security is so paramount that his very existence is at stake.

        Which, for Israel, is actually the case.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have only traveled to Israel once. My passage in and out was very quick and easy. I spent less time in customs and security than I usually do flying into America. This may be because my company has a branch in Israel, and I think some pre-arrival and departure documentation was provided.

    However, already 5 years ago when I traveled there, it was well documented that security screeners would ask questions like:
    What do you do for a living? Why did you come to Israel? What did you do while you were here?

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by jonr (1130) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @09:54PM (#43542863) Homepage Journal

    Time to register iloveisrael@gmail.com....

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @10:52PM (#43543119)

    Then it would be too much.

  • "We demand to see your email account."

    An email account isn't like a passport or other official document. It can be created, or deleted, on a whim. What kind of "security" do they think this will bring?

  • And this is why... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jon3k (691256) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @11:23PM (#43543225)
    I have about a dozen email accounts.
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Thursday April 25, 2013 @03:48AM (#43544099) Homepage

    Because terrorists are way too dumb to sign up for more than one email account.

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