back to article US border cops must get warrants to search citizens' gadgets – draft bipartisan law emerges

Four members of Congress – two Republicans and two Democrats – have introduced legislation that steers US border officials toward obtaining warrants before searching American citizens' phones and laptops. The Protecting Data at the Border Act would not only require a warrant from a judge to rummage through citizens' devices, …

  1. Gray
    Trollface

    Another political 'feel-good' move

    So, on paper it sounds good. The agency can stand before the press and laud the important new safeguards put in place to protect American citizens' rights and privacy.

    Except: the exception. "If officers have serious concerns about a traveller but have no time to get a warrant, they can seize the electronics and later apply for a warrant retroactively. If the warrant application fails, all the information harvested must be destroyed and may not be used in further prosecutions."

    The "serious concern" is purely in the mind of the officer, as directed by guidance from the officer's supervisor. This is a rather flexible provision that can let matters proceed 'as per usual' with little change. As for "information harvested must be destroyed," of course it will. Except for that auto-transmitted to the federal data repository in the Utah desert.

    As for applying for a warrant, we the citizens have become all too familiar with "rubber stamp" warrant approval arrangements in US courts.

    Trust. Once lost, nearly impossible to regain.

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

      The bit that struck me was:

      questions could include how they view the treatment of women in society, whether they value the "sanctity of human life," and who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation.

      which all sounds a bit existential to me, especially after climbing off a 12 hour flight in cattle class.

      I'm a bit unsure what the correct answers would be anyway.

      1. Oengus Silver badge

        Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

        who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation.

        Does "Congress, the US Senate and White house" count as one answer or three?

        1. Your alien overlord - fear me

          Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

          One if using a cluster bomb otherwise it's three.

          1. streaky Silver badge

            Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

            One if using a cluster bomb otherwise it's three

            Yeah, maybe don't tell them about your 'reg account.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

          It's two. The congress (House of Representatives) and the Senate are the legislative branch of the government. The White House (aka, the President) represents the Executive Branch and the courts comprise the third branch, the Judicial. The legislative creates (inane) laws, the Executive enforces them and the Judicial interprets laws and passes judgement. The org chart has become very messy in the last couple of hundred years so there are lots more shapes and lines and more are made up everyday. We've got Homemade security/DHS/NSA/TLA that do …. stuff… and FISA courts that rubber stamp stuff and military armored police that break down doors in the wee hours of the morning and shoot small dogs.

        3. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

          Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

          The only 'legitimate target in a military operation' is a military target; using military forces to deliberately target civilians makes you one of the bad guys.

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

        I'm a bit unsure what the correct answers would be anyway.

        That's easy... admit you like to grab em' by the pussy.

        Mines the one with the tickets to Canada...

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

        questions could include how they view the treatment of women in society, whether they value the "sanctity of human life," and who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation.

        If I were asked that upon entering a country where women's clinics are closed down by state legislation intended to stop a legal medical practice, where the death penalty is legal in 31 states, and where the CIA has set up operations like the School of the Americas and the military still runs detainment camps such as Guantanamo Bay, I would find it very difficult to keep a straight face.

      5. John McCallum
        Mushroom

        Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

        questions could include how they view the treatment of women in society, whether they value the "sanctity of human life," and who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation.

        The answer to that is quite "The Enemy".

      6. Christoph Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

        "questioning those seeking to enter the US about their personal beliefs"

        Thought Police. Literally, specifically, openly ThinkPol

      7. batfink

        Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

        Agreed - what is the "correct answer" here? Hmmm......

        Samples:

        "All life is sacred" - probably WRONG, as that would mean we can't bomb people we don't like;

        "All Murrican life is sacred, everyone else can be slaughtered at will" - probably RIGHT, but obviously incorrect;

        "All British life is sacred, one else can be slaughtered at will" - probably WRONG (as it doesn't include Colonials), and obviously incorrect;

        "All unbelievers must die!" - definitely WRONG, and also obviously incorrect. Except for everyone who doesn't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, clearly.

        Fell free to make up your own variants...

        But I suspect having this discussion with Border Patrol agents would quickly descend to Kafkaesque levels...

        BTW where's my FSM icon then Ed????

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Correct answers?

          It's pretty clear that these paving stones, no doubt made with good intentions, will get abused regardless since I'm not sure many TSA folk actually believe in what normal folk consider sane. Ask yourself who signs up to join the TSA these days? There are the pickpockets and smugglers who prefer to work with the checked baggage and then there are those who envision themselves as the quintessential superman fighting for truthiness, justice, and the American way!!!

          Sure, there are also the pragmatic types who are just like most other folks trying to do their job and get their check but they're not going to go out of their way to act as a check on the supermanesque. If you're lucky you'll get a pickpocket who has been reassigned to the pat down since they won't really listen to your answers, they're capable of giving you a thorough once over without you ever even realizing it, and all the stuff they might steal is still on the x-ray belt.

          this bill makes sure that border agents are focused on criminals and terrorists instead of wasting their time thumbing through innocent Americans' personal photos and other data.

          I'm sorry Senator Wyden, was this some sort of joke? What kind of euphemism is "other data"?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Correct answers?

            Except ICE and TSA are separate organizations, but why let details disrupt a rant?

      8. Chemical Bob

        Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

        "I'm a bit unsure what the correct answers would be anyway."

        'Activia', 'glue' and 'Canada is my favorite European county'

        Not sure about the order, but those are the correct answers.

      9. Truckle The Uncivil

        Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

        @Youngone

        I can readily interpret "value the sanctity of human life" as "do you support abortion" and/or "do you support the death penalty". Who knows what the guy on the other side of the desk wants to hear.

    2. Schultz
      Alert

      Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

      The problem of intrusive border guards won't go away with a few tweaks of the law. The agency budget was greatly inflated in the past decades and all those agents have to show some kind of effort. What are they going to do if the rules are changed? Carry the suitcase for tired travelers?

    3. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: Another political 'feel-good' move

      "On paper it sounds good"

      Well, it's only a move to avoid a major backlash. Shielding citizens from the nonsensical demands aimed a furiners. (Seriously, online banking passwords? Prettty good reason to not consider going to the U, S and A ever again!)

  2. Drew 11

    Only idiots still transit via the USA. Plenty of other options.

    1. Notas Badoff

      Can Canada sue?

      A question I have is how many flights from distant lands first land in USA before then allowing passengers to connect to flights to Canada, Mexico, South America, etc. If there is consistent heavy pressure against every furiner, even transiting ones, then there are only two avenues open for response. The Canadians could start requiring airlines to have direct flights to Canadian airports. Or the Canadian could bring action against the USA for imposing a blockade on air travel.

      If you can't get to a country without going through another imposing onerous roadblocks, what do you do?

      1. Your alien overlord - fear me

        Re: Can Canada sue?

        Travelling to Kiwiland from London. Stop off in LA. We were removed from the BA plane and shoved in a holding pen for a few hours (whilst the plane was refused I suppose). Never saw immigration etc. Same on the way home. This was pre-9/11 so I don't know if they do things differently now.

        It will mean airlines start buying more long distance flyers to by-pass landing in USA.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: going to KiwiLand?

          If you want a different way to get there then fly to BA (Buenos Aries) and then take the flight to Auckland.

          Flies around Antartica.

          But seriously, who really wants to go to the USA with 'him' in charge? I was going to visit again this year and ride from San Diego to Alaska. Not any more. Going to India instead.

          The USA is going to lose a big chunk of change with this move. Their loss is somewhere else's gain.

          I wonder if the likes of Disney, Universal etc complain loud enough it might get reversed?

          {tumbleweed blows}

          Nah, thought not.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: going to KiwiLand?

            There are lots of ways of flying from the UK/Europe to New Zealand without going anywhere near the US. I've done it via Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai+Sydney (and now, I understand, "directly via Dubai" is also an option), Seoul, Bangkok, Shanghai...

            Basically, Asia is full of airports, and all of them are more comfortable and welcoming than LAX.

            1. Mr Sceptical
              Thumb Up

              Re: going to KiwiLand?

              My vote is via Singapore:

              1) Take a flight arriving Singapore in the morning & freshen up at the airport bathrooms

              2) Spend the day sightseeing

              3) Enjoy the food

              4) Take the overnight flight to NZ after enjoying the airport facilities again - have a swim if you want

              5) Arrive NZ in morning, no jet lag - sorted...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: going to KiwiLand?

            But seriously, who really wants to go to the USA with 'him' in charge?

            Seriously, who wanted to go with the previous twit in charge? It as Obama that started almost all of this crap!

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: going to KiwiLand?

              It as Obama that started almost all of this crap!

              Really? I thought it was Bush who set up the TSA with so much power, after he'd finally put aside his copy of The Pet Goat.

        2. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: Can Canada sue?

          I don't know if they do things differently now

          AFAIK there is no such thing as "transit" any more: you have to pass through immigration and you need an ESTA and/or visa even if you're not planning on leaving the airport. It hardly seems worth it.

        3. Adair

          Re: Can Canada sue?

          @'Your alien overlord'

          Times change. The holding pen (transfer under armed guard) is long gone.

          Now, it's straight into the 'papers and fingerprints please' hellhole where you fester with many others for as long as it takes. Assuming there is insufficient evidence to detain you further, you then join a queue through security for your connecting flight. Having negotiated that with whatever dignity you have left, and with blood sugar now at dangerously low levels (especially for those with a short fuse), you may be lucky enough to have time to grab some sustenance and recover your equilibrium; otherwise it's a sprint for the boarding pen and another wait until you are allowed to enter the tubular sanctuary for more hours of your life spent in a gentle sauna of BO and farts.

          Much of this pain is easily avoided by simply avoiding the 'Land of the Free(TM). Personally I now find Dubai quite an acceptable stop on the way to almost everywhere else that I am interested in going to.

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: Can Canada sue?

            @Adair, unless you have a pain problem and need opioids for relief... then Dubai turns into a hell hole because they are of the belief that you're trying to smuggle drugs into the emirate. At least Singapore looks at that more pragmatically.

            1. Adair

              Re: Can Canada sue?

              @anothercynic

              I thoroughly endorse Singapore airport as a civilised transit hub. My experience of Dubai has only been as a transit passenger, and so far my experiences have all been good. Will be passing through again later this year - fingers crossed all will be well. :-)

        4. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Can Canada sue?

          Yes, that was the standard procedure for LHR-AKL with ANZ. You were left in a sterile area. These days, you will still require ESTA etc to *transit* through LAX, regardless of whether you *enter* the US (which lounge access passengers will likely do to refresh at the Koru Lounge) or not.

          Unfortunately ANZ, as much as they fly to YVR, do not do the LHR-YVR segment. You'd have to fly with Air Canada or Virgin Atlantic (the two default partners) instead.

          And because of the convenience and popularity of LHR-AKL (32 kilo luggage allowance on both segments vs 23 kilo via HKG), ANZ killed their LHR-AKL via HKG flights a while back. Now it could be a USP for ANZ to do LHR-YVR-AKL or LHR-HKG-AKL post-Trump (they do LHR-SIN-AKL with Singapore or Virgin Atlantic to Singapore and ANZ the rest).

      2. streaky Silver badge

        Re: Can Canada sue?

        Or the Canadian could bring action against the USA for imposing a blockade on air travel.

        If it's related to security* the WTO can't do anything.

        * It doesn't actually have to relate to security they just have to claim it does and they're golden, else this laptop nonsense would have been in front of them by now.

      3. VanguardG

        Re: Can Canada sue?

        Nations cannot sue other nations. Still, it does seem quite stupid to conduct immigration/customs checks on someone who doesn't leave the airport.

        Many years ago ('93 or '94), I went from New York to Berlin via London (Heathrow). Self-contained terminal, in a security zone - and we were all forced to *leave* the secured zone, and go back through X-ray and baggage scan. Not Customs, at least. Just seemed moronic to take people who go OFF of an aircraft, after being scanned and cleared in a nation even more paranoid than you are yourself, and herd them through - knowing full well the entire time that every single one of those people had a connecting flight to catch. And my belt's metal inlays had set off the metal detectors in the US, but not at Heathrow, thus the unnecessary search was also less thorough, which made it more irksome.

        I did make my connection, barely - which of course then pushed back from the gate and sat on the apron wasting fuel for 90 minutes for no apparent reason.

  3. Mephistro Silver badge

    Things will have to change a lot ...

    ... before I even consider laying a foot in the USA, and I've heard similar sentiments expressed often lately.

    Perhaps the issue will vanish by itself when the Obertwitterführer finally notices that these policies will hurt his own business.

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: Things will have to change a lot ...

      a. He's too stupid to realise.

      b. He's 'officially' given up control so he shouldn't care.

      c. Most 'Muricans holiday at home so his, er TT's, client base will probably stay the same.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Things will have to change a lot ...

        "a. He's too stupid to realise."

        Maybe he's a really a closet green who thoroughly believes in AGW and this is a yuuuuuge plan to reduce polluting air travel?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Things will have to change a lot ...

      Perhaps the issue will vanish by itself when the Obertwitterführer finally notices that these policies will hurt his own business.

      You do realise that it takes years for any changes to work their way through the system - these things don't change overnight or even in a few months.

      Most of these issues are a holdover from the previous administration and were built up on those from the one before that it is rather unfair to blame this administration.

      1. VanguardG

        Re: Things will have to change a lot ...

        Actually, I rather thing the FAA, TSA, FBI, and the rest of the alphabet soup pretty much make all these policies for themselves under the assumption nobody will challenge anything they decree to be "policy" for fear of being arrested as a "disruptive element".

        You don't actually think ONE person has the time to read all the rule changes for hundreds of agencies, let alone approve them one by one, do you? 98% of it never even gets to the White House to be approved or disapproved - and less than 25% of what actually goes to the White House is actually ever seen by the President, and most of that is the highly-touted stuff they *want* everyone to see being signed...like a proclamation of "Be Nice to Puppies" day or something.

        Next up...all persons waiting in line for Customs must hop on their left leg only for 90 seconds, then on their right leg only for another 90 seconds, and must run 5 laps around a 3 meter circle, and then do the "Hokey Pokey". Why? Um...policy. Terrorists and stuff.

        The President, regardless of which President, probably finds out about most of this crap the same way the rest of us do...TV news. "Oh, so that's what they're doing now. Chief of Staff, call the ICE people in the morning and find out how they handle people who cannot stand or who have just one leg, we must not discriminate."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Things will have to change a lot ...

      Must be a real pain deciding if you like the leader of a country before traveling to, or even through. the country.

      What's funny is most people in the US could care less about who the leaders are in other world countries, while so much of the rest of the world's population seem very heavily vested in the US Presidency, while at the same time saying that they don't follow the lead of the US in any way, shape or form.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge

        Re: Things will have to change a lot ...(@ AC)

        "Must be a real pain deciding if you like the leader of a country before traveling to, or even through. the country."

        Nice straw dog, AC, but FYI, the problem here is the way USA customs treat visitors. They have been doing it for more than a decade, and I and others have complained about it in these same forums often. What has changed? The Donald has raised the bar several notches, moving it from 'slightly risky' to 'very dangerous verging suicidal'. If you disagree with this, prove your point by giving all your electronic devices, financial data, social media and passwords to those monkeys and tell us the results afterwards, so we can have a good laugh.

        Have a nice day.

  4. veti Silver badge

    Can you say

    "blatantly unconstitutional"?

    If it's legal for an American agent, on American soil, to do it - then the citizenship of the victim target subject makes no difference. It's either legal, or it's not.

    "... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws". 14th amendment applies to states, and by reverse incorporation also to the federal government.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Can you say

      Correct. The rights of U.S. citizens to not have their data/calls intercepted overseas is not constitutional, it is strictly political (Don't want to piss off U.S. taxpayers by surveilling them with the intelligence community that they pay for--that causes calls to your local Congressman.)

      The same applies to anybody entering the U.S. Constitutional rights apply regardless of citizenship, and are based entirely on your physical presence in the United States.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Can you say

        " Constitutional rights apply regardless of citizenship, and are based entirely on your physical presence in the United States."

        Of course not. As a non-US-citizen with very frequent stays in the US the distinction was frequently and unequivocally made to me by the US administration. There are very explicit provisions to exclude non-US-citizens from any and all protections granted by the US "constitution". These only apply to US citizens. If you don't have a US passport, you're free game. It it very well documented and part of the official guidelines. I checked. Several times. With people who actually know what they're talking about. There is, explicitly, no "right of the land" in these matters. To some extent even official permanent residents are considered aliens upon re-entry.

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

          TL;DR

          Should you ever get in trouble with the US administration while being a foreigner, IMMEDIATELY seek advice from your embassy or consulate. US constitutional protections DO NOT apply to you.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    As someone who experienced Soviet Bloc border controls

    All I can say is: has the Obertwitterführer (thanks Mephistro) heard of "glasnost"?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: As someone who experienced Soviet Bloc border controls

      Not border control, the visa process. Border control in USSR and most of the soviet block was mostly harmless. It was never anywhere close to the lunacy at USA borders.

      What we are observing is applying the rules and principles of pre-Gorbachev Soviet Union for issuing an exit visa, just this time for entrance. Anyone who has dealt with one of those 20 pages of questions exit visa questionnaires will probably recognize it immediately. It is history repeating, just in a mirror image.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The devil always is in the implementation...

    The Protecting Data at the Border Act would not only require a warrant from a judge to rummage through citizens' devices, but would also institute a four-hour time limit for detaining Americans at the border.

    At least the four-hour rule has a very easy procedural work-around, which any police officer or border agent will be very familiar, and likely quite comfortable with. If you want to detain somebody longer, all you need to do is it express a doubt in their citizenship status, then detain the person until such status can be positively ascertained. If you really, really want to hold them, make sure that you give them an old Ma Bell black rotary phone for their attempts to contact their lawyer/relatives/whoever, and accidentantally have it hooked to a line with the tone-only service. Do not forget to apologize profoundly when they finally figure this out.

    Finally, if you really, really, really want to hold them (or if you have a bet running with your mates over who can keep it up longer), bring out the trump card, and suspect the sod of being a terrorist. That out to be good for a few years until the guy manages to convince the enhanced interrogation crews at Guantanamo that he is not a camel....

    1. Solarflare

      Re: The devil always is in the implementation...

      Probably a bigger chance that after a few years of "enhanced interrogation" you'll genuinely believe that you are a camel...

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: The devil always is in the implementation...

        "Probably a bigger chance that after a few years of "enhanced interrogation" you'll genuinely believe that you are a camel.."

        Or at the *very* least sincerely *WANT* to be a camel.

    2. Boo Radley

      Re: The devil always is in the implementation...

      All phone systems in the US are backward compatible, so the rotary phone will work fine.

      1. Oengus Silver badge

        Re: The devil always is in the implementation...

        Give them a Kiwi pulse dial phone... They'll dial the wrong number every time...

    3. VanguardG

      Re: The devil always is in the implementation...

      You're being much too complicated about it, you know. At 3 hours and 45 minutes, you release the person, but have them arrested by the local county sheriff before they take a step, for...I don't know...disorderly conduct or trespassing. No four hour limit applied to the Sheriff, only the ICE people. And, if you need to root around in their device...claim it was "misplaced"...and then send them a similar-looking device after ripping out one of the battery contacts (accidentally)so it can't be powered on - most people wouldn't know the serial number of their phone/tablet to figure out it isn't theirs, and having someone solder on a new battery contact would cost more than a new phone. Law enforcement is not, by the way, obligated in any realistic way to safeguard any seized belongings (even ones "temporarily" taken) in any way, they can mail you a box of random parts and you have zero recourse. You could TRY to sue, but intead of a border guard agent, you'll be facing a Justice Department lawyer, who will delay your case repeatedly with "I was not provided that information" until you go broke paying your attorney to just show up in court so the judge can grant still-another continuance to the opposition.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    non-citizens have an easy fix

    Ask your government to flag any US congressman entering your country for a full search of their electronic devices. I bet that will get the law changed for more than just citizens PDQ! Or maybe we'll bomb your country, with our current president who knows!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: non-citizens have an easy fix

      Ask your government to flag any US congressman entering your country for a full search of their electronic devices.

      Why stop at electronic devices? I vote for an investigatory laparoscopy of the body cavities. After all they may be trying to smuggle something dangerous. To ease the recovery process and minimize travel delays, we can do it under local anesthesia, and offer complimentary video of the search as a souvenir.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: laparoscopy of the body cavities

        Added Benefit: they may help the congress critters/politicians finally figure out where their heads are, as previously they could not find it with both hands and the proverbial flashlight.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: non-citizens have an easy fix

      "Canis canem non est" - politicians know they can get preferential treatment when they travel (often using diplomatic passports...), they won't risk to lose it.

    3. streaky Silver badge

      Re: non-citizens have an easy fix

      Ask your government to flag any US congressman entering your country for a full search of their electronic devices

      Have any US congressmen ever actually left the US, like, in their lives?

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: non-citizens have an easy fix

        I'm sure that some did leave the lower 48. Those were probably in the Armed Forces unlike their dear leader who apparently dodged the draft and avoided Vietnam.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Have any US congressmen ever actually left the US, like, in their lives?

        I believe one went to Jonestown once.

      3. VanguardG

        Re: non-citizens have an easy fix

        Yep..they actually do so frequently. "Fact Finding Missions". Junkets. Most are paid for with tax dollars, to such international hot spots as the Bahamas...but never anywhere where there is actual, you know, tension or conflict going on. Southern France, maybe various locations in the Alps...On very rare occasions, a whole herd of them will run off to show the flag in some nation that one of them decided we just don't know very much about. Rather than just call the other nation's Tourism Bureau, 11 Congressmen, with spouses or equivalents, will travel there, along with 67 Aides of various sorts and 14 cultural experts. And spend a week finding...facts. And come back with a 1 page report that's plagiarized from the other nation's Tourist Bureau's website. But, while the middle-sized herd of Aides and Experts has to go through Customs like everyone else, members of Congress are just swept right through as fast as their overloaded little feet can carry them.

        We need term limits on Congress. And they have to ask permission from those they represent to make these trips, and submit a public expense report for us all to see outlining what they did, saw, and spent while there....and justify every person they took on the trip, too.

        Oh...and they fly commercial....Business Class at best *and* go through Customs like other citizens. NO use of military aircraft and airfields to end-run Customs.

  8. heyrick Silver badge

    then they may pick somewhere else for their holidays.

    Already done. There are several places in America I'd like to see. There are several other countries with a better outlook. Sorry, but one doesn't start a happy holiday by bending over.

  9. Gavin Burnett

    and the top travel tip for this summer is

    Don't go to America!

  10. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    14th amendment

    Wouldn't such a law violate the 14th amendment (the 'equal protection' clause)? In other words, the U.S. constitution states that citizens and non-citizens should be treated in the same way, with some limited exceptions.

    "Are Foreign Nationals Entitled to the Same Constitutional Rights As Citizens?

    David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center"

    http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1302&context=facpub

    Of course, having the resources to be able to demonstrate standing and take this all the way to the Supreme Court of the US might be a little tricky.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 14th amendment

      The problem is that until they stamp your passport, you are not officically on US Soil and thus you are denied any protections that the constitution might give you.

      The same applies at every border crossing.

      1. Tomato42 Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: 14th amendment

        so, basically, they are refusing fundamental human rights on a technicality. Land of The Free™ my ass

        1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

          Re: 14th amendment

          Time Reg updated their boilerplate to Land of The FreeBS.

      2. EnviableOne Bronze badge

        Re: 14th amendment

        INAL but In Plyler v. Doe (1982), where the Court held that aliens illegally present in a state are within its jurisdiction and may thus raise equal protection claims

        Hence your legal status does not impact the fact you are a "person"

        This allied with Bolling v. Sharpe (1954) "reverse incorporation",

        means that its unconstitutional for any state or the federal US to deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

  11. tiggity Silver badge

    banking passwords

    For non USians, email, banking passwords, misc social media passwords - wow identity theft, real cash theft as an added bonus of a US visit

    And doubtless detainment grief for those who do not have online banking / social media

    and of the few accounts they do have (e.g. email) , they do not know the account details (e.g. credentials all written down in a book somewhere, not a thing you take on holiday when you will not be using those accounts)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and bonus criminal charges

      Password disclosure is generally against terms of service, and many US prosecutors think breaching terms of service is a criminal act under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Fun times...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a positive side to this (well, sort of).

    Maybe, just maybe, people now start to think about the crap they post online.

    As for email addresses, this may rescue Yahoo as it is so often compromised that you cannot reasonably claim that the contents of that email address is all your own anyway :)

    I have no idea what is in the water in Washington, but it must be bad. Do they get their supplies from Flint, Michigan?

  13. Cynical Observer
    Mushroom

    Banking Passwords!

    FFS!

    Not content with having damaged the tourist industry to the tune of hundreds dollars (Telegraph Article from February), the current crop of numpties want to go all in.

    Shouldn't there be a minimum IQ rest for politicians? They don't have to be genius level but surely a modicum of intelligence and the wherewithal to see the consequences of your actions should be mandatory.

    1. EnviableOne Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: Banking Passwords!

      or at least a CT scan to confirm the presence of a brain ....

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Banking Passwords!

        "or at least a CT scan to confirm the presence of a brain ...."

        Nah, just drill a hole and look. It's cheaper and has fringe benefits.

    2. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: Banking Passwords!

      Shouldn't there be a minimum IQ rtest for politicians?

      There already is. You have to have a minimum IQ to become a politician.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Ask govt to flag US congressman entering your country for a search of their electronic devices"

    * Sounds good on paper. But many countries are cowards / afraid of USA.

    .......Look at Ireland, America's bitch! Neutral country that lets rendition and other horrors operate out of Shannon.

    .......What does the Irish government do about it? Deny it! Then jail protestors including fellow politicians.

    * Then its quickly time to bend-over once again for Paddy's day! Shame!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least Trump has the political incorrectness to call radical Islam for what it is. Enjoy your trucks of peace.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      I wish he'd also use 'radical Christianity'

      The 'branch' of Christianity that believes in bombing innocent people, in repression and oppression, etc is 'radical Christianity' in the same way as 'radical Islam' is a thing. It differs from real Christianity in the same way that real Islam is different.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I wish he'd also use 'radical Christianity'

        Show me current stats between radial Islam and radial Christianity. I'm an atheist so I literally go by the numbers and don't pull punches. Your move.

  16. Lee D Silver badge

    You want my passwords?

    I cannot come to your country.

    There's stuff on there subject to the EU Data Protection Act which I cannot divulge, or give access to, to anyone else.

    Game over. I literally CANNOT enter your country if that ruling goes through. Not even in passing, for holiday, etc.

    Not that I want to, particularly, but this just makes it impossible. I can't break laws in my country to allow entry into another.

    You want that information, it has to be an EU law enforcement agency that requires me to hand that over, not US.

    However, even beyond that, BANKING details? No. You ask the bank if you want those. I'm not giving those out and maybe cannot even do so (e.g. SecureKey devices etc. that I don't have with me). Account passwords? No. You can ask the relevant sites for those (and they'll refuse, being in the EU for the most part). Devices, I wouldn't even bother to take anyway because of this junk.

    And then the inane questions? What kind of pointless operation is that?

    Seriously, America, get rid of your fool and your stupid rules because you're voluntarily walling yourselves into a corner. The only logical conclusion of which is something akin to 1984 or Escape from New York.

    I'm guessing most of those plans will never come to pass, but I can't ever take the risk that they do pass while I'm in the air on the way to the US, like the previous set did.

    If you're really THIS paranoid, refuse people at the source airport, not the destination. By the time you're screening them they've already been on a plane over US soil with the potential to hijack it.

  17. Esme

    This is farcial

    "A Department of Homeland Security bigwig said questions could include how they view the treatment of women in society, whether they value the "sanctity of human life," and who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation."

    On the matter of the treatment of women in society, I wouldn't want to enter a country full of armed religious bigots and run by a tinpot dictator who thinks it's OK to just grab women by their genitals whenever he chooses. Not that things are perfect in the UK, far from it, but the USA appears to be backwards by comparison, judging by reports. The second question is too poorly defined for me to answer, and so is stupid. The third question is stupid because the answer is obvious - the opposing force in the conflict, which should be waged acording to the rules of war. Terrorists, however, aren't concerned about legitimacy of targets, so if this question is intended to catch potetntial terrorists, it's doubly stupid.

    I really, really sympathise for all the decent citizens of the USA who have to endure their current regime. Hoping you get a saner, more intelligent and more humane one next election. All the best!

  18. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    There is a positive side to this...

    The chances of L.A. getting the Olympics in 2024 under the present regime is approaching zero, and Paris on only an hour away

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: There is a positive side to this...

      Er, I think you'll find the IOC is not well known for taking a strong stand on moral issues in the host country. A sentence which may just win me the "understatement of the year" prize.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: There is a positive side to this...

        " the IOC is not well known for taking a strong stand on moral issues in the host country"

        I don't think that's the point. The point is that organizing Olympic Games in the USA under the current status quo will cause said Games to flop spectacularly, economically speaking. Fewer foreigner visitors, fewer sponsors and even fewer countries participating. It's the exact opposite of a win/win for everyone involved.

      2. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        Re: There is a positive side to this...

        FYI Just ask Chicago how well tough immigration controls played with the IOC

        https://intransit.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/02/chicagos-loss-is-passport-control-to-blame/

  19. Draco
    Joke

    Did anyone else misread the headline as "daft bipartisan law emerges"?

    I think the title says it all...

  20. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    ESTA already asks for your social media

    But,at least in March, it wasn't required.

  21. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Won't make any difference to me

    Some years ago, an American friend told me not to try and visit again.

    His words were something like. "I know you can't keep your mouth shut when faced with extreme bullshit, and I don't want to visit you in prison".

  22. david 12 Bronze badge

    >Land of the FreeTM <

    Right now, anyone – citizen or not – entering the UK can be subject to warrantless probing of their electronics,

    Don't expect BREXIT to change that.

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