back to article US government sued by 11 pissed-off travellers over computer searches

The US Department of Homeland Security is being sued by 11 travellers who had their smartphones and laptops seized and searched at the US border. The lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) claims that the searches were unconstitutional. Ten of the 11 …

Anonymous Coward

So if you travel to the US, leave your smart phone behind and go with a feature phone instead. Perhaps Nokia (whoever they are now) knew exactly what they were doing when they re-released the 3310.

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"So if you travel to the US" Don't! There's a whole world out there,hopefully there are still bits of it that respect individual rights. So far where I live is still fairly easy going.

I have friends in the States but if I decided to go visit I think I would buy a cheap phone when I get there rather than take any of my electronics with me, (and maybe put one of my sims in a sock!).

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oh i can see that sim in your sock being laughed at as ajoke by border agents. you'll be fine if they find that in sure.

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Anonymous Coward

As much as I love the country

this is another reason I'm not coming back to "the land of the free".

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Re: As much as I love the country

Barbra Streisand, is that you?

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Anonymous Coward

Perceived threat versus actual threat can be used to allow government overreach.

It's wrong and it will deter many professionals from going to America.

Don't be surprised when it backfires.

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It will also deter many American professionals and non-professionals from going out of the country for business, vacation, etc. I think the backlash is starting with this particular lawsuit as this just isn't "foreigners" entering but citizens of the US coming back into the country.

If I were paranoid I'd believe that TSA has the philosophy that 'if you leave, don't come back' about US citizens. Bunch of little Nazis the TSA is.

As for the agents... not exactly cream of the crop folks. The few that I've known (as neighbors) are insufferable egomaniacs.

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Unhappy

"Bunch of little Nazis the TSA is."

Actually the ones at Newark I saw a while ago weren't so little. More this size

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Geheime Staatspolizei

Whenever I se the phrase "Homeland Security" I get a picture in my head of men in smart uniforms getting onto trains and calling out "papers please"!

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Anonymous Coward

"People of color"?

You mean "non-whites"? It isn't the eighties anymore.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "People of color"?

whites have more colours than any other race

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Re: "People of color"?

That's interesting, because white isn't a race, it's just a colour. Ask any artist.

Same with all the other colours, btw...

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Boffin

Re: "People of color"?

Actually, white is a combination of primary colours.

Its not strictly a colour, like black isn't a colour.

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these exploits are worthless

No be means Black people but is afraid to say it.

lol, ¨people of colour¨, what has the world come to.

If we must be PC about it then how about ¨People of African ancestry¨ or simply African Americans

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Re: these exploits are worthless

I'd like to know where they keep the up to date list of PC approved (and non-approved) words.

I suppose most of us find out just by using the words and having the SJW's of the world come down like a ton of bricks to ruin our otherwise productive lives.

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Re: "People of color"?

Actually, white is a combination of primary colours.

Its not strictly a colour, like black isn't a colour.

"White" people aren't actually white though are they, its various shades of pink and brown. There is no-one whose natural shade is #ffffff.

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Re: these exploits are worthless

"how about ¨People of African ancestry¨ or simply African Americans"
Every living human on Earth is of African ancestry. Only a minority are American. Thank goodness!

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Re: "People of color"?

Now you're being #ffffff-ist!

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Re: these exploits are worthless

> "Every living human on Earth is of African ancestry."

The large majority of humans on Earth are descended from one small group that went thru a genetic bottleneck 80 thousand years ago when they left Africa, plus a few randy Neanderthals around that time. ;-/

Then there are those that remained behind on Africa. Their genetic diversity was never massively culled like that, so the bulk of human genetic diversity today resides on that supposedly dark continent.

Now suddenly (in the last 500 years) all those diverse genes are spreading and greatly enhancing diversity elsewhere. In evolutionary terms this is a large event (for humans, anyway). It's also pretty much irreversible at this point, not that we'd want that.

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Coat

Re: "People of color"?

There is no-one whose natural shade is #ffffff.

ORLY?

https://i.imgur.com/fPUUf.jpg

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Re: these exploits are worthless

And that Zulu I met in South Africa, an African American African.

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Anonymous Coward

That humming noise

Is the sound of George Orwell spinning in his grave.

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Re: That humming noise

No, it's the sound of his ghost whispering "told you so".

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Re: That humming noise

The Department of Energy is trying to figure out how to harness the spin of him and many of the Founding Fathers as well as many dead citizens to generate massive amounts of electric power.

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Re: That humming noise

Dick is dead, but a combo world of Ubik and Remoronity Import might see gov't agents visit the dead to convict them of post-crime. Philip K. is the first they'd approach. Wherever he is, he must be humming. If you thought: "Meh, this is bad, but when I die it will all be over", perhaps you didn't hear that hymn. Listen. It's faint, but if you cup your hand to your ear, you can hear Dick hum. Listen to Dick hum. It's faint, but it goes like this: "Bwahahahahahahahah"

The next great OS should be named Govern, so that hipsters can get into Govern Mint. See Dick McGovern. See Dick eat McGovern, except for the catholic comix.

I thought you could only sue McGovernment if they invited you. "Après vous, monsieur le Cœur de Lion en tête." "Non, merci, pas du tout." Did I think faux news?

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Big Brother

Not just searching for information

The time that have your equipment for is ample for them to install software and/or hardware on it. Since you have no way to know whether they did so you will never be able to trust that equipment again.

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Re: Not just searching for information

If I was carrying a works laptop\phone that was detained and taken to a seperate room for the old cyber rubber glove treament. I think I'd be tempted to say "Nah you can keep it now!".

I also think I'd probabaly start the trip with a fresh and cheapest bit of kit I could find.

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Stop

Hang on a moment

As we learned here, the EFF at one point received about 50% of their funding from Google, so perhaps their motivations are suspect and we should give the benefit of the doubt to the virtuous Homeland Security agents working tirelessly to protect America from miscreants of various stripes. After all, if Google is opposing it, no matter how tenuously, it can't be all bad, right?

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Re: Hang on a moment

Actually this IS bad, and it's the kind of thing the ACLU exists to reveal.

The government claims that these devices are just that, devices. Objects on one's person. And such things have traditionally been subject to examination at most borders everywhere.

But now there are devices that have complex connections to the larger cyberspace. They are much more than just objects, but the government wishes to continue the old way without pause, because it gives them new tools to pry into potential suspects' lives. Meanwhile the rest of us are becoming more and more exposed to the government personally.

Left alone this will result at some point in a country where people can't/won't take those phones across borders, a great inconvenience. Further, this would set a precedent that seizing phones is okay, and the practice will most likely be extended inside the country too.

The warrant requirement has 'solved' many contentious issues before, and it will do so again in this case. The government will just have to accept this as they did in the earlier warrant-related cases.

The ACLU is doing their proper job here and I applaud them.

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Facepalm

Re: Hang on a moment

Sigh . . . evidently, I should have used the <sarcasm> tag.

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Re: Hang on a moment

You need to remember to make your sarcasm further from the gormless zeal of those you parody.

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Re: Hang on a moment

It did seem out of character, but I'm not one to pass up any chance to pontificate. Besides, the downvotes can't be wrong, can they? ;-/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hang on a moment

Wait, what? You were using sarcasm? Who knew?

I used sarcasm once, it was warm day back in 76, turned out alright as apparently it's not contagious.

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Re: Hang on a moment

You might claim sarcasm, but it is no different from many ppls point of view... so if you dont want to express said pov, just give something for ppl to figure it out.

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Re: Hang on a moment

Sarchasm, n. That's a cancer we can cure. No, really. The gap isn't in the credibility.

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Re: Hang on a moment

You need to remember to make your sarcasm further from the gormless zeal of those you parody.

Whilst I agree, I simply don't see how that approach can be kept up due to the ever increasing rate of increase of zeal in the gormless.

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Re: Hang on a moment

"if you dont want to express said pov, just give something for ppl to figure it out."
Throatwarbler Mangrove can't possibly give out what's required: brains/intellect/comprehension!

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Trollface

Re: Hang on a moment

"I used sarcasm once, it was warm day back in 76, turned out alright as apparently it's not contagious."

I'm sorry to be the one to let you know but apparently it wasn't "alright" after all - you may have been asymptomatic all along but clearly you're still infected...

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Face ID doesn't matter

If customs officials are allowed to require you to provide your password as they apparently are. Law enforcement in the US is totally out of control and needs to be seriously reigned in. Hopefully we can start by NOT permanently approving (or re-approving at all!) section 702 like that idiot Sessions wants.

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Unhappy

"Hopefully we can start by NOT permanently approving (or re-approving at all!) section 702"

My impression of US politicians is they move in a personal bubble and have the attention span of a gold fish with dementia.

IOW No TSA officer will ever bother them, so they won't think it's a problem (I've been through Customs lots of time without a problem") and won't get bothered unless enough people start bothering them.

So US readers, if you want this scrapped you'd better start bothering your them.

Y'know, your elected representatives.

Get them to start representing you.

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Passwords

On a related note, I am probably stuck behind the Trump's wall because I do not know my email password, etc. as I use a password manager installed only one computer, a desktop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Passwords

Off to Guantanamo for you, until you remember! We have ways of making you talk...

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Searches, Searches...

When you cross a frontier, EVERYTHING is subject to search for contraband. If a customs bozo opens up your suitcase and sees plans for (insert terrible thing here), what do you think he is going to do?

Yes, the problem is now compounded with the amount of data you can carry in such a small space, but is just the same. Try going to places like China where after they seize your laptop they put monitoring software on to see what subversive stuff you are doing and what secrets they can have you graciously ship back to them for competitive reasons.

I suspect the moral of the story is "Don't piss off a border agent".

It would be nice if we didn't need to do such things, but that ideal world sadly doesn't exist.

I'll probably get downvotes for this (*SIGH*)

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Re: Searches, Searches...

If you're trying to argue that these searches are justified even in a free and democratic country, the comparison with China is not really helping.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Searches, Searches...

The article describes lawsuits being filed on behalf of people who sincerely believe you are utterly wrong. That a mobile phone (especially a smartphone) is explicitly not the same as a suitcase or other things which may or may not be searched.

My solution to this is to back up everything to the Cloud before I go, restore my phone from my other, lightly used and completely clean user ID, then restore the real me when I get to my destination.

Posting anon as even this simple post almost certainly amounts to cause in the National Socialist States of America and their jumped-up little SS blueshirts at the border.

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Big Brother

Re: Searches, Searches...

When you cross a frontier, EVERYTHING is subject to search for contraband.

OK, fine search my bags for illegal fruit and/or drugs; but I ask you this - what could *possibly* be stored on a phone that a customs agent needs to see?

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Black Helicopters

Re: Searches, Searches...

...even in a free and democratic country.

I thought we were talking about the US. Did I miss the change in topic again?

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I'm not sure why getting a warrant for a search of a US citizens property is such a problem...

Usually the "process" starts with the "suspect" acting suspicious. Then, there would be a search of the vehicle. At the end of that, there should be enough "evidence" to get a warrant, or the person gets waved though the checkpoint.

Border security seems to be experiencing "mission creep". If they've somehow become trained Detectives & Judges they probably need a raise...

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Anonymous Coward

America is in decline! Go elsewhere if you can. Don't buy promise of a better life there, its a lie!

"These searches are extremely intrusive and government agents shouldn't be conducting them without cause. Investing border agents with this kind of authority invites abuse and discrimination and will inevitably have a chilling effect on the freedoms of speech and association. That chilling effect will be especially significant for racial and religious minorities and for journalists and lawyers whose work requires them to keep information confidential."

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Re: America is in decline! Go elsewhere

Problem is, it feels like everywhere is in decline.

It's partly what drives the paranoia behind the border intimidation - and of course governmental response to a changing world political climate naturally just exacerbates the situation.

I get the feeling we'll be getting nostalgic for the mostly stable 'high' civilisation of the cold war soon.

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