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Censorship Encryption Canada Communications Security Software United States IT Your Rights Online

CryptoCat Developer Questioned At US-Canadian Border 271

Dangerous_Minds writes "ZeroPaid is documenting some comments made by an encrypted chat developer who was interrogated at the U.S. border recently. According to the CryptoCat developer, border guards confiscated his passport and interrogated him about the application he developed. Most notably, he commented, "The interrogator (who claimed 22 years of computer experience) asked me which algorithms Cryptocat used and about its censorship resistance.""
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CryptoCat Developer Questioned At US-Canadian Border

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  • Re:DHS CS Expert. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @09:08AM (#40243237)

    From reading the article, it sounds more like a routine stop where they ask you dozens of rather pointless questions just to keep you talking. The goal is to see if you have your story straight. They will ask the questions in such a way as to trip you up if you're not telling the truth.

    Chances are they asked about what the guy does for a living and he brought up Cryptocat himself. It was an unusual security-related thing so the officer focused on that for questioning to see if he would say something suspicious.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07, 2012 @09:09AM (#40243249)

    While I sympathize with the criticism of our government, I think it's a bit hyperbolic to call this "brutal", especially when the comparison is with Russia where protesters are routinely rounded up and will now be forced to pay fines up to $20,000 [] for merely protesting the regime.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 07, 2012 @09:38AM (#40243553)

    They're far more dangerous than most people realize: the checks and balances and legal avenues of appeal that US citizens are used to don't apply on the border for non-citizens. They can jail you indefinitely, subject to appeals from your native country if they wish. If your "native" country doesn't care (eg. you are an asylum seeker) you can rot in jail indefinitely.

    Google whats happened to citizens of "former countries", for example. If you break the law in the US, you go to jail. Fair enough. Typically if you're not a US citizen you may be deported. What happens if your original country no longer exists, or won't take you? you can sit in jail indefinitely. There were several thousand in this position the last time a journalist investigated (oh, and FOIA requests are pretty hard here too).

    I'm posting AC because I have relatives in the US in a similar position. They are in a small, Pacifist Christian sect. They left Ireland (sent to relatives in US) in the 1940s as children, less than 10 at the time; they are now retirees, and naturalized, but not US citizens: becoming citizens would mean swearing an oath to defend the US, which they will not do as pacifists. Their children are US citizens and don't have to swear this oath.

    Now, they have to be careful: their children are active in the antiwar movement and have frequently been arrested on protests. Small, non-violent stuff. But if they go near a protest, they risk being arrested: they will be deported "back home" after they have paid the fine, etc. They are in their 70s and don't ever remember Ireland, never mind have friends and relatives there. Any small infringement: traffic violation, etc. can ruin their lives, on the whim of an ICE official.

    So when you see that nice American granny in your neighborhood, upstanding member of the community, don't imagine they don't live in fear of arbitrary "American Justice".

  • by wpi97 ( 901954 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @09:40AM (#40243559)
    I suppose you have never heard the song by Timur Shaov about crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine...

    Going back to the facts, any time you try to enter a foreign country there is a chance that you may be interrogated, or even refused entry for any reason. This does not make a regime "brutal" in any way.

    On the other hand, in Russia you need a "registration" to be allowed to stay in Moscow, even if you are a Russian citizen. And police can stop you on the street and arrest you or extort money from you if you do not have the registration. You might want to ask the migrant workers from Central Asia about that. I have never heard of any sort of registration being required for staying in Washington DC or New York City.

    By the way, do you own a car in Russia? How many times did you have to pay a bribe to the police?

  • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @09:59AM (#40243737)
    While we should give them the benefit of the doubt because it might very well be a pure coincidence. However when I think about my own experience, I can't help and refute that. I have been "randomly" chosen so many times, that now I think they have a very biased random screening process. I almost get picked for extra screening almost every time I travel ( and I do travel frequently ). My background could be a factor, I come from the same country as our crypto friend, but from the north and if you were following the news lately there have been a lot of it in the city of Tripoly ( the city where I grew up in ). And we have some extremist that you can comfortably link them to Al-Qaeda.
  • by sosume ( 680416 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @10:11AM (#40243919) Journal

    You are confusing the US for China.. Business here indeed have a rule of bringing only clean laptops into mainland China, since there were many incidents of hard drives being cloned by border security guards. Not so much in the US, although there have been incidents of government espionage beneficial to the US airplane manufacturers.

  • by slew ( 2918 ) on Thursday June 07, 2012 @11:25AM (#40245013)

    A small technicality, but if have "naturalized" in the US, you are a naturalized US citizen. If you have not become a US citizen, but have the visa to live in the US on a permanent basis (via a "green-card"), you are technically called a permanent resident.

    When I hear about situations like this (e.g., permanent residents that do not wish to return to their country of origin, nor become US citizens). I don't really feel sorry for them. Like everyone in live we make choices and many times, those choices have consequences, and sometimes it is a choice between the lesser of two evils.

    Very few groups respond positively to criticism from outside, why not join us and complain from the inside? I say to such folks, you live in one of the few countries in the world where it is fairly easy (although slowly) to become a citizen. If you really want to own your life, join with us. Then you can gripe with us about our government and vote your choice, rather than scold us with one foot out-of-the-door with a "holier-than-thou" chip on your shoulder...

    If someone objects to taking the "modified" oath (as allowed by law and listed below), then I suggest that they don't believe in our constitution, have no desire to support the people of our country more than a typical random joe in a random country in the world, or more likely are just being difficult on purpose to set themselves apart for some personal reason... That's a choice you are free to make, but don't expect the US to help...

    I hereby declare, and solemnly affirm, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson