US Customs Helps Itself To Your Electronics And Private Data

The Washington Post has an interesting article about a coming lawsuit against the TSA US Customs and Border Protection for possible invasion of privacy. Apparently, U.S. Customs has been known to require travelers to turn on their laptops so their data can be inspected.

A few months earlier in the same airport, a tech engineer returning from a business trip to London objected when a federal agent asked him to type his password into his laptop computer. “This laptop doesn’t belong to me,” he remembers protesting. “It belongs to my company.” Eventually, he agreed to log on and stood by as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited, said the engineer, a U.S. citizen who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of calling attention to himself.

Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda, said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen, said the agent told her he had “a security concern” with her. “I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight,” she said.

“I was assured that my laptop would be given back to me in 10 or 15 days,” said Udy, who continues to fly into and out of the United States. She said the federal agent copied her log-on and password, and asked her to show him a recent document and how she gains access to Microsoft Word. She was asked to pull up her e-mail but could not because of lack of Internet access. With ACTE’s help, she pressed for relief. More than a year later, Udy has received neither her laptop nor an explanation.

The Post says that the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus plan to file a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policy on searching and confiscating electronics. A U.S. Customs spokesperson said that they don’t engage in racial profiling, but that a laptop may be seized if it “contains information possibly tied to terrorism, narcotics smuggling, child pornography or other criminal activity. “

Clarity Sought on Electronics Searches [Washington Post] (Thanks, AK!)
(Photo:devwalla)

Comments

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  1. NefariousNewt says:

    The 21st Century version of “Where are your papers?!?”.

  2. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    Yet another reason not to fly.

  3. godawgs7 says:

    There is a case going through the federal courts right now about having to give up your password to access your computer. From what i remember, you do not have to give up the password as it would be self-incriminating and is protected by the 5th amendment.

    maybe someone can dig up that case.

  4. Mollyg says:

    The TSA compares the search to searching ones briefcase, but I do not think that the TSA photocopies the entire contents of briefcases, which is what they do when they copy the data off a device.
    Welcome to the Police State of America.

  5. APFPilot says:

    @aaron8301: yet another reason to fly on private airplanes.

  6. babaki says:

    ok, this is going a little too far. copying stuff off your computer? thats ridiculous. there is no reason for that. if your laptop doesn’t have bomb in it, there is really no reason why you cant take it on the plane.

  7. woogychuck says:

    I actually had a problem getting back into the US in 2006. I’m a web designer and usually travel with a Mac and a Dell so I can test work on both platforms. Unfortunately, my Mac died in London.

    On my way through customs in Boston, I was asked to turn it on. When it wouldn’t function correctly, I was detained for nearly 6 hours. They finally let me go and I got to leave with both laptops, but most of their questioning proved that they probably weren’t tech-savvy enough to catch anything that actually was dangerous.

  8. unklegwar says:

    @aaron8301: It’s gonna be awfully hard driving to Hawaii.

  9. noquarter says:

    This is not particular to flying. It’s a US customs issue that affects anyone entering the country by any means.

    There’s a thorough discussion of it going on here.

  10. bravo369 says:

    I can somewhat understand them asking you to power on a laptop to make sure it’s not just a shell with something else in it but that would be as far as they go. asking for password? wanting to see a recent document? what next? do they want to read a little girl’s diary too? Honestly i would rather not get on the plane than give up my laptop. I bring it everywhere and i’d be lost and paranoid if i had to give it up to a stranger for a month

  11. ThomFabian says:

    Even though the security screens are mostly for show (to make folks feel pbetter/safer about traveling), at least there is something to the thought that you might catch someone trying to bring in a physical bomb. However it is lunacy to suggest that there is any way it makes the skies safer to confiscate and read the contents of a laptop (and still let the passenger fly).

    Ridiculous.

  12. rjhiggins says:

    All of you who thought the Patriot Act was a great idea? Who voted to put Bush-Cheney back in office in 2004? You asked for this.

  13. teh says:

    @godawgs7: The case you are looking for is here. It concerns a person that revealed his password when entering the country. The court ruled that because he had entered his password, the child pornography found on his computer could be used against him. (Once you’ve waived your rights, you have no control over how they are used.)

  14. ekthesy says:

    Whoever the next president is, he or she has to either do away with or severely reëvaluate the TSA. There has not been one success story–I challenge my fellow Consumerists to find one–that has convinced me that we are (a) either safer as travellers or (b) that the massive DHS expenditures and logistical issues from increased security are worthwhile.

    What we get instead are repeated stories like this one of TSA buffoonery and incompetence.

  15. BlondeGrlz says:

    @woogychuck: Now that is just ridiculous. It should not take 6 hours to figure out a Mac is not a bomb. Thanks airport security, I feel super safe now!

  16. jryan says:

    “…It’s a US customs issue that affects anyone entering the country by any means…”

    But she was LEAVING…

  17. weakdome says:

    I’d be pissed. Once, a TSA agent told me (while pointing to my laptop) “I’m going to have to go through this.”
    I said, “That? That’s a laptop. You don’t *go through* it.”
    He gave me the “are we going to have a problem here?” and I said “knock yourself out, I gotta see this”
    They swabbed it with the magic explosive-detecting Q-Tip and handed it back to me. Had they actually tried to open it and ask me to log in, I am pretty sure I would have put up a fight.

  18. noquarter says:

    I repeat: This case has nothing at all to do with the TSA. It is an issue with the US Customs and Border Protection. This is not happening to prevent bombs on flights and has nothing to do with the safety of fellow travelers.

  19. jdjonsson says:

    Wow. I guess I won’t take my laptop on anymore flights. Fortunately I don’t travel for business very often. If this ever happened to me, I think I’d just have to ask to see their search warrant. If it meant not getting on the plane, so be it. If it meant arrest, I guess so be it. I’d like to challenge it in court.

  20. jamesdenver says:

    My one computer mantra is “treat all of your computers as dummy terminals,” meaning all of your content such as photos, music, documents, and writings should NEVER be stored on a PC hard drive, but rather an external and separate hard drive.

    If they look through your hard drives they’ll see nothing. Sure they dig through your luggage they can find your flash drives and ask you to connect them – but it’s a buffer nonetheless.

    james

  21. NotATool says:

    @noquarter: Why would a terrorist try to smuggle out his latest bomb making plans on a laptop? It would be so much easier, quicker, and more secure to just e-mail them out. Really, what are they trying to find by searching laptops?

  22. nequam says:

    @ThomFabian: Excellent point! “If you give me your bomb, you may board the plane.”

  23. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Even though GWB is on his way out, I think it will take another 2 terms to get rid of these stupid anti-terrorist rules and laws.

    A commenter on Slashdot suggested that you should create two logins on your laptop.. one would be your real login, and the other would be for the dog and pony show at the airport. You should personalize your airport login with desktop wallpaper of your kids or your pets or something cutesy. Throw in some random Word documents. And create some generic bookmarks on your web browser.

    Of course this method isn’t 100% foolproof. So you should always carry your critical documents on a USB flash drive, or something small like an SD card. The SD card might be better, since it can fit nicely in your wallet.

    Another alternative would be to just send your laptop to your destination through FedEx or UPS.

  24. godai says:

    I wonder what would happen if they asked me to do this with my work laptop.

    I could invoke HIPPA. Since I deal with Patient information.

  25. darkclawsofchaos says:

    I have a desktop and a laptop, do your private things on your desktop and use your laptop for nothing personal. And always clear your cookies and stuff after every use.

  26. littlejohnny says:

    I’ve never taken my laptop out of the country, but has anyone else noticed the trend where they now swab the laptop for explosives? I fly about 5 times a year for work, and since 2007, they’ve said, “we need to perform a test on your laptop” and take it to the side to swab it. The first time, I asked what the test was, I got a strange look, and in a firm voice I was told it’s a chemical test. Now I’m used to it, but I thought it was funny the last time I went through security the TSA employee’s reasoning for choosing to swab my laptop vs. others was that he didn’t recognize the brand name. (FYI: it’s a Sager) As if terrorists would never use a Dell…

  27. floyderdc says:

    @aaron8301:

    Why is it that every post must have a comment that we should not have cable, fly, or eat fast food. I think the whole point is that we should be able to do these things without a lot of hassle. That being said some people just need to fly.

  28. Amelie says:

    In Germany, they didn’t even make me take my laptop out of its protective sleeve.

    @rjhiggins: Please don’t use these boards to get on your political soapbox. It’s off-topic, no matter how much I agree with you.

  29. Jon Parker says:

    @zouxou: Oh. Well please be sure to inform us when we are off topic. Or better yet, use your super moderator powers to delete the posts.

  30. hypnotik_jello says:

    Time to start encrypting all my files on a separate partition.

  31. bobert says:

    I’m a programmer who travels with a lot of source code and other proprietary information on laptops and other portable storage devices. Like a lot of other folks in technology industries, I’ve signed non-disclosure agreements on this information that limits how I can disseminate it. In particular, I can’t give it to the government unless I first get a subpoena, then notify the corporate owners of the information that I received the subpoena, and then get a thumbs-up from the company’s lawyers to comply with the subpoena. If the company doesn’t want to hand over the information, I need to sit tight while the company and the government duke it out in court.

    So if some government officials simply demanded to copy or even read this kind of information, I would politely refuse, and politely not get on the flight, and politely let them arrest me if they pushed it. Then they’d be in for a world of grief from the lawyers for the companies that own the data, as well as from the law firm I use. And I would politely tell the government officials that, too.

  32. DrGirlfriend says:

    Yes, of course: “another reason not to fly”! Sure, let’s never leave the continent again, because of the TSA! Yes, let them take over our lives to the extent that we never go anywhere that is not on our land mass! Those are the types of comments that really add to the discussion, I tell ya!

    Ahem. Now what I wonder is if there any any resource out there that explains to travelers what their exact rights are in these situations? Because they may ask me to reveal my password and all that junk, but if I feel like putting up a fight and possibly missing my flight, it might help to know what part of the law is on my side. It feels like you are flying blind (pardon the pun) every time you come into contact with the TSA, because you don’t really know if it’s truly legal for them to ask for certain things, or if it’s just a case where an individual is being a moronic bully.

  33. sixseeds says:

    Eventually, he agreed to log on and stood by as the officer copied the Web sites he had visited, said the engineer, a U.S. citizen who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of calling attention to himself.

    That is, to me, the most terrifying line in this whole post. When did it become potentially unsafe to voice dissatisfaction with our own government?

  34. SacraBos says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: Look at TrueCrypt. You can create an encrypted partition that has two “views”. One password gets the real data, a “duress” password present a different set of files, like family photos and boring stuff.

  35. Trick says:

    I just recently flew to Orlando from San Jose, CA. Of course all of sheep had to pull off our shoes and belts.. the usual everyone is a terrorist so we don’t offend the real terrorist crap…

    All they asked was that I pull my laptop from its case and put in a storage bin. I had no idea they can “take” your laptop for whatever reason they come up with. I would have refused to take the flight before giving up my laptop if they did.

    I am so sick of this crap about treating everyone as a potential terrorist because we don’t want to offend Muslim men, aged 14-49.

  36. hypnotik_jello says:

    @sixseeds: Since the government decided it can throw people in jail without charge?

  37. Trick says:

    @rjhiggins:

    All of you who thought the Patriot Act was a great idea? Who voted to put Bush-Cheney back in office in 2004? You asked for this.

    The Patriot Act was passed on October 25, 2001. Passed by both Democrats and Republicans. Don’t you have anything better to do than obsess over Bush?

    [www.senate.gov]

  38. DrGirlfriend says:

    @sixseeds: I absolutely agree. And the saddest part is that I’m not sure it’s dawned on us yet just how badly this culture of fear and intimidation is taking over.

  39. jamesdenver says:

    Again instead of security programs and encryptors why not just put a memory card in your pocket.

    That’s how I do – even before this nonsense. The only thing on my laptop is Windows and program apps.

    Oh and some photos of my kids [zioneocon.blogspot.com]

  40. mthrndr says:

    I once went through Pentagon security where I noticed that they were making people turn on all electronics devices. I had a mp3 player/disk drive with a bunch of porn on it (nothing illegal, mind you) so I was a little worried about what would happen (-like if they would make me connect it and scan it). but they just had me turn it on, then handed it back. That would have been embarrassing.

  41. amejr999 says:

    Once again, Consumerist confuses government agencies. The article is referring to Customs and Border Protection, the agency that handles inspections of people and property coming INTO the country from overseas. TSA handles screening for “dangerous weapons” for all flights leaving from US airports.

  42. rolandsherpa says:

    There are some great ideas for protecting your laptop presented here. Steps I intend to take before my next transatlantic flight.
    We need to be contacting our congress (not that they have shown the required backbone) and ask the simple question, “Why is the CBP spending time and effort in looking at laptops, cameras and cellphones when they cannot stop the flow of thousands of people crossing the border illegally or the tons of narcotics coming into the country each day? Should they not focus on stopping the actual terrorists and bombs instead of worrying about our web surfing habits or work documents?”
    Time to put a stop to the government’s game of Simon Says!

  43. kityglitr says:

    @TRICK: So, what do Muslim men aged 14-49 look like? Are they all of Arab descent? What about African American Nation of Islam members? What about caucasians who werre converted or (God forbid!) born into a Muslim family? Dude, I get what you are saying about our reticence to just screen the ethnic groups we believe are most likely to be terrorists, but imagine if you yourself were an Arab Christian. Imagine everyone around you looking and whispering and treating you like a criminal because of your skin color or your accent or your clothing. What if next week, some ass-backwards Montana rednecks decided to blow up some public building and the TSA decided that these are the new terrorists? Would you consent to be searched everywhere you went? Think on it. Hard.

  44. kityglitr says:

    @Trick: So, what do Muslim men aged 14-49 look like, exactly? Are they all of Arab descent? What about the Nation of Islam (African-American)? What about Caucasian Muslims? Just be the racist you are and admit you believe that all people of Arab descent should be searched. If it’s what you really think, don’t be shy about it.

  45. FLConsumer says:

    @sixseeds: Indeed that comment stood out in my eyes as well. What have we come to? Remember when the only thing we needed to fear in this country was fear itself? Now it’s definitely the government (and has been for some time, long before 9/11.) Anyone remember the FBI’s “Carnivore” project?

    I always thought the idea of using a laptop as a bomb was a terrible one — not enough room. The only thing a laptop would allow for would be a nice battery, but that’s it. Fortunately I’ve not been asked in years to power up my laptop for security, otherwise I’d be screwed. The battery’s been shot for years now.

  46. kityglitr says:

    I’m obvs having commenting problems today. Sorry for the double post.

  47. UpsetPanda says:

    @amejr999: I was going to say, the TSA screeners have never copied my information. They ask me to turn on my laptop, but they’ve never required me to log in and they’ve never copied my information. I’ve also never taken a laptop overseas or come back into the country with a laptop, so I don’t have experience with customs.

  48. stinkingbob says:

    The number one rule people is that if you are traveling, don’t have porn on your computer or any file on your desktop that looks suspicious.
    1)use ccleaner (free; google it) to clean all cookies and temp files from your computer
    2) use firefox as your primary browser; Internet Explorer just plain sucks; It remembers everything. WIth firefox, the settings are easy to control cookies and to erase your history.
    3) download truecrypt at truecrypt.org.
    This is a great encryption program. Absolutely free.

  49. Benstein says:

    Just use: [www.truecrypt.org]

    Then hide the container file in like C:Windows

    No one will find anything, and even if they find the file, they will never be able to crack it.

  50. STrRedWolf says:

    Customs/Border Patrol needs their own blog.

  51. jamesdenver says:

    re: porn. Returning from Germany and the Czech Republic we had a bunch gay to-do guides mixed in with some club flyers and local stuff.

    Returning to Denver this particular customs guy started leafing through it- took one glance and couldn’t get us out of there faster…

  52. rjhiggins says:

    @zouxou: You’re not serious about being off-topic, are you? All the freedoms we’ve seen steadily erode are a direct result of the current administration (and yes, the kowtowing Congress that went along with them).

    Until there’s a change in leadership these kinds of abuses will continue. Nothing could be more on-topic.

  53. TechnoDestructo says:

    @sixseeds:

    When modes of intercontinental travel other than air travel became virtually nonexistent, and when utterly non-transparent, unaccountable blacklists came about.

  54. Id_LQQK says:

    @godai: Similarly, a writer could claim protection by the first Ammendment because the computer may contain material from a interview with a source that asked to remain anonymous.

    So, it seems we have the 1st and 5th ammendments and other privacy acts that are on our side on this issue.

  55. FLConsumer says:

    @Id_LQQK: Man-made rules, such as the US Constitution, are only good if they are obeyed. We can be screaming “It’s my Constitutional Right!” as much as we want, but it doesn’t do us any good when we’re being dragged off by the customs agent to a holding cell.

  56. Andr0 says:

    Um… yes.

    I’m an IT Professional. I spent 43 weeks on the road last year, mostly to the places so remote Google Maps never heard of them. There is no reliable net connection in many of them. And amount of data I haul around… let’s just say I would need a lot of portable media for it all (I already haul 2 USB Hdds in my luggage) – not to mention that some of it is important enough I am not willing to lose it to crappy USB storage failure.

    I have been asked to power on my laptop several times – this I gladly complied with. Likewise, several times I was asked to log in into it for inspection. First two times, I spent ungodly amounts of time explaining TSA Agents the meanbing of words such as NDA, subpoena and proprietary company information. After that, I developed a habit of leaving UbuntuLive CD in my laptop; anytime TSA asked me to power and log in, I allowed Ubuntu to boot up from CD, logged into it and smugly smirked while watching TSA agents struggling with a ‘nix shell (GUI disabled). It gives me such sadistic pleasure.

    On a side note, laptop I travel with is a Dell Precision M6300 – a huge, 17″ monster of a laptop workstation. If I wanted to, I could put in guts of one of tiny lappies everyone totes around, and still have plenty of room for Semtex. And yet, not once did they swab it… go figure.

  57. @Andr0: I like the LiveCD idea. Maybe I’ll set my Mac to boot into single user mode (basically a BSD terminal), since I can just tell it to boot into OS X without much trouble but some inspector dipshit won’t be able to navigate his way around.

  58. I just wanted to confirm how that works, if you have a Mac, set it to require a login after being woken from sleep or when you first turn it on.

    Also, change the login screen from “list of users” to “name and password entry boxes” so the TSA or whoever can’t see your normal login name.

    In the name box type >console and hit enter, and you’ll be at a DOS looking screen. Login as a fake account name you made, and the TSA won’t be able to find or view anything. To get back to OS X, type exit and hit enter.

  59. forgottenpassword says:

    Ugh! I hate the tactics those in authority use. The tsa threatening to not allow you to board your plane unless they go thru your laptop with a fine toothed comb is akin to the cop who just pulled you over asking to do a search of your car & threatening a ticket (for some OTHER infraction he can “find”) if you dont allow him access.

    I wonder if the tsa has bomb-sniffing dogs that can false alert on command like the police have with drug dogs? Wouldnt be suprised.

    Seems these days if you dont allow the authorities to get their way …. they will make you pay one way or another. Its becoming a scary world more & more.

  60. aka Cat says:

    @Andr0: …that’s brilliant.

    And suddenly, I have a good reason to not upgrade the primitive dual-boot setup on my travel laptop. (It boots to a ‘nix shell, I have to type in the name of the GUI manager I want it to run.)

  61. Antediluvian says:

    @jamesdenver: Awesome. But actually, I’m surprised you didn’t get selected for further inspection, and by inspection, I mean harassment.

  62. djxspike says:

    …this is one reason I am glad I am white caucasian male with a normal last name who doesnt leave the US.

  63. rhombopteryx says:

    @teh:

    Except for the article and the case that you link to say the opposite…. According to the article, the person had a 5th Amendment right not to give up their password, and the government couldn’t compel it again.

  64. rhombopteryx says:

    @noquarter:
    you’re right. It is Customs/Border Patrol, and not TSA. And you’re also right, it does have nothing to do with bombs and the safety of fellow travelers.

    So, since we’ve established they’re not trying to protect travelers or prevent terrorism, why are they rummaging throught people’s computers without warrants or probable cause?
    Becauese they can?
    Because they never liked the 4th Amendment anyway?

  65. boston515 says:

    The TSA at Dulles didn’t want to let me through in November 2005 becuase my flight got pushed back in Marseilles, France, and the airline (Air France) didn’t update my paperwork correctly. After an hour of arguing (my connecting flight was set to leave in 1/2 hour), I asked to speak with a supervisor. The supervisor had me identify my bag and contents before allowing me to go to the conveyor belt. After searching my luggage to match the content to my description, she then made me start up my computer so that she could see what disc was in the optical drive, followed by a brief overlook of the photos I took while abroad. I didn’t even think of the implications of it not being legal since I was too stressed about catching my connecting flight.

  66. AlexPDL says:

    Wow that is scary stuff! I am an attorney. This absolutely terrifies me. Utterly unacceptable! Worth researching further. I am sure that pleding the 5th won’t help. That is only applicable in certain fact specific instances.

  67. ShadowFalls says:

    In the case of Maria Udy, she just got robbed. I guess we will get more and more people getting employed with TSA just to steal some laptops.

    @ThomFabian:

    That would be quite silly since you could easily fit a bomb in a laptop and use a program if you are savvy enough, or simply the PCMCIA card slot eject button to trigger it.

    @sixseeds:

    When your government can ruin your entire life with just a few minutes.

    I think the biggest issue here is the fact that this is a problem. Their verified checks of it just working does not mean there is no bomb in there, nor does your data have anything to do with terrorism bs. You can’t even tell if it was stolen either since it is easy to wipe the OS and reinstall it.

  68. Helmut Spargle says:

    @rhombopteryx: There is a border search exception to the 4th Amendment, which is why they can rummage through your bags. More detailed searches (like a strip search) at least require a reasonable suspicion, but no warrant or probable cause. The question of where computer searches fall on this spectrum is unsettled. Wikipedia is actually not bad on this:
    [en.wikipedia.org]

  69. digitalgimpus says:

    Now if a company were to pay an employee to be hired by the TSA for the purpose of corporate espionage… would that be illegal?

    You can generally tell a business traveler works for a given company because laptops are quite often labeled. It’s not to hard.

    It would be a very easy way to get trade secrets. Then hide behind the federal government to avoid prosecution. I doubt the government would allow it to go to trial since that would raise a bunch of questions about the entire practice.

  70. Ryan Duff says:

    @unklegwar: If you go there from the continental United States (mainland) you will not pass through customs. Its like driving from one state into another. Now if you’re flying into Hawaii from any other country, thats a different story.

  71. Annath says:

    Unless they could provide me with A) a search warrant for my laptop, or B) VERY good probable cause, I’d have told them to go suck on the fifth amendment, because that constitutes illegal search and seizure.

  72. anyanka323 says:

    @ekthesy:
    Well said. The TSA and DHS have too much power, some of it verging on unconstitutional. I hope whoever is elected in November seeks to curb their abuses and possibly downsize them.

  73. goodkitty says:

    @forgottenpassword: Don’t forget, the cop will now swab your cheek and take a DNA sample as well, because there may or may not be a *vicious murderer* on the loose.

  74. mechanismatic says:

    The problem with things like this is the rebellious teenager lurking in the back of my mind is screaming, “just tell them to f*** off and die,” while the supposedly more mature, maybe just more jaded me is imagining the six months of sitting in jail waiting for a hearing while not being charged with anything simply because I told someone they didn’t have the right to search my laptop and being blacklisted from flying. And the memory of my high school English teacher is cringing at my apparently undying tendency to compose atrocious run-on sentences and starting sentences with the word “and.”

  75. IphtashuFitz says:

    @littlejohnny: I have no problem at all with them swabbing laptops for explosives. In fact, it makes me glad to see them do that. Over a decade ago I did some business traveling with an IBM PS/2 P70. They called it a portable but virtually everybody who had one called it a “luggable”. It was basically a full fledged PC, complete with capacity for full sized expansion cards, designed to fold up and fit in a carrying case (there’s a picture at [pc-museum.com]). Given that it could hold a full-sized expansion card I used to joke with coworkers that it’d be the perfect place to stash a gun, bomb, knife, etc. At that time the airport security guards might make you turn it on, but that wouldn’t catch whatever you might be hiding inside the case. The same thing goes, to an extent, wtih laptops these days. An older style laptop could easily be used to smuggle some explosives on board. Just remove a CD/DVD drive or some other unnecessary components and pack in some high grade plastic explosives. Searching for that sort of thing is perfectly fine with me. Requesting access to private/confidential data on the computer itself is crossing the line.

  76. dialing_wand says:

    @aaron8301: Actually yet another reason to not fly through the US or use their carriers. Not that they were anything to write home about anyway.

  77. Trick says:

    @kityglitr:

    @Trick: So, what do Muslim men aged 14-49 look like, exactly? Are they all of Arab descent? What about the Nation of Islam (African-American)? What about Caucasian Muslims? Just be the racist you are and admit you believe that all people of Arab descent should be searched. If it’s what you really think, don’t be shy about it.

    I don’t have to admit anything to make your over-dose of PC misery feel better. Plain and simple, harrassing old ladies and little kids and treating everyone as if they are terrorists to justify a bloated, idiotic program is just plain stupid.

    Oh but at least you can go on and on and on and on about little Timmy, the white terrorist. After all if little Timmy can be a terrorist, so can Grandma.

    Did it ever cross your little sensitive mind that *ANY* profiling is just plain stupid? It doesn’t matter if you are a Muslim man aged 14-49 or a 79 year old grandma.

    But don’t let those little facts get in the way of your racist hissy fit.

  78. xredgambit says:

    See, If I had to travel abroad, I would load up my back ground of nothing but goatsee. maybe add some cups videos or maybe a tubgirl. For this I would make a dummy login for it.
    Maybe make all my sounds nothing but curse words and possibly have a porn video inside.
    But still For all you who do travel abroad make a dummy account and load up with the worst pics you can find. Legal ones. Personally I think this would be best if you flew into utah, greatest possibility of offending someone.
    And nothing is more visually searing than tubgirl or the gaping goatsee.

  79. codpilot says:

    One word: Truecrypt ( [www.truecrypt.org] )

    Create encrypted hidden partition – without the right password the partition won’t even display. Works for Mac, Windows and Linux. Then feel free to show them all the nonsense stuff on the open partition 8)

  80. the_wiggle says:

    @DrGirlfriend: coventry is slinking around the corner. . . .

  81. DeadlySinz says:

    //She was asked to pull up her e-mail but could not because of lack of Internet access.

    why the hell do they need to look at her email its not tied to the physical laptop itself so they have no right to look at it.

    i’m encrypting my computer if i have to take it on a flight. they have no right to pry into personal documents

  82. rhombopteryx says:

    @Helmut Spargle:
    There is no “exception” to the Constitution…. That’d be, well, unconstitutional. ;)

    I understand your point that the 4th Amendment is relaxed @ the border, but if you read the wikipedia article (agreed, a fairly good one, not all crack-edited out) it does point out that the 4th Amendment, though relaxed, still applies. Some of those searches do require warrants or the like. Continue reading, and it looks like a court has already struck down (at least at LAX) these computer searches as unconstitutional.
    Note to self – fly through LAX.