back to article US customs: Yes, we can seize your laptop, iPod

The Department of Homeland Security has outlined what we've all known for some time - that border agents are allowed to snoop through files on your computer, mobile phone or any other digital device. Officials can keep documents or computers, take them to an off-site location, copy the contents and share the data with other …

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Anonymous Coward

great

I love how the free world keeps setting such a wonderful example for everyone else.

And you people are all so busy bitching about the Chinese barring net access to some whining journos.

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Who will be the first

Legal firm to suggest to their clients that their next laptop purchase is made by the firm. Firm 'loans' laptop to client on a permanent basis. Client then claims to customs "this is my attorney/solicitor's laptop", thereby preventing a search.

I may trademark this ;)

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Silver badge

War on terror? My arse!

Big round applause for the DHS and government, you finally got what you wanted! I always wanted to take my kids to Disneyland and visit me relies in Florida, but that has now gone out the window.

"Sorry kids, I'm afraid it's EuroDisney for you lot, if you want to make friends with Mickey and Minnie! Why? 'Cos a group of nasty people in America seem to consider that we are all naughty and want to punish us, even though we have done nothing wrong."

The only reason I will set foot in the US now is when Gordo finally gives up on this country and sells the whole shooting match to his bestest mate Dubya for a knock-down price, and it's finally renamed "GB - The 51st State!"

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business travellers...

...will need to have their company attorneys on speed dial. Although they'll probabaly seize the phone first to stop you from calling in the A-Team.

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Anonymous Coward

an hero

just don't take my ipod!

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Unhappy

Just...

don't go to, or through, the US.

Mind you, there's little doubt that the NuLaborians are currently working up a UK version of this.

The US now has a new national anthem;

"Paranoid"

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If I read this correctly...

...I can put my laptop in a giant envelope with a stamp, and they can't search it?

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Silver badge

But remember

if you go to China, make sure you don't take anything of importance, because THEY will SPY on you. Damn those pesky Commies, how dare they...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: business travellers...

...will stop carrying data on laptops. Download it when you get there.

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@Who will be the first

Aaah, but then if it's not *your* laptop, then it's obviously a BOMB! QUICK, CONTROLLED EXPLOSION!

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Workaround

Am i the only one - can you not just stick your laptop in a "sealed letter class mail " envelope...?

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Anonymous Coward

re: War on terror? My arse!

" I always wanted to take my kids to Disneyland and visit me relies in Florida, but that has now gone out the window."

Well, you would need to do two trips, Disneyland isn't in Florida.

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Jiffy

Before you get to the airport, put you hard drive in a pre-franked Jiffy bag.

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Anonymous Coward

Simple

Copy data to pendrive, backup, ghost OS and pre-mail yourself the drive.

It's all nonsense of course, but that's what happens what you let media corporations run a country.

The US is actually a nice place though, you just have to mentally blank out the whole customs/immigration thing.

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Encrypted Hard Drives

What happens if your laptop is encrypted? or even if there is a password to login?

Do I legally have to give them the passwords? or can I sit back and wait whilst they try and crack the encryption?

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Max

Here's an idea

Everyone should *request* their lappy/ipod be searched. Thats right. If every single traveler formally requested a search, it would screw up the system big time. They have no way to account for that volume and it would cause total chaos in customs.

@Andy, the way I read it is that they cant search mail being sent officially through the border by a federal carrier service (I.E. royal mail or US post office). Carrying it through yourself doesnt protect you. That being said, just put all your stuff you dont want pilfered through on a DVD and first class it to wherever you will be staying in the US.

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Max
Black Helicopters

And another thing!

The last bit in the pdf document states:

"F. No Private Right Created

This document is an internal policy statement of CBP and does not create any rights,

privileges, or benefits for any person or party."

That means that if anything they do in their 'policy' is unconstitutional it can be challenged in court.

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@Anon

"I love how the free world keeps setting such a wonderful example for everyone else.

And you people are all so busy bitching about the Chinese barring net access to some whining journos."

...or bring in tanks to kill their own students, right?

Wait...

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Black Helicopters

Coincidence?

Could it be a coincidence that my company recently rolled out 256-bit full-HDD encryption?

Interestingly nowhere on that document does it state that they can require an individual to hand over their encryption keys. Good luck to any customs official trying to swipe data and break the key - methinks the company would rather put any unfortunate employee right back on a return flight..

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Jobs Halo

@Andy...

"...I can put my laptop in a giant envelope with a stamp, and they can't search it?"

Hmmm, I wonder if Apple knew about this before the Macbook Air was released? I mean - it's even in the advert!

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Unhappy

This is probably the one time

that I can't wait for someone to file a lawsuit......

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@AC re: War on terror? My arse!

Uh, I suspect that "relies" should be pronounced "rellies" and is intended to be a corruption of "relatives". So the poster is obviously wanting to go to the USA (one trip) to accomplish two goals: a) visit Disneyland, in California; and b) visit his relatives, in Florida.

As far as sensitive data on laptops is concerned: don't keep it locally. SSH? VPNs? Are you seriously telling me you can't take a secured laptop and find a cheap, high-speed internet connection, and get all your data over an encrypted remote session? I understand some of these business users may want to work during the long trip over - TrueCrypt? 256-bit AES-encrypted folders hidden invisibly within other 256-bit AES-encrypted folders? Come on now.

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Paris Hilton

Fanboi alert

Suddenly the mac Air book in an envelope ad seems prophetic

- Paris because she can empty my bag anytime

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Black Helicopters

Encryption

from the pdf referenced:

"Translation and Decryption. Officers may encounter information in

documents or electronic devices that is in a foreign language and/or

encrypted. To assist CBP in determining the meaning of such

information, CBP may seek translation and/or decryption assistance from

other Federal agencies or entities. Officers may seek such assistance

absent individualized suspicion. Requests for translation and decryption

assistance shall be documented."

Doesn't say you have to provide decryption keys, so if the entire HDD is encrypted they either have to copy it and try and decrypt it themselves or send your laptop off to be decrypted.

"Officers may detain documents and electronic

devices, or copies thereof, for a reasonable period of time to perform a thorough

border search."

No idea what a reasonable period of time might be? At any rate, with sufficiently strong encryption (and nothing of importance on it) it would quickly become a huge pain in the arse to deal with. Encrypt every cheap flash drive you have in your bag with the strongest system you can find and tie them up with red tape (documenting their requests for encryption) :)

Of course they could decide to take your computer anyway :(

"Original documents and devices should only be transmitted when

necessary to render the requested assistance."

Is this the US government way of forcing people into "cloud" computing?

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Stop

...but, but, but....

...surely the terrorists won't carry laptops,but will just email the stuff to themselves and pick it up once they're across the border. So what, may I ask, is the point?!?

Liking the franked mail idea though. :)

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The USA is a foreign country

Surely the only reason people are exercised about this is that they have forgotten that the USA is a foreign country. They are different from us. Hostile, to a degree. They will spy on us and would keep us out if they could. Once we remember this and behave accordingly, it's not so bad.

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Anonymous Coward

The answer is...

...pretty obvious!

Set your laptop up with the bare minimum you need (applications and no data), and access it all remotely once you get there.

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Or better yet..

Put it in a box with your address on and a postage stamp.

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Alien

Once upon a time, I worked for DHS

. . .and the amazing thing is that some of these people can even breathe. The level of sheer and utter stupidity I saw, working at TSA, was breath-taking.

And Rules ?? Rules are for the Little People (. . .and contractors. . .)

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oh, good one Sir!

"I love how the free world keeps setting such a wonderful example for everyone else."

Free world? Very funny mate. Some time in the 1980s perhaps. In 2008 I'd choose another expression for places where you get on the national DNA database for dropping litter, and my local town councillor can order up surveillance on whomever he suspects of letting their dog poop on his lawn.

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Stop

@Here's an idea

My tip - do whatever the border patrol police say!!

They're scary scary people who full body x-rayed purely because I took a while taking my belt off (it's too wide for the loops so gets stuck). Think they're the only people in America who don't say 'have a nice day'.

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Stop

Land of the free ???

Makes you wonder if 'The land of the free' actually exists anymore... so much for civil liberties and privacy.

Just another reason to avoid the US.

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@ Darren

Kent State?

Waco?

Not condoning, just musing

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Anonymous Coward

@Darren Sandford

And that has what to do with net access?

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Pirate

Nothing to worry about ....

And what if you have one of those diplomatic passport thingies? Or are they easily cloned and useless too or just no good either even if they are genuine.

And what is to stop a malcontent putting anything onto a device, whenever it is away at the Doctor's. Bugger all, I suppose.

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Coat

Laptops across borders...

My company (or to be specific, the company that employs me, and who for reasons of myself not getting a talking to shall remain nameless) has already briefed us on the new rules on this and set out guidelines for what kind of data we are allowed to bring with us physically when we travel.

Unsurprisingly anything that can be of any value at all now resides on a network location that we have to establish a secure connection to every time we wish to access it.

Thank god terrorists arn't that smart eh?

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Black Helicopters

@philip jeffery

You forget the way these arses work. First they copy off the entire contents of your harddrive. then they wipe the harddrive. then they return the machine to you. so much for your encryption.

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Paris Hilton

re: re: War on terror? My arse!

" " I always wanted to take my kids to Disneyland and visit me relies in Florida, but that has now gone out the window."

Well, you would need to do two trips, Disneyland isn't in Florida."

he didnt say it was.

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Stop

remember when...

Americans used to make fun of "Papers please" and all those jokes about communist border guards?

Hrmmmm....

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Black Helicopters

Data on laptops

I certainly hope that any business traveler with sense will follow the guidance that only critical data for your current needs should be stored on laptops, all other data must be stored on company network storage ONLY. I know of many companies who have this policy. Plus, most offfer dialup or VPN or both to get to that data.

I know I would only be allowed to have documents I need for the flight on my laptop. I think driving will now be approved as the prefered method of interstate travel.

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read between the lines

Quote: "copy the contents and share the data with other agencies"

I smell a secret governmental pr0n ring just waiting to be busted wide open!

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...And what are you going to do about it....

Don't go there in the first place... Works for me.

Besides the war on terror has already won... By the terrorists.

This is just political manhandling.

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@Andy & @Patrick Boyd

read again. not if the envelope is in your possesion. It only counts whilst the mail is in transit with a mail carrier (not courier).

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Anonymous Coward

@Darren Sandford

Nah, the West just let other students kill students.

What's that? V-Tech just kicked in Yoohh!

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Anonymous Coward

US Business

I've stopped taking work that requires me to go to the US and I've cut back my flying significantly. I cannot stand being treated like a criminal going through the airport by people who seem to have forgotten they're actually supposed to be there providing us with a service. More than a few of them act like they're doing you a very grudged favour by letting you fly.

Do they honestly expect a terrorist to be carrying a laptop with a document on the desktop entitled "Plans to blow up the United States"? What REALLY are the objectives behind allowing these numpties this sort of power? I suppose the least paranoid explanation is it allows them to say to the right wing press that they're "doing something" about terrorism.

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Paris Hilton

Anonymous Coward - Simpler

Of course if you tell them your computer is in your head, then mentally blanking out customs / immigration could turn out to be all part of the border service - and even better - its FREE

Paris, 'cos she doesn't need to have her brain blanked out

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"all reasonable measures to protect that information"

Quote

Officers who find business or commercial information "shall take all reasonable measures to protect that information from unauthorized disclosure".

/Quote

So don't take your confidential/corporate information to or through the US. If they don't use it to brief your US competitors, it'll just get left on a train.

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Joke

So, you're going to send a Macbook Air...

by Royal Mail / US Postal service between the UK and the US.

In an envelope.

And I suppose you expect to be able to use this laptop upon receipt!

Right.

Gotta admire your optimism / large bank balance / fondness for jigsaw puzzles.

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Coat

just take the damn kids to disneyWORLD

"I always wanted to take my kids to Disneyland and visit me relies in Florida, but that has now gone out the window."

so, just because the border cops *may* search your laptop your not gonna take your kids on a holiday to Florida ? that's the most lame excuse i have heard yet for not taking the kids on holiday, at least blame the credit crunch...... forget euro Disney anyway, for what it costs, its not much more to go to Florida...

ether leave the laptop at home while you went on holiday, or remove data you don't want anyone else to see...

the whole issue is pathetic, if they want to search your laptop, let them. I can see it may be a issue for a business traveler, but if it is going to be a issue for anyone seeing the data, don't keep it on the computer..... download it when you get your destination !!!

mines the one with the purple gloves hanging out the pockets

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Random Data?

So if you have a hidden directory with a load of files full of random data on your drive then that ought to keep them busy for a while.

As for Disney, the Land is in California, the World is in Florida.

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