back to article Ex-Mozilla CTO: US border cops demanded I unlock my phone, laptop at SF airport – and I'm an American citizen

Former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal says he was interrogated for three hours by America's border cops after arriving at San Francisco airport – because he refused to unlock his work laptop and phone. Gal, now employed by Apple, today claimed he was detained and grilled on November 29 after landing in California following a trip to …

  1. VikiAi Silver badge
    Meh

    Don't travel to the US.

    And if you are already there, best not leave if you plan to ever come back. (I hear there will soon be a wall to enforce this anyway.)

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Don't travel to the US.

      I have always wanted to visit the US (and Canada) but they have made it feel like I would be taking a massive risk in doing so since I work in the security field.

      If I've done nothing wrong, why am I afraid?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        Canada does still have an extradition treaty with the USofA but as the private prison system in the US is run without consideration of Human rights that should be reconsidered. If you're not on that list you'd be OK.

        The American prison system is truly frightening. http://time.com/5405158/the-true-history-of-americas-private-prison-industry/

        1. Bogle

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          I would read the Time article but fuck me, what's all this nonsense when I don't want ad cookies?

          1. alain williams Silver badge

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            I read it, closed the page and Cookie Autodelete zapped those ad cookies.

      2. Bernard

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        ‘If I've done nothing wrong, why am I afraid?‘

        Because you make life a little more difficult for the people who want to do things that are wrong and they have the tools to make you afraid.

        1. FozzyBear Silver badge

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          based on past experiences, we are talking about petty officials with huge egos that have been given a vast amount of legal power. Petty Officials who take an extreme amount of pleasure in intimidating, bullying and in many cases assaulting people. The real trouble is when they pick on someone that actually knows their rights, so these little piss-ants double down on the intimidation.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            we are talking about petty officials with huge egos that have been given a vast amount of legal power.

            Going by the single downvote many of these posts are receiving, one of them must be here along with all of his friends.

      3. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        "If I've done nothing wrong, why am I afraid?"

        Because they have done wrong - and intend to go on doing it.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        You don't have to do anything wrong. Trump and his "Trumpettes" will take care of that for you. If your name sounds too foreign, or you might not be a Trump Fan, or you originated from Europe, you may have a problem. If you're Russian, you'll get through with no delays.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Boffin

          @AC Re: Don't travel to the US.

          You don't have to do anything wrong. Trump and his "Trumpettes" will take care of that for you.

          Wow.

          Your TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) is showing.

          I guess you're not old enough to have been traveling pre-9/11 and then post-9/11.

          The extra scrutiny has been around for a while.

          And before you go off on Trump, here's a free clue. This has been going on during the Obama presidency. As well as during Bush.

          I'm sure I'm going to get down voted, but just trying to keep it real.

          Compared to Obama, Trump is relatively clueless when it comes to using Big Data.

          (Obama's Big Data team was based in Chicago during his campaigns.)

          1. A.P. Veening

            Re: @AC Don't travel to the US.

            You are correct in that TDS isn't related to excessive abuse of power by Border Control. And you are probably right Trump is relatively clueless when it comes to using Big Data, but he is pretty clueless no matter the subject. However, I really don't feel like travelling to a country where the population (in whatever way) elects somebody like Donald Trump as president.

            1. CountCadaver

              Re: @AC Don't travel to the US.

              Sad thing is there are all too many in this country who crave Farage for PM or Yaxley-Lennon

              Many of them probably relish world resembling V for Vendetta (though Maybot seems to rapidly be heading down the Adam Susan route - locking herself away, persecution complex, refusal to listen to reason etc)

              1. RobertLongshaft

                Re: @AC Don't travel to the US.

                I'd take Farage over your glorious retarded socialist Corbyn any day of the week.

                Although I do have to say if I ever wanted to queue for hours for bread and kill zoo animals for a rare treat of meat then he would be an excellent choice.

                His policies have proven to be so successful in Venezuela, a country the leftist cheers for nearly a decade before the inevitable fall into destitution, starvation and violent public unrest.

                1. Kabukiwookie

                  Re: @AC Don't travel to the US.

                  In related news, another clueless person soaks up Fox News prop^H^H^H^Hnews without critical thinking or referring to alternate sources of facts.

                  Please, please, pretty please. Build the wall. Then build one at your northern border as well.

                  If you promise to stay inside, I'll even chip in.

          2. Trenjeska
            Pint

            Re: @AC Don't travel to the US.

            Ah yesssss those were the times.

            When I could work on chainmail in the cabin and have my longbow in the overhead lockers.

            And sabena still existed.

            Come, share a drink with me

            1. A.P. Veening

              Re: @AC Don't travel to the US.

              Such A Bloody Experience Never Again!

          3. holmegm

            Re: @AC Don't travel to the US.

            That and in the UK you can be locked up for ... an unkind Facebook post.

            We all have our issues ...

          4. JJKing Bronze badge
            Megaphone

            Re: @AC Don't travel to the US.

            Trump is relatively clueless when it comes to using Big Data.

            Trump is totallyclueless.

            FTFY

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          AC - you need to wean yourself off of 'fake news'.

          Most likely this was a case of over-aggressive law enforcement. It happens sometimes. The fact that officers wouldn't let the guy contact his attorney says it all, I think. They had his passport, they knew he was a citizen, and (allegedly) making threats to intimidate is completely inappropriate. ACLU will have a field day with it, as they should.

          <joke>Maybe he should've said "asylum"</joke>

          1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            Yes it was over-aggressive law enforcement. The fact that it happens *is* the problem.

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            The thing is though, they knew who he was. They knew who he'd worked for and about his political opinions. You can't write this off as "shit happens" - it was targeted. Someone in a position of responsibility said "Pick on this guy".

          3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
            Boffin

            @Bombasic Bob ... Re: Don't travel to the US.

            It could be over agressive LEO or not.

            They knew who he was before he was flagged. Was it a random thing and he pissed them off? Maybe

            Or something about him got himself flagged.

            Maybe it was something he said in social media.

            Maybe it was something else.

            Bottom line, we won't know and the guy would be less than honest.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            "Most likely this was a case of over-aggressive law enforcement"

            Bullshit. They knew who he was and what has he done earlier. Definitely not random abuse of power, but very planned targeted attack to one person.

            *Someone had ordered these thugs to attack this guy*. Literally. Now, who would that be and why?

            Why someone wanted so bad have Apple internal secrets that obvious criminal activity is OK to achieve that?

            Swiping that aside as random act is a blatant lie: Demanding trade secrets (i.e. company laptop) _does not happen accidentally_ anywhere.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Don't travel to the US.

              https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-apple-idUSMTZSAPEC2JTC1BEC Gee I can't imagine why anyone would want to open an apple security engineer's phone...

        3. TacticalTimbo

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          What the hell are you talking about these airport officials probably had jobs before the Trump administration, and they'll likely have them after. They do as instructed, so they can pay the bills and keep their families fed.

          1. Kabukiwookie

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            Right, the 'just following orders defense'.

            Believe that has been tried before and was found to be lacking.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Alien

              Re: Don't travel to the US.

              Right, the 'just following orders defense'.

              Believe that has been tried before and was found to be lacking.

              It's scary the people who believe that they will be able to use this as a defence and somehow not be held responsible for their actions.

              Might as well use "The debbil mayd meh doo ut!".

      5. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        "If I've done nothing wrong, why am I afraid?"

        Because "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" is total bollocks spouted by overcontrolling totalitarians who know what's good for you even better than you know yourself*. If you hear anyone using that phrase you can safely conclude that whatever idea they are trying to prop up with this argument is deeply flawed. (I would have said 'could be safely ignored', but actually with these f***ers its best to keep an eye on what they're up to)

        *Funnily enough in the US, a lot of these same people rail against the 'nanny state'.

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          "Funnily enough in the US, a lot of these same people rail against the 'nanny state'".

          Yeah, but what we are discussing is the "Huge insane drunken drug-addled father with a steel crowbar".

          1. cream wobbly

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            Steel crowbar? Surely Trump carries a golf club?

            1. Archtech Silver badge

              Re: Don't travel to the US.

              I was not referring to Trump. I was talking about the US federal government in general, regardless of who happens to be in office.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          yeah I think the Mueller probe and the current followup insanity is a good example of why "If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" does NOT apply when aggressive federal agents attempt to force you into something _like_ a 'perjury trap'...

          Maybe Trump will become more of an advocate of civil rights as a result? he's currently busy fixing other problems (illegal immigrant caravans and securing the southern border, etc.), but "taming" the TSA and (allegedly) aggressive airport customs inspections might be the next thing to tackle.

          personally, I don't much like taking my belt off to walk through a metal detector at an airport, having to hold up my pants and waddle, and then lose them when I spread my arms to get scanned. You're welcome everyone, I am "the streak". It has gotten _SILLY_.

      6. Someone Else Silver badge

        @ Sir Spork -- Re: Don't travel to the US.

        If I've done nothing wrong, why am I afraid?

        Because you're not a brain-dead moron?

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Don't travel to the US.

      Don't travel to the US.

      Not an option for me - I get sent periodically with work.

      I just have an "America phone", which they're welcome to unlock, hack, malware or otherwise root to death. It gets a factory reset to cleanse the lower hanging fruit after each trip. It only gets used in America and has very few apps on it and is signed out of all accounts until I'm away from the airport.

      I have a special user account on my "Amrica laptop" with very restricted permissions which is used only to unlock the laptop at the border. Again the laptop is rebuilt after each trip.

      I'm well aware firmware hacks won't work be removed using any of the above, but there's only so much I can do. I never take any of my "real" kit with me - not because I have anything to hide, but because I don't want anything hidden upon it (trojans, state malware etc).

      1. David Austin

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        I wish I could say you were being paranoid, but I keep a burner laptop for state visits, too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          Damn, that's why the price of those x220s on ebay stays so high, demand outstripping supply! Thanks God I've got a few spare ones around! :)

      2. Just Enough
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        Isn't having an obviously clean and pre-prepared phone or laptop just used as an indication of trying to hide something?

        Why, they will ask, does this phone not have a Facebook account on it, where we can see all your seditious posts about your hatred of Freedom and the great leader Donald? You're not leaving until we see you log into an obviously active Facebook account, and Twitter. Don't have accounts for either? What are you, some kind of non-conforming freak?

        1. Mycho Silver badge

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          Why, they will ask, does this phone not have a Facebook account on it

          "Because I left Facebook after that incident where they declared the declaration of independence was unacceptable content. God Bless America!"

          It's not hard.

        2. Frank Bitterlich

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          Isn't having an obviously clean and pre-prepared phone or laptop just used as an indication of trying to hide something?

          Yes it is. I have seen cases where people get grilled on why they have only a few contacts in their phone address book, why there is no Facebook app on the phone, and whether they have anything to hide. (Other countries immigrations officers do that too, though. For example Australia.) Don't bring a phone at all? Highly suspect.

          The idea of using a "burner" phone or laptop may not be really working any more. Avoiding the country altogether sounds more and more like the only reasonable recourse. What a sad world.

          1. CountCadaver

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            Why don't you have a phone or laptop?

            My religious beliefs prohibit the use of modern technology, I believe abstaining brings me closer to god and our lord and saviour Jesus Christ

            recite the last part loudly enough in the USA and it would be a brave TSA agent who "harasses" the god fearing pious christian......might "inspire" the GOP to decide the TSA is going too far, particularly if the religious right take umbrage at the persecution of one of the faithful........

            1. JLV Silver badge

              Re: Don't travel to the US.

              What if, just to prove you are indeed religious, they ask you to quote any psalm or the like? That's pretty popular with devout Americans. Matthew 11.2, Corinthians 2.4, etc...

              Hint - this one won't do: https://genius.com/Ministry-psalm-69-lyrics

              1. Blank Reg

                Re: Don't travel to the US.

                There's a trump bumper sticker that says

                pray for Trump: Psalm 109:8

                Psalm 109:8

                Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Angel

                  Re: Don't travel to the US.

                  Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

                  I gotta get me one of them for when the other side gets back into power here in NZ :)

                  Haven't had such a good laugh for a while :)

            2. vtcodger Silver badge

              Re: Don't travel to the US.

              My religious beliefs prohibit the use of modern technology

              And your plan for the day you encounter a US border bully bright enough to ask "If your religion forbids use of modern technology, what, pray tell, are you doing in an airport?"?

              1. a pressbutton

                Re: Don't travel to the US.

                well, the helicopter was invented by leonardo...

        3. whitepines Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          What are you, some kind of non-conforming freak?

          Actually, yes. I don't like being lied to, manipulated, and being told how to vote by a California corporation that wants to supplant the US government with its own laws and leaders. As a result I am proudly Facebook-free, not even an account beyond that shady shadow profile thing they tend to do.

          If this is less about Facebook and more about wanting to know who I talk to, just ask my phone provider for the call and text records -- in fact I believe you may already have them, but if not the NSA should be able to call them up fairly rapidly?

        4. CountCadaver

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          Just take a Doro phone and waffle about the "good old days" or some such. (seriously though they make decent handsets for the tech phobic or aged mobile user, my grandad in his mid 80s is really happy with his, he even managed to send a text [something he's not managed since, albeit ask him anything about plastering, tiling or roughcasting he's your man, he used to make ornate ceiling light features from scratch (the kind you see in old houses)])

          1. Kiwi Silver badge

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            Just take a Doro phone and waffle about the "good old days" or some such.

            Mate of mine has gone to one of those after going through a pile of other phones.

            Must admit when I get a bit more disposables that don't have other junk to be blown on, I'll probably get one for myself.

            Definitely like what I've seen of it.

        5. Blank Reg

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          I don't remember my passwords so there is no way I can log in to any of those sites no matter how much I'm threatened.

        6. Spanners Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          Isn't having an obviously clean and pre-prepared phone or laptop just used as an indication of trying to hide something?

          No it indicates that my (GSM) phone is too advanced for most US phone companies and their infrastructure and I need to buy a cheap and nasty throwaway one that will work there. Even if this is no longer the case, it is a reasonable statement.

        7. holmegm

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          You realize your absurdity here, right?

          You can trash Trump all you want on FB ... FB loves it and promotes it, and also no government will do anything to you.

          Citation: my eyes.

      3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        Dont you risk detention along the lines of:

        "These gadgets are clearly not your everyday gadgets....why?"

        1. notamole

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          You do but the answer is quite easy. In case they get stolen.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          Dont you risk detention along the lines of:

          "These gadgets are clearly not your everyday gadgets....why?"

          You really have no clue...

          They will never ask that.

          Sure you may get some other questions, but seriously anything you have on your laptop, Google already knows. ;-)

          But back to this guy...

          He should have just said... here's my personal kit, knock yourself out.

          The Apple stuff? If you won't let me contact Apple then I can't.

          Of course Apple actually has a policy in place on how to handle this... had he actually tried to look.

          And again... he never talked about why he got flagged.

          1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            You really have no clue... They will never ask that.

            I believe you are being over-confident in deciding who doesn't have a clue.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @Jason Re: Don't travel to the US.

              Posted anon for a reason.

              Meaning that I know what they are likely to ask and not ask.

              You give them a flip response like some suggest.... you will face extra questioning.

              You lie you get flagged for more questioning.

              Depending on how bad the lie, you can be arrested.

              You try to act like a lawyer... you will get flagged for more questioning.

              The reason they let him go is that he would have complied if he could have contacted Apple to get permission which means he was trying to be compliant. So there was no intent on his part.

              But that doesn't mean they couldn't bounce him from GOES.

              All major global companies have rules about what to do when traveling internationally. Did he follow what Apple has published?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Jason Don't travel to the US.

                "Meaning that I know what they are likely to ask and not ask."

                What you "know" is irrelevant as this isn't a random case but a targeted personal attack to this guy and Apple. At that point "likely" does not mean a thing as these thugs knew exactly what they were after: The laptop.

                Refusing to allow the call to Apple is obvious sign of that because then someone in Apple would know that this person's laptop is possibly compromised.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: @Jason Don't travel to the US.

                  "What you "know" is irrelevant as this isn't a random case but a targeted personal attack to this guy and Apple. "

                  WTF? and YOU don't know THAT. It is not a FACT that he was targeted. He BELIEVES it, but that does not make it fact. HE doesnt know that. YOU dont know that.

                  What YOU THINK you know is irrelevant, and spouting half truths and repeating opinions doesn't make it any different, but makes you look like an ass.

          2. tfewster Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            I had to travel to the US recently, so I checked company policy for my company devices - And they said to roll over if asked.

            I was expecting to get flagged for my lack of social media accounts, and I asked the officer how his day was going (and his tone softened noticeably). Probably very suspicious activities on my part, but it worked out OK.

            1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

              Re: Don't travel to the US.

              It does help if you treat people with some respect until they demand otherwise. Not everyone is a failed car-park inspector with a limp and a Hitler 'tache.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. Stork Bronze badge

            Re: Don't travel to the US.

            So, do you suggest that also US citizens should just roll over and let a random official rummage through private stuff? One thing is that us aliens do not have rights, but I was under the impression that rules were different...

        3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          I know work is different, but am I the only one who doesn't take a phone or computer on holiday?

      4. N2 Silver badge

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        I just have an "America phone", which they're welcome to unlock, hack, malware or otherwise root to death.

        Very good plan.

      5. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        A nice new laptop feature to request: easily removed BIOS ROM, not EEPROM nor flash nor CMOS, but actual ROM, located underneath where the hard drive goes, for easy MANUAL replacement. Keep a spare handy for when you get back.

      6. JLV Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        Just saying... if you’re _that_ diligent about flying under the radar, ought you not to have posted this as AC?

        1. JLV Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Don't travel to the US.

          Yeah, I know the proper commentard thing to do when you get lots of downvotes is to take like a (hu)man, stiff upper lip and all.

          But, hey, let's doubledown and grab some more downvotes.

          First, a lot of people will blather on about their deep secrets that governments want to steal. But really nothing to see (that's me btw). Might be quite a few of you, but given the site I'll assume at least some of you have valid reasons for concern. So that's NOT why I was being snarky.

          There's something that's been around for a while called stylometry. https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/01/identifying_peo_3.html Basically, you can be "fingerprinted" by your vocabulary, punctuation, etc... It's supposedly quite accurate and I'm pretty sure that's at least one domain where our current pseudo-AI big data stuff shines.

          Now, I know that almost no one uses their real names. But if you are, for some reason, important enough to be on a government's security services radar because of your work in tech (and that is essentially what the CTO of Mozilla is claiming happened) do you want to bet that they don't keep a profile of what you write, even under pseudonyms? And then tie it back to perhaps blog posts or public speaking engagements under your actual name? I mean, you are going on about taking all sorts of deep precautions. Some of which, as others pointed out, look downright calculated to attract extra customs attention. Even if that's not the case today, the internet never forgets so you can always be profiled 5 years from now.

          If you are writing under AC, then I don't think that they can tie you back to your known profile using a short snippet ( 2D FLATSO!!! s aside). And I rather doubt El Reg would volunteer your handle, absent a warrant.

          So, why take the risk and post under your handle? Would you really want custom to be able to tie "I use burner electronics" type of posting to you? Given the great latitude custom agents have to make decisions they could refuse entry and that leaves a permanent black spot. "Have to travel frequently to the US for work" may turn into "can't travel to the US".

          And that from people claiming to be so clever as to take all sorts of precautions? Hah! Take a page from the posters that say "AC because current employer".

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: " It gets a factory reset to cleanse the lower hanging fruit after each trip."

        Not really making much difference then.

        But if it's a work only phone, you protect it by not doing anything else with it.

      8. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        "I never take any of my "real" kit with me"

        Last time our company guys visited US they didn't have anything at all with them, no computer, no phone, nothing. Some clothes and that's that.

        Local branch of the company arranged those for them for the duration of the visit and they downloaded everything they needed from company intranet.

        Much less hassle on the border and no spies ("border control") to corporate secrets.

    3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Mushroom

      @VikiAi Re: Don't travel to the US.

      Whoa!

      Do you think being a non-UK citizen traveling to the UK for work is any better?

      Getting your passport stamped which flags for inspection every time you go back to the UK is not fun.

      And this for complying with the US/UK treaties on doing work and not requiring a work visa. (Yes, I was even charged money to call a number in the UK to speak with an official who agreed with what I was doing and that I was in compliance. )

      So please... don't be a smug git.

      1. Mr Sceptical
        Facepalm

        Re: @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

        @IMG - to be fair, the OP wasn't saying we are any better...

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Boffin

          @Mr Sceptical Re: @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

          Fair?

          Yeah, lets pile on the US and say "I'd never go there..." which makes me think of the woman in 'Keeping up Appearances' (Bucket)

          The truth is that something caused this guy to get flagged.

          He also compounded his mistake by trying to play Perry Mason and tried to incorrectly use his constitutional rights.

          He could have tried to argue the 4th, but already the courts have sided with the CBP.

          If you're going to travel... make sure you know what's on your laptop, storage devices and be prepared to be stopped. This way you'll have no issues.

          The truth... what no one seems to have considered... what happens if you turn over your devices and you end up catching a virus/malware?

          Can you then sue the Government for damages? ;-)

          Will the CBP also provide a document showing chain of custody?

          If they are seizing your equipment under color of law, then they have to follow the rules, don't they? ;-)

          1. BigSLitleP

            Re: @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

            I know what's on my laptop / other devices, and i don't want the US government getting it's grubby little mits on it. I also don't want my kit rooted for general inspection from US "Intelligence" agencies.

            It's not about what's on it, it's about what they might put on it while they have access and what they might decide to keep a copy of.

            1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

              And if they put something on it...

              That would be grounds for a lawsuit, which would be difficult but you could win.

              (You'd have to show that you were religious about anti-virus protection, and that you scanned the device once you got home.) Also you would need to be able to produce a chain of custody showing that you handed over your device.

              There's a bit more, but you get the idea.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

            "The truth is that something caused this guy to get flagged."

            this has NOT been established, by the way. Additional journalism might uncover any facts that prove 'getting flagged' but I don't think that evidence exists. Most likely won't be uncovered without a lawsuit of some kind.

            I expect to see that lawsuit fairly soon.

            1. brotherelf
              Big Brother

              Re: @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

              "Not established he was flagged". True, but:

              I seriously doubt a random CBP officer would have recognized the dude enough to ask questions about his previous employment. So what magical government source does he pull information about past employment of Joe Random Citizen from, with zero notice. (Which means there's established workflows for this, which means it's under legal scrutiny -- this is not calling your buddy in the police force to ask about outstanding parking tickets of your daughter's new boyfriend.)

              1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                Re: @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

                there's established workflows for this, which means it's under legal scrutiny

                I nominate this for Non Sequitur of the Day.

              2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

                @Brotherelf ...Re: @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

                There are two ways this could break down...

                1) He is in GOES and they do a background check of members. Assume that it would have past addresses and employment history.

                They know who he is before he boarded the plane. So this wasn't random...

                2) He gets selected randomly from the set of GOES passengers on the flight.

                They have his background information, and he says something to flag him for further questioning. He could have been caught in a lie, or something.

                Assume that they also have his social media posts. (I doubt it, but its possible)

                Is there a third option?

              3. Kiwi Silver badge
                Holmes

                Re: @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

                So what magical government source does he pull information about past employment of Joe Random Citizen from, with zero notice.

                Before the plane leaves the terminal, the other end (especially places like the USA) already knows who is on the plane.

                In most cases, the tickets have been booked some time in advance, so at the time of booking there is a good chance TPTB know your itenary where international flights are involved.

                He had to get entry/exit visas for the country/ies he was visiting, and being somewhere in Europe...

                Being he's a non-natural US citizen, perhaps (I don't know) he has some extra requirements around leaving the country?

                There is no "zero notice" when you travel internationally (well, when it involves air travel of some duration, driving up to a border post is another matter - we Kiwi's don't get to do that very often :) ). Your tickets are booked in advance, you have to apply for visas and have to notify when you expect to leave - your plans are known well in advance.

            2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
              Boffin

              @Bob ...Re: @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

              Yes, we don't know what we don't know.

              However my point is that there isn't a 'random' check where you are whisked away for further questioning.

              I mean that random selection is possible, however how you answer the initial questions would cause the situation to escalate.

              I don't expect a lawsuit.

              He has no case.

              He could try to sue that he was illegally detained under color of the law, claim a violation of his 4th amendment rights, but the case would be dismissed outright because of prior case law supporting the government.

          3. Someone Else Silver badge

            @Ian Michael Gumby -- Re: @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

            If they are seizing your equipment under color of law, then they have to follow the rules, don't they? ;-)

            Short answer: No

            Longer answer: Shirley, you jest. This is the USofA, Co, Inc. Fuck Yeah! We (and only We) decide what the rules are for this hour subject to change without notice and yer gonna like it whether you like it or not!

            1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

              @ Someone else. Re: @Ian Michael Gumby -- @Mr Sceptical @VikiAi Don't travel to the US.

              Stop calling me Shirley.

              No I don't jest.

              They do. However if they don't and get caught... its not going to be pretty and of course they'll try to bury it.

    4. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Don't travel to the US.

      Been in and out of the USA many times as recently as several weeks ago, incidentally also to San Francisco. Fingers crossed, I would state that I have never once had a problem entering the USA, but it is always harrowing to see some unfortunate almost literally dragged away by the goon squads.

      Just to make our American cousins feel better about it, the UK "Border Agency" can be infinitely worse. There is something about giving low pay grade public servants police-style uniforms that turns them into 'Pound Shop Hitlers". Coupled then with putting only one PSH on the 'None EU/UK Citizens" immigration control desk at peak arrival time is guaranteed to make someone lose their temper .. which just plays into their hands.

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        Indeed, I've had a few run ins with UK immigration, and I'm a citizen born and bred. I just hate their attitude and make it plain that I hate it. I have time to waste. And i make it clear I WILL be using their actual names on social media if they try to make my life difficult. They usually sigh and move on to lower hanging fruit

      2. Blank Reg

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        I've never had any issue entering the UK in the 10 or so times I've been, in fact, out of the couple dozen countries I've visited only the USA has ever given be any sort of trouble at the border. And I've been to Russia, China, most of Europe, Japan and Korea.

        For every country except the USA, it's rare that they even talk to me, they look at my Canadian passport and just stamp it, no questions asked.

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Don't travel to the US.

      I have an idea:

      a) fed-ex all "real" devices to/from your destination endpoints

      b) carry only what you need to have on a 'burn device'.

      It's not hard (in most cases) to create a gmail (or other) mail address, then forward everything to it while you're away, and fix it back when you return.

      And other than listening to music or watching movies on a plane [SD cards good for this], a smart phone isn't all that necessary.

      Avoid the problem entirely by making yourself a VERY small "digital target".

      Or you can have FUN with them by doing something like this:

      1. use FreeBSD on your laptop

      2. create a jail that TSA can log into. Make sure the passwords are pejorative towards them.

      3. Make it log into a console, not a GUI, and pressing any ALT+F-key gets you a virtual console into the jail [I know how, I have done this, and it's not that difficult]. You can still SSH into the host from the jail...

      4. When TSA has you power it up, he sees a classic login prompt on a text console. When he asks for user+password, give him the one that's pejorative to TSA. "What, that's my password!"

      5. If they want 'root' password too, give them THAT one. A FreeBSD jail has a different security context, so root's password is not the same as the host's. Make THAT one pejorative towards them as well, or a profane term, or something similar.

      Anyway, you give them what they want, just like they ask, and they shouldn't complain, but you're also protesting and pissing them off. Smile the entire time.

      1. Pascal

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        Yes, because we all know the one thing that's the most likely to get you through such an inspection without any problems is being the smartass guy with "TSA iz Teh Sux" as a password.

      2. Trixr Bronze badge

        Re: Don't travel to the US.

        Yeah, the juvenile password thing isn't so "fun" if you're being "interviewed" for 6 hours. Do the other stuff if you like. But if you genuinely want to keep your stuff private, then keep a low profile rather than acting like a d*ck.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't travel to the US.

      like the security theatre at the airports, US border crossing is one of those challenges, which you either, well, challenge by applying a "don't go there" policy - or adapt. And, for adaptation, cloud is (still) your friend. Until they start using them brain scanners (which is likely, not if but when the technology is perfected). Then... well, I hope people will figure another anti-instrusion way. Fake, implanted thoughts, perhaps ;)

    7. Charles 9 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Don't travel to the US.

      "(I hear there will soon be a wall to enforce this anyway.)"

      I would love to see how a country will be able to place a wall across its entire Pacific, Atlantic, AND Golf coastline, seeing as how traveling by boat is already a notorious route for those seeking ill gain.

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    FAIL

    Gal said the agents did take away his Global Entry pass, which allows express entry through customs, as punishment for not complying with their demands.

    No loss apparently, since this story appears to prove that it doesn't allow express entry through customs after all.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      @taken handle...

      Uhm actually it does.

      You and most here have no clue as to how much data each country has on you from the time you book your flight... and then when you actually board the flight.

      What isn't being said is why he got flagged in the first place.

      I used to do a bit of globe trotting and never got flagged.

      The only time I had issues is when I couldn't get a good set of finger prints or photograph of face... the machines are geared towards people who are 5'6" so as someone over 6' you have to bend down to get a good shot. Only then do you get flagged, talk to an agent for 30 seconds and told to move on.

      And if you don't have GOES, you can always use the passport app which some claim is faster than GOES.

      The sad truth... even if he didn't use GOES, and just used his passport and walked thru the system, he still would have been flagged for further inspection.

      His real mistake is to think he could take the 5th (its the wrong amendment) He could have tried to argue the 4th, but that too would have failed.

      1. Frank Bitterlich

        Re: @taken handle...

        "What isn't being said is why he got flagged in the first place."

        No. Because nobody but the CBP agents know. But what they grilled him about is probably a clue.

        Ask Jacob Appelbaum about this. He has a few stories like this one to tell.

        "I used to do a bit of globe trotting and never got flagged."

        Congrats. And that means... what? That it's probably his own fault?

        /shakes head

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          @Frank Re: @taken handle...

          You're right, the CBP knows why the flagged him.

          But then so should he...

          Something he said. Some place he traveled, who he met with...

          His political views. His relatives.. A whole slew of possible reasons.

          Or it could have been random and he said something to piss them off.

          I've never had an issue w CBP in the US. In the UK? Different story.

          1. Tomato42 Silver badge

            Re: @Frank @taken handle...

            > His political views

            yes, totally not a sign of totalitarian fascist regime

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Frank @taken handle...

            "His political views. "

            OK, I can believe that. One piece of truth.

      2. Boo Radley

        Re: @taken handle...

        All my international travel was post 9/11, and with a name like James Smith, I can't count the number of times I was flagged for closer inspection. Once, they did it five times for one flight. Doesn't help that I bear a close resemblance to the late Timothy McVeigh.

      3. Cxwf

        Re: @taken handle...

        The thing is, it didn’t fail, it succeeded . They let him go with no charges and didn’t seize his property, so I’d call that a win. Yes it took 3 hours, probably because they were pissed they couldn’t bully him into compliance- so by all means hate on the CBP, but the guy won.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          @Cxwf Re: @taken handle...

          According to the article he was compliant, but said he couldn't hand over his Apple stuff without talking to a lawyer or someone from Apple.

          He wasn't lying or didn't appear to be lying.

          So what would they hold him on.

          The major thing... Apple has deep pockets. Meaning they could go to court and fight this where average citizen couldn't.

          There's more, but the bottom line... he lost his GOES and we'll have to see what happens on his next international trip.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Immigration and customs are distinct things. Two whole separate teams of people with the power to make your life difficult, if only for a time.

  3. Flip
    Thumb Up

    Need more court challenges

    I would love to see more people challenging random border searches esp. re: unlocking cellphones and/or laptops. I know it's not up to "regular folk" who can't afford the legal expenses individually, but having help from civil-liberty organizations is a way to go. Unfortunately this would paint a pretty big target on people's backs and make it tough traveling in the future.

    1. JeevesMkII

      Re: Need more court challenges

      It's OK if you're a citizen, because what are they going to do? But if if you're a foreigner, all you're going to achieve is getting frogmarched back to your plane (at your own expense) and told never to come back.

      If you have to go to the USA, get a landfill android and netbook to take. Let them have fun with your zero data.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Need more court challenges

        If you have to go to the USA, get a landfill android and netbook to take. Let them have fun with your zero data.

        You're better off with a memorised password only and data stored in an online container, then buy your gear there as it's a lot cheaper (well, maybe not that much longer due to Trump's messing around with trade agreements). I'd just take a simple phone along, and if they want access to that, fine - it'll just have my lawyer's number in it :).

        I set up all of that a long time ago, I work with too much confidential data to ever take that risk.

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
        Mushroom

        @Jeeves Re: Need more court challenges

        Wow.

        Check your attitude mate!

        You think the UK is better?

        Think again. And yeah its from personal experience.

        I've been put in to the penalty box many times in London Heathrow and almost missed my connecting flight because of it.

        And yeah, until I got a new passport, I was always flagged for extra attention.

        1. MrXavia

          Re: @Jeeves Need more court challenges

          Do you know what you did to be flagged?

          1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

            Re: @Jeeves Need more court challenges

            Yup.

            I entered the country. ;-)

            Pretty much that's all it took and once flagged, I'm always going to be flagged until I get a new passport.

            The Passport Control agents have a lot of power and discretion on what they can do with you.

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: @Jeeves Need more court challenges

          Yes, replacement or duplicate passports are handy for regular travellers. Some governments even recommend them for certain undemocratic authoritarian countries, like say, the USA, UK, etc...

          1. Tuomas Hosia

            Re: @Jeeves Need more court challenges

            "... even recommend them for certain undemocratic authoritarian countries, like say, the USA, UK,"

            .. and Soviet Union when it was still existing. Probably applies to Russia as well.

            Anyway, I had passport full of border control stamps and visas to SU and before trip in US I was strongly advised to get a new passport, by Police.

            Applies to other way round too, of course, but less problems: The US people are even more paranoid/bullies at border than SU people were. Russian border control is very formal but no intentional bullying like this if papers are OK, these guys are professionals.

      3. David Shaw

        Re: Need more court challenges

        re: "But if if you're a foreigner,..." very true

        a very, very, senior colleague of mine from work (CERN at the time) was frogmarched out of the US Border Area (which seems not to be the US so none of that 'amendment' constitution stuff applies anyway) and sent back immediately to Geneva because the CBP at the time asked him a few questions.

        Charles Angry (accurate pseudonym) was not impressed, I don't know if he showed them his 1984 physics nobel prize, or just his weekly teaching contracts with MIT & Stanford etc. but he was evicted, for a week or two until diplomacy was brought to bear. I haven't been back since either - tho' I really like the place.

        1. PeterKr

          Re: Need more court challenges

          Somewhat similar story with a friend of mine: She is a physicist who flew in from India to attend a symposium on NMR. When they heard that she was here for something "nuclear", she was held for a number of hours as the TSA went up the chain trying to figure out what to do. Eventually, they called in an expert, who started laughing when they claimed she was here to steal nuclear secrets, and she was allowed in without further incident.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: Need more court challenges

            Similar misunderstanding: I know of a few people who were denied entry to Canada when they were attempting to go to rally racing events. The Canadian border guards heard "rally" and thought they were going to a political protest.

        2. Trixr Bronze badge

          Re: Need more court challenges

          That Constitution stuff doesn't apply us foreign nationals anyway. Little known fact.

          1. Col_Panek

            Re: Need more court challenges

            It also doesn't apply to us "Muricans in New York who are within 100 miles of the border protection area. Many have been stopped on the Northway outside Albany, mostly smuggling untaxed cigarettes from the Mohawk reservation on the border.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      @Flip Re: Need more court challenges

      I guess you really don't know the law or talk to enough lawyers.

      The case law is settled. The government wins, if they play by the rules.

      No civil liberties group will raise this issue because there is no new argument that can be raised.

      The 4th Amendment challenge was done and the courts shot it down.

      You can challenge them... but at what cost? Weigh that against the contents on your laptop or phone.

      Its not worth the fight.

      As I said, the Government has to play by their rules. And when they don't you can sue. But even then they stack the deck against you.

      We can look at the Obama Administration's unmasking of US individuals who communicate outside the US. The capture of intel by the NSA is legal. Unmasking for political reasons is not. We'll hopefully see more information on this after the Mueller report is released to the public.

      You want to learn more, go to the Judicial Watch website which is the number one group raising FOIA requests and have had to deal with the US Government playing dirty tricks to hide information.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Flip Need more court challenges

        "Its not worth the fight."

        Let the nazis win by default, right.

        "As I said, the Government has to play by their rules"

        And you lie: They don't "have to" do fu**ing anything they don't want to do. No proof of crimes, no crimes.

        *That's* the way it's done.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Flip Need more court challenges

          "Its not worth the fight."

          smart ass reply: "Let the nazis win by default, right."

          No. But it takes two things to be successful against the gov't: time and money.

          Unless you are extremely wealthy, you will run out of money(time) before it will. Your innocence or guilt is beside the point. The government has virtually unlimited resources to prosecute you. If you are less than a multimillionaire, it's not worth the fight.

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Holmes

            Re: @Flip Need more court challenges

            If you are less than a multimillionaire, it's not worth the fight.

            You are correct in saying they will probably win.

            But....

            The reason why they are so easily able to win is because of such attitudes. If everyone stood up to TPTB when they abused their powers, instead of rolling over and taking it, they would quickly learn NOT to waste their time and resources by playing against the rules.

            The courts (when they're not part of the game) also get annoyed with it and quickly tire of seeing the same government departments up for the same charges by different people. They can very quickly start to stomp not on the little guy but on TPTB who are abusing their powers. I've watched it happen myself, and sometimes it is a real pleasure. A good judge knows the private citizen won't have the same resources as TPTB, and also knows the PC won't have the knowledge or experience whereas TPTB have been there before, have the experience, and should know what's what. After all, they can afford expensive lawyers to advise them.

            So if we don't roll over, they eventually get the idea. It's the same reason why so many occupation shave failed over time. A good chance you'll lose - many will, but in time the fight will be won.

            I am speaking from exceptionally bitter experience.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: @Flip Need more court challenges

        "The case law is settled. The government wins, if they play by the rules."

        No it's not. Cases are still ongoing, and the highest ruling to date (Riley v. California) says a warrant is required for any kind of detainment, but the "border search exception" has not yet been put to the Riley test. Cases concerning this combination are still running through the courts, and SCOTUS has yet to rule specifically on electronic devices at the border.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news, if they decide to EXECUTE you, according to their “supreme court” you do not have the right for it do be done painlessly. (Even if you are a citizen.)

    OK, it’s not as bad as Saudi Arabia or a few other places. But why anyone from the relatively-civilised parts of the world would ever want to go there is completely beyond me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yet, although America (Trumpistan) does seem to be on a short slide to where anything Trump says goes and he does appear to be a brutal asshat.

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Don't be so naive

        The main differences between Trump and Obama or Bill Clinton is that Trump usually says what he is going to do, no matter how rotten it is. Whereas Obama and Clinton would greasily lie about how good their intentions were, and "mistakes were made (but not by me)".

        Given the choice between an outright swine like Trump and a corrupt, dissembling hypocrite like Clinton or Obama, give me the swine any time. At least he's not pretending to be better than he is.

        Jesus could have been speaking about Obama when he said,

        "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness".

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Don't be so naive

          Sorry about the typo in my first version of the above - I wrote "Obama" for "Trump".

          DOH!

          1. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: Don't be so naive

            You seem to have forgotten to mention Geedubya the architect of the war on terror who was able to create the large and complex Patriot Act almost overnight after the surprise and shock of 9/11 and effectively removing many of America's supposed rights equally as quickly.

          2. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: Don't be so naive

            Gosh - first time I have ever seen so many downvotes for correcting a typo.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Don't be so naive

          Jesus could have been speaking about Obama

          The fact that you've used that quote, in that context, reveals that you don't actually have a clue what that passage is about..

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Sorry to disappoint you, but this sh**show started after 9/11 when *all* politicians were happily complicit in signing away all rights for *anyone* including US citizens when they approved the Patriot Act. That act has ripped the heart out of many rights that people had. The DHS was authorised by it, the CBP gets funding through it (via DHS), and while everyone pointed fingers at the evil bagman in Pakistan, the quietly industrious in the US government got on with turning the country more and more into a totalitarian state.

        Of course, other countries are just as bad, the UK has RIPA and other acts that were authorised by similarly complicit politicians for the sake of 'protecting our citizens', as do others. All that you need to do is look at cases of people detained at the UK border (and trust me, the back rooms at Border Control in LHR Terminal 3 are *not* pleasant). So, as much as we like to harp on about Trump, Trump is just taking what his predecessors did and ramping it up some more. It's the faceless, nameless mandarins you would never see in the Capitol or the Houses of Parliament you need to worry about, not the ones who end up with their faces on telly...

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Boffin

          @anothercynic

          You got taken to a back room?

          I just got placed in to a penalty box while they drank their coffee thinking about what to do with me.

          I guess it pays to being clean cut and polite... ;-)

          Of course having a major Fortune 100 Global client as my reason for travel could have helped.

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: @anothercynic

            Unless you refer to the penalty box as the grotty room (with a one-way mirror) behind the door behind the entry desks, no, believe me, the back rooms are no better... What you look like doesn't really matter. You're all stuck on bad airport seating in an airless, beige room with crap neon lighting, no power and certainly no mobile signal (and warnings that mobiles are to be kept switched off) until it's finally time for you to be spoken to by a dour-faced Border Agency official trying to establish whether you're there to steal someone's job and enrich yourself on the benefits system, or whether you're really just there for 3 days for a series of meetings.

            1. 10forcash Bronze badge

              Re: @anothercynic

              "You're all stuck on bad airport seating in an airless, beige room with crap neon lighting"

              Neon lighting? i've only seen fluroescent lighting in airport 'back office' areas - you sure they didn't slip you into their onsite 'Blue Oyster Bar'?

            2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: @anothercynic

              Naw Penalty Box is a roped off section with uncomfortable chairs where they try to make you sweat as other passengers watch you sit there ...

              Not as bad as the back room.

          2. Kabukiwookie

            Re: @anothercynic

            I guess it pays to being clean cut and polite...

            Remember if someone starts beating the crap out of you. The correct phrase is 'Thank you sir, may I have another?'

            Staying polite when you're being abused != politeness. It equals fear of reprisal.

          3. Orv Silver badge

            Re: @anothercynic

            Apple seems like a pretty major client.

    2. LenG

      Why would I want to go there? Occasionally to visit friends but mainly because it is in the way when I visit a lot of places I do want to go to. Once upon a time there were international transit lounges where you could wait for an onward connection without having to clear customs and immigration. Seems a sensible idea to me - saves a lot of time and work for both travellers and border officers.

      1. Mr Sceptical
        WTF?

        It's an ongoing mystery to my why US airports have no transit lounges - it just creates a massive backlog and aggro to transiting passengers.

        If they did - they'd have happier passengers with more opportunities to buy American goods - look to SG as an example of how to do airports.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          It's not a mystery though. The US never considered its airports to be transit points. They always were a port of entry. As such, their designs have *always* been a "come off the plane, through the border, then fly somewhere else".

          At LAX, Air New Zealand used to have a so-called 'sterile lounge' for passengers transiting through Terminal 2 on NZ001 (while the plane was being refuelled for its next leg) but who didn't enter the Koru Lounge (which required you to go through border control), but since ANZ moved to the Tom Bradley Terminal (the massive international complex at the end of the loop), that's disappeared because again, the US doesn't want to bother with keeping travellers segregated, so you're required to enter the country.

          Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen has a similar layout. You need to have a transit visa to travel through it (unless your country has visa-free access to Denmark/EU), otherwise you are kept airside in a tiny space by passport control until your flight departs (and its gate has closed) and you are collected by car and driven across. It's not pleasant.

          Until Amsterdam Schiphol went to 'central security', they also had a similar thing... If your flight arrived at a non-Schengen gate and you were leaving from a non-Schengen gate, you were either ferried across by bus, or you had to go through border control into the big pool of Schengen people. They've since (thankfully) done away with the 'at gate' security rubbish. Brussels Zaventem ditto. Frankfurt still has some gates where there is border control and security at the gate (particularly Terminal 2 for some... ahem... 'third world' airlines and destinations).

          1. A.P. Veening

            Until Amsterdam Schiphol went to 'central security', they also had a similar thing

            Nonsens, Schiphol has a well deserved reputation for being very transfer friendly as it is a major transfer hub with a smallish home market. You may have experienced it sometime during a reconstruction, but generally the "airside" part of it is hazzle free for transfer passengers (except for the long distances).

          2. veti Silver badge

            Not true. I remember transiting through US airports without having to go through customs and immigration.

            The change happened, surprisingly enough, shortly after 9/11. A few months later I had the misfortune to transit through LAX, and was frankly incredulous at the new rules. Some airport staff acknowledged that they didn't know why it had changed, but it had and I now had to spend my 3 hours on US soil standing in lines and explaining to jaded and undertrained officials why I didn't have an address there.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              It changed because many of the 9/11 hijackers transited from Canada before boarding their destined flights. They realized that someone could exploit an international transfer to attack a transit city, and there's no real way to make any safeguards against that unless all the passengers are re-screened upon entry.

              1. A.P. Veening

                Security rescreening of international transfer passengers can be done without going through customs, all major and most minor airports outside of the USA have that possibility. However, that same security rescreening wouldn't have caught those 9/11 hijackers either as box cutters were allowed through by US security as well.

                1. anothercynic Silver badge

                  That's where the crux of the problem is... But it's easier forcing your new draconian rules on everyone when they officially enter your territory (through passport control). Airside outside passport control tends to be 'international waters' and law and the reach of the law become a lot more nebulous :-)

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  "Security rescreening of international transfer passengers can be done without going through customs, all major and most minor airports outside of the USA have that possibility."

                  But not the baggage necessarily (including the checked baggage). Because of inconsistent international standards, all baggage (hand-carry and checked) need to be re-screened upon entering the US, to help prevent using a lax or bribed origin country to slip a suitcase bomb onto a US flight.

                  1. A.P. Veening

                    Security rescreening of checked baggage can be done without going through customs, all major and most minor airports outside of the USA have that possibility and most do since shortly after 21 December 1988 (Pan Am Flight 103, Lockerbie). And nearly all of them do that without bothering the passenger about it if there is no problem.

                3. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Unless they chose a more pliable or lax country as the starting point. Applicable to both passengers and baggage.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                https://cis.org/Kephart/No-911-Hijackers-Came-Through-Canada-Doesnt-Mean-Canada-TerroristFree

        2. Kabukiwookie

          This way you always have to through customs and at the mercy of abusive customs officials and searches.

          Whenever I travel to Europe, I will never be going East even if the ticket happens to be cheaper.

    3. Archtech Silver badge

      They don't even know how

      Quite apart from the fact that most US government employees actively enjoy inflicting pain on others, they have apparently never worked out how to kill someone painlessly. Indeed, all the news about the three methods mostly used - the electric chair, gas and the needle - is about how hideously painful and prolonged a death they cause.

      All those forms of execution obviously and deliberately flout the constitutional prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment". That they are vilely cruel is undeniable, and none of them is much used in any other nation. The few countries that still execute serious criminals do it by more merciful means such as hanging or shooting. (Both of which are almost instantaneous and relatively pain-free if done right).

      1. Blazde

        Re: They don't even know how

        if done right

        Hanging by traditional methods is very difficult to get right. Supposedly most executions resulted in slow painful asphyxiation rather than the instant painless neck-breaking that's intended, and that's why it's no longer used. (That is: it's no longer used because it's nasty to watch when it goes wrong, not because it's painful for the executed).

        You would think with modern technology they could improve it though. I'm thinking some kind of high powered pneumatic robot that just rips the con's head clean off..

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: They don't even know how

          Most forms of execution including some of the apparently humane ones leave the brain active for up to four minutes according to some reports. That includes beheading where there are old stories of heads continuing to try to speak, eyes rolling and looking around. A slaughterhouse humane killer that effectively stirs the brains almost instantly may be better but messier.

          Nuking would work but may be too expensive.

        2. ButlerInstitute

          Re: They don't even know how

          It's called a guillotine.

          Also, there are two kinds of hanging. One, without a "drop" causes death by asphyxiation, as noted above. I think it is still used in some parts of the world - often in public as a deterrent....

          The other, the one with a "drop", causes death by breaking the neck. It was used in the UK until the death penalty ceased to be used in the mid-1960s. Yes it could go wrong but my understanding is that the length of the drop would be selected according to the weight of the criminal to cause a very quick death by breaking the neck without either ripping the head off or not being an abrupt enough stop and causing asphyxiation. A particular problem if the prisoner had attempted suicide by cutting his throat.

        3. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: They don't even know how

          My wife is descended from William Calcraft, the UK's last public executioner: Wikipedia link. He specialized in "short drop" hangings where the hanged could take a long time to die. Apparently he was favoured by the establishment for people that they really disliked - Although some said that he was just incompetent, or that he liked to "entertain" the crowd...

          1. Rajesh Kanungo

            Re: They don't even know how

            You are a brave man :)

      2. horriblicious

        Re: They don't even know how

        You don't understand. The methods now used are kind to the witnesses, who no longer have to watch a neck snap at a hanging or see blood splatter from a shooting or beheading. A lot of the opposition to capital punishment goes away if you can make it seem neat and painless and especially not-bloody - even if it is actually is even more painful. Sad really.

      3. mark l 2 Silver badge

        Re: They don't even know how

        There was a documentary on the BBC a few years ago about a more humane way of executing prisoners on death row. One suggestion was to replace the oxygen in the air with another gas such as carbon monoxide or nitrogen. The person just feels sleepy has a slight feeling of euphoria before passing out and eventually croaking from hypoxia.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: They don't even know how

          This is apparently the method favored by the Final Exit folks. For one thing it's extremely difficult to screw up. They usually use helium, because it will displace oxygen out of an upside-down bag.

          The stories of people who have been rescued after accidentally entering nitrogen-purged confined spaces seem to confirm that this is painless. Unconsciousness happens almost instantly, death within a few minutes. (This is why spaces like that are so dangerous.)

          As to why it's not used, I think maybe it's the connotations that gas chambers have had since WWII or so.

        2. Spasticus Autisticus
          Black Helicopters

          Michael Portillo did a program about the best/nicest to do away with people. He experienced hypoxia in an RAF (I think) testing facility used to train pilots to recognise the signs and would have happily died if the instructor hadn't put his mask back on.

          A telling part of the program was when he told an American that being executed via hypoxia would be painless and you go out on a high, the American spat out something along the lines of 'I don't want murderers and rapists to die happy, I want them to suffer.'

          America! The New World, a developing nation, peopled by Europe's religious nutters, rouges and chancers - with a few good people too no doubt :)

    4. sprograms

      This (and many of the other comments) from presumably knowledgeable tech people give me pause. Google and Facebook fly entire planeloads of tech people to and from China (PRC) every weekday. Friends of mine fly there without a qualm in order to source parts. And yet, there is no more totalitarian government in the world, nor one who kills more of its citizens every year, nor one who intercepts more WIFI and cell messages/texts/emails. But people find the US difficult? Won't fly there? Yes, some of the security staff are IQ < 95. Many of them feel they'll make their boss less angry by overdoing rather than under-doing it. Now, if they could just move the airport guys over to the cargo terminal to catch the drug shipments, they'd make a bit more sense to me. I would also point out this peculiarity, that US government agencies and contractors have hired (and arranged visas for) PRC physicists and programmers. This confusion has apparently been going on for several decades.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        FWIW, I’m the anon OP of this thread and I’d absolutely not travel to China either.

      2. Kabukiwookie

        This may have something to do with fact that China doesn't portray itself.to the world as the defender for Freedom and Democracy(tm), while incarcerating more of its own citizens than the big bad China, openly admits to using torture (sorry, 'enhanced iterrogation'), has constant foreign interventions, topples a democratically elected government doesn't do what the US wants and dabbles in the occasional threat against its supposed allies (like passing a law to invade The Netherlands if a US citizen is ever put on trial at ICJ in the Hague), Then it on occasion goes on full scale wars of agression (this is the legal tern btw and a war crime) on blatantly proven false pretenses.

        Yep, can't imagine why anyone would have more of a problem with the US than with China.

        After all, USians are obviously 'The Good Guys'(tm) in all this.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Third world?

    The US is quickly turning itself into a third world country.

    1. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Re: Third world?

      In 3rd world countries, people have more freedom and more rights than in the USA.

      1. LDS Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Third world?

        Especially when they can bribe for them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Third world?

          @LDS

          I have friends from West Africa who can attest to that.

    2. RFC822

      Re: Third world?

      The US is quickly turning itself into a third world country.

      Given the current level of political incompetence in the UK, can we be far behind?

      1. BigSLitleP

        Re: Third world?

        Our politicians do love to copy America, which considering what a shit hole country that is turning in to doesn't seem to be the best idea.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: UK far behind?

        Search: Five Eyes

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Third world?

        "Given the current level of political incompetence in the UK, can we be far behind?"

        Hate to tell you *but* ....... we are a 3rd world country in all but name and have been there for years. !!!

        The level of incompetence we are seeing with the Brexit process (nothing to do with being for or against Brexit !!!) is a perfect indicator.

        (Another indicator is the fact that we have to 'simplify' the whole thing to a buzzword 'BREXIT' to allow the politicians to explain the whole thing to the dumb voters. Their level of contempt for the people that put them in the HoC is showing more than usual.)

        We have shown the world that we are living off 'past glories' and could not plan our way out of a wet paper bag. Our failure to decide what we want and inability to get past 'tribal wrangling' shows that we are no better than any 3rd world country !!!

        Down vote if you 'need' to but you really need to remove the 'rose tints' and see the country as the rest of the world sees us, before it is too late !!!.

        Such a shame as Britain used to be 'Great' !!! ;) :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Third world?

          "We have shown the world that we are living off 'past glories' and could not plan our way out of a wet paper bag. "

          If it helps there are so many EU countries where the management can't do that either, mine included.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Third world?

      I thought it was already a Third World country. (using the current meaning of Third World, not the original one).

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: Third world?

        Only if you feel magnanimous. The USA is the first country in the world to have reached Fourth World status.

  6. Kev99 Bronze badge

    I'd love to know how these TSA goofs can openly and wantonly violate the Fourth Amendment.

    1. whitepines Silver badge

      And I'm trying to figure out why Apple travel policy is not to take any devices with you, or make sure they're wiped before coming back through US customs. Surely the basic idea is don't try to take valuable accessible data through customs? Might be a good idea to lock your own cloud account too, then report back to corporate in person for an unlock.

      And make sure you use a quantum resistant encryption algorithm to transfer data once in the destination countries. Just because us serfs don't have quantum computers to break symmetric crypto doesn't mean 5 eyes doesn't (or the FSB, or China's security agencies)...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "And I'm trying to figure out why Apple travel policy is not to take any devices with you, or make sure they're wiped before coming back through US customs."

        What if your job transfer large amounts of confidential data from one country to another: too much to do through the Internet? AND you need to be able to bring it back (say, updated)?

        1. whitepines Silver badge

          Mail it encrypted. At least the copying will be more limited than the other way, and theoretically the encryption should hold the secrets until they are of no further commercial relevance.

          Or accept the fact that if you force your employees to do this, one will eventually crack and give up your sensitive data like an unwanted kitten. At which point either your competitors will suddenly be able to force you out of the market, or you might find yourself on the wrong end of various probes (GDPR violations for starters).

          Mail sounds safer, if slower....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Well, one might have thought that until the latest Intel security issue, perhaps the laptop has an AMD CPU without the debugger left in?

          2. Martijn Otto

            It doesn't have to be slower. Just let an employee travel with the encrypted data, but make sure the employee doesn't have the key for decryption.

            1. LucreLout Silver badge

              make sure the employee doesn't have the key for decryption.

              Marvellous way to lose an employee for a few years when they're instructed to provide the key and claim they can't. "They all say that hour honour; just send him to jail for a decade and we'll see if he's remembered it".

            2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Bad idea

              Unless you want to get rid of an employee - who'll prolly end up incarcerated for the rest of his/her life.

              Bah: Ninja'd

              1. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: Bad idea

                Please, don't anybody even think of suggesting that to Carol the Embittered Secretary, as a way of finally ridding herself of the PHB.

            3. David Austin

              Would you *Really* want to be the person standing in front of the TSA Agent saying "Sorry, I don't have the encryption key for that"?

              1. ChrisC

                Mmm, how long will it be before the standard "did you pack your suitcase yourself?" question at check-in gets a follow-up "and do any of your storage devices contain encrypted data for which you don't have the unlock key?"...

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Yes, I do. The bootloader for my android device contains some encrypted secrets, and there are some more in all of the extra blobs Google's put on. Unfortunately, I do not have the ability to decrypt those for you. After you've stolen my phone by force after I refused to give it to you and attacked it with whatever you're going to use, could you let me know the keys for those as well? I could use them. Thanks.

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          What if your job transfer large amounts of confidential data from one country to another: too much to do through the Internet?

          How big would that have to be exactly? I mean, bandwidth in most places is pretty good and most cities have some pretty fast leased lines available.

          I'm not suggesting you're wrong, merely looking for some idea of the size of data you'd have to transfer to be "too big for the internet".

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            hire Johnny Mnemonic....

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              hire Johnny Mnemonic....

              I have 32 times his piffling 8 gig in my phone's micro SD card.

            2. Mr Sceptical
              Terminator

              Beat me to it...

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            "[L]ooking for some idea of the size of data you'd have to transfer to be "too big for the internet"."

            It could be a lot of things, depending on the details of where it came from and where it's going. Remember the original quote to "never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck full of tapes [or micro SD cards] driving down a highway". Consider what would happen if you have data about mineral investigations taken on board a ship in the middle of the ocean. You have been operating many devices, and the analysts now have to take the data. It is a lot of data that needs a lot of computing capacity to understand, and neither the analysts nor the computing is on board. You want to get that data back to corporate headquarters. If you're on the ocean, you probably don't have fiber out to you. A satellite will be bandwidth limited. If your file is very large, the satellite would be prohibitively slow to get the data in, and would also shut down the internet for all the people on board. Meanwhile, you could write the data to a hard drive and fly it back by helicopter in a matter of hours.

            It requires you to generate a lot of data, and it is more likely if your internet is slow, but it is done at times. For example, the massive amounts of data received by astronomers' radio telescopes is too large for the internet, and they put a bunch of hard drives on an airplane to get them back to the research institution.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            A more sophisticated trick is to poke directly at the management software of a portable harddisk and have it mark a modest disk area as bad sectors. Until you undo that, any access will simply not hit that part - it won't even show up in a partition table.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Not even with a low-level raw image copy geared to aggressively attack supposed bad sectors as hiding spots?

              1. A.P. Veening

                That might do it, but that is way above the pay grade of those CBP goons and I expect you need a higher than medior staffer at No Such Agency to actually pull it off. Guys from the CCC can do it without breaking a sweat, but Uncle Sam doesn't pay nearly enough.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  But you'd think the grunts would have someone over them: a specialist or something such that when they actually seize the stuff, they turn it over to the specialist to quickly grab the copies.

                  1. A.P. Veening

                    You would think so, but Uncle Sam doesn't pay enough to attract (leave alone retain) specialists of that calibre.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      The irony is that all of this is within reach of the average intelligent specialist operator who can read instructions, whereas border control has a simple problem called volume.

                      In addition, smart operators know where to get passports in different names so the no-fly list becomes a no-frigging-point list as well (other than a bit of security theater for the plebs) and given that the chips in passports can be rewritten (from some 30 meters away even), updating the embedded biometrics is also not going to be hard.

                      By the way, note that we're still assuming here that the Bad Guy point of entry is still by plane. There's plenty of wet stuff surrounding the place too.

                      Frankly, they're wasting their time IMHO other than for petty idiots, but someone is making VAST amounts of profit running all of this..

                      1. A.P. Veening

                        By the way, note that we're still assuming here that the Bad Guy point of entry is still by plane. There's plenty of wet stuff surrounding the place too.

                        That coast line is still somewhat limited in length. The next bunch of Bad Guys will come in by plane, but will not land at any airport. Instead they will use parachutes and good luck finding them.

                        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                          Somewhat limited? The US faces two oceans and its east coast curves around to extend westward, too. All in all, the US has over 5,000 miles of coastline just in the lower 48 states (Alaska with its jagged coastline and Aleutian archipelago can double that total by itself, while Hawaii can tack on about another 750). It actually cracks the top 10 in terms of total coastline. Archipelagos like the Philippines and Indonesia rank higher, but the real kings are the Arctic countries where their coastlines are especially ragged (Russia, Greenland, Norway, and Canada are in the top 10, Canada is #1). Antarctica does rank in at #10, but that's the only Antarctic landmass to speak of.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                As far as I know, a drive will not no longer touch areas marked as bad because in the case of real damage you get into CRC failures and repeated attempts at recalibration - the drive gets very, very noisy and throughput pretty much dies (it also causes cache discards). That's why it tends to be a one way process.

                Until you reset the bad sector map you have effectively marked an area of the drive as off limits to the head. It's a good thing you require low level access to the drive to do this, because it's a WAY more effective means to put data out of reach than, for instance, encryption - it's instantaneous.

                Come to think of it, I wonder if you could mess with SSDs in a similar fashion by poking at the wear levelling and management mechanism.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What if your job transfer large amounts of confidential data from one country to another: too much to do through the Internet? AND you need to be able to bring it back (say, updated)?

          A hollow coin is indistinguishable from the real thing and can comfortably hide one of two 256GB micro SD cards. There you go, half a terabyte - per coin. Just be careful when you tip someone.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Is that proven even against x-rays? Remember that loose change is supposed to be emptied and taken through the x-ray machine.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Depends on how thick the coins are and what they're made of. In addition, if you're really worried about them make sure they're in a pile or stand edge upright - unless specifically made aware of the issue, operators don't have the time to watch for minor discrepancies.

              That all said, why bother? There are so many ways to cart data around electronically that doing it physically may actually be the more risky approach.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                But like I said, even massive (say multi-terabyte) quantities?

        4. A.P. Veening

          Transfering large amounts of confidential data (to USA)

          In that case I would resort to IPoAC from Canada or Mexico as a secure transport method. Just be prepared to resend in case of package loss.

        5. arctic_haze Silver badge

          What if your job transfer large amounts of confidential data from one country to another

          You should become a diplomatic courier. The sad joke is that foreign spies have no problem sending their laptops through the border. They use diplomatic mail.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Some countries are not completely Geneva-compliant. When someone thought about Julian Assange being allowed out as a diplomatic courier, I pointed out that the UK Law as written includes the ability for the UK government to deny a courier application as last say.

            1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

              True, but the discussion is here veering towards state actors, and they could indeed use the diplomatic channels with gay abandon.

              As for Assange™, I believe that ploy failed because he had to be first accepted as a courier, and that didn't fly (and thus neither did he) for obvious reasons. Ditto for ideas of making him a diplomat.

              Speaking of which, he's been miraculously quiet of late. Is that because he still hasn't got his Internet back, or are Trump and Brexit absorbing all the publicity oxygen?

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Don't forget Brexit. Together with the other two, they're hogging all the media time.

      2. DaLo

        How do you know they don't. There might not have been any commercial secrets of significant classification on there. Maybe he just didn't like the intimidation and the fact that they wanted to go through his private stuff without a warrant. They may also have planted anything they wanted in there once they got access.

        He might also just not wanted random stabbed to be rummaging through his holiday snaps, sms, emails etc. Perfectly understandable if you ask me. Why is it any business at all of some random dude to be rummaging through you personal data?

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          You raise an excellent point. It's far less difficult to infiltrate the tsa and plant a nasty on someone's laptop than it is to break into some of the networks I work on.

          Many of the rules I have to abide by are set by US regulators with *very* sharp teeth, could I threaten tsa with them? Nah, I'd probably never see the light of day again.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Don't threaten TSA, just report the more obnoxious ones to the IRS (anonymously).

            AC as I don't want problems with those [CENSORED] from TSA.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        Just take throw-away devices. If CBP unlock the device and remove it from your presence, you can never trust the device again for connecting to a private network or accessing any non-public information.

        A friend of mine was given advice from authorities on travelling to China: use a burner phone and burner laptop and drop them in the trash at the Chinese airport on the way back home. I would say, the same applies for travelling to the USA these days.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          I'd like to see the company willing to pay for a burner LAPTOP to be tossed in the trash for anyone who isn't a high level executive...

          1. big_D Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Cheap Chromebooks? But here we generally have a handfull of old laptops kicking around waiting to be taken to the recycling center.

            Re-install Windows, deep erase the free space and put essential software for the trip on it. Then the CBP/TSA can take care of recycling it for us.

            1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
              Stop

              Software on the laptop? Surely for this level of paranoia you'd be running remote apps of some form. You don't want your private data to touch the storage of the device, even as temp files.

              1. big_D Silver badge

                I was thinking TeamViewer, VPN and Co.

          2. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Cheap laptop is a lot less than a business class flight.

            Or the first night in a hotel at that level.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Cheap laptop is a lot less than a business class flight.

              But have companies' accountants ever thought that way? Every expense gets considered, and you have to justify the small things a lot more than the large things. When they are logical enough to do that, and incidentally remove the cheap laptop from their depreciation process, I'll be very surprised.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "'d like to see the company willing to pay for a burner LAPTOP to be tossed in the trash for anyone who isn't a high level executive"

            If they can't afford the laptop how can they afford the risk of connecting it back to the corporate network?

            1. Archtech Silver badge

              Funny you should ask that...

              "If they can't afford the laptop how can they afford the risk of connecting it back to the corporate network?"

              And yet how many would?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Funny you should ask that...

                > And yet how many would?

                I think I know of one.

                At a former employer, the anti-virus policy was for all computers to be scanned for viruses on *Fridays*---*before* people took them home... and let their kids surf the Internet all weekend.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: Funny you should ask that...

                  So what happened if a laptop got taken home on a Thursday because something came up and the one responsible is chummy with the brass?

        2. LucreLout Silver badge

          A friend of mine was given advice from authorities on travelling to China: use a burner phone and burner laptop and drop them in the trash at the Chinese airport on the way back home.

          I went to China with an ex-gf. If the rumours of cameras in westerner zoned hotels are true, they presumably have some excellent footage of my knobbing some lass that isn't my wife (hadn't met her yet). I'd rather that not hit the internet where my kids can see it. Thus, I'm possibly blackmailable. If the state want to compromise you or your equipment, they'll always find a way.

          Put another way, if they can't, then you could find yourself 'removed from your position' by some means such that they can "work with" your replacement. Taking basic security measures is fine, but I'm not sure of the wisdom of being uncompromisable.... It might not end well. (Dr Kelly, for instance)

          1. big_D Silver badge

            The photojournalist Eric Durchschmied was caught in Russia "back in the day" with a young female in his room. No hidden cameras, the door was flung open at the right "moment" and somebody took a flash photograph of him and a young lady who picked him up in the department store.

            If they were hoping to blackmail him, they were disappointed, he just looked at them, smiled and asked if he could have a copy for his wife's solicitor, as he was getting divorced. They never contacted him again.

            (from his autobiography "Don't shoot the Yanqui!")

            1. Archtech Silver badge

              Ah, the good old "Duke of Wellington" strategy

              "Publish and be damned!"

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Ah, the good old "Duke of Wellington" strategy

                ""Publish and be damned!""

                Be careful. What if they counter that the girl is actually 15? There aren't a lot of places in the west that are forgiving of those who exploit "child prostitution".

                1. A.P. Veening

                  Re: Ah, the good old "Duke of Wellington" strategy

                  What if they counter that the girl is actually 15?

                  First of all, let them prove it. Secondly, somebody just might get extradited for prostituting minors (very nice and easy, he will be invited as a witness).

                  1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                    Re: Ah, the good old "Duke of Wellington" strategy

                    They don't have to in this day and age. The scandal alone would seriously mar one's reputation. Proof is irrelevant if a hostile state is involved: they can fabricate anything they wish, and because it's a hostile state, they can protect themselves with their own sovereignty.

            2. Lee D Silver badge

              I have to say that's the only sensible response to blackmail.

              X knows you did Y and can tell anyone at any time.

              X threatens to tell everyone.

              Unless you do something for X that's costly to you.

              There's no way you can trust X, so effectively that information is already in the public domain for all you know, therefore you're better off just saying "OK, go for it... by the way, my lawyer is interested in your threat of blackmail and how you legally obtained that information".

              I think the same about muggings, car jackings etc. "your money or your life?". What kind of deal is that? You're already threatening to kill me, therefore I have to assume you're going to do that to remove any witness anyway, therefore why should I assist you in finding valuables which may well contribute to you repeating this incident, valuables which you are otherwise suggesting you wouldn't be able to get any other way if I *don't* co-operate (which in itself suggests you're not actually willing to kill me, but whatever) --Throws wallet/car key down sewer---

              Now neither of us have it. And if you were going to kill me anyway, you still will. And if you weren't, then you still won't.

              Same with hostage negotiation (they've already kidnapped your daughter and threatened to kill her, how much trust can you put in them to release her even if you give all your money to them?) and a lot of other things.

              Sure, it works by intimidation, but even if there was a public-outing on the horizon that you don't necessarily want, why do things their way when there's literally no advantage and they *already* proved they can't be trusted.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                I'm all for the Jack Nicholson approach to blackmail. He has done *everything* so there's literally nothing left to publish that you could threaten him with.

                Now, what do I start with, hmmm..

                :)

              2. Chris G Silver badge

                @Lee D

                Between threats and killing you, there are a lot of things that can be done that might be a fate worse than death, both for you or your nearest and dearest, it just depends on the will of the perp'.

                People make jokes about it but not too far from where I lived as a youth people had their knees nailed to the floor and joints drilled, would you want to spend your life knowing you had condemned a family member to something like that?

                How to respond to threats is not easy.

                1. Lee D Silver badge

                  Do you honestly think that the kind of people who are going to nail knees to the floor - of anyone - are a) at all interested in whether you don't have what they want in the first place, b) going to be letting you walk away to talk about it even if you capitulate, c) not going to those tactics against absolutely anyone else if they thought for a second it would help them?

                  Sorry, but in legal, moral and self-defence terms, you have to treat any credible threat as coming from someone perfectly capable of that action. As such, you have to assume - and it's not a bad assumption - they're going to do it anyway, no matter what you do. The second you give up the info, they're not going to think it's enough and do more. And then they'll do you, because you're not co-operating. And then kill all the witnesses because they're just that type of person.

                  Like you say - if they're already at the "inflicting a fate worse than death" stage, then... what do you think it going to improve about that situation if you co-operate? They'll merely kill you and everyone else anyway.

                  You respond to credible threats as if they are going to be carried out. Whether that's a threat of a fight on a street, a shot through your head, exposure of your naughty photos, a fire in your building, someone trying to gain entrance to your property or anything else. If the threat is credible, you have to assume it's going to happen.

                  The kind of guys who torture your friends/family because you wouldn't co-operate are the exact kind of person who no amount of co-operation will appease and, in fact, even if you get on their good side somehow would just make your life worse as they'd come calling for every little favour under threat of more violence. That's how you end up being the drugs mule... do it or your brother dies... Once you're at that point, literally the only thing you're gaining is a quicker death, which might well be a blessing.

                  You are literally in a no-win situation at that point, you're being threatened with - effectively - murder by your murderer.

                  For that situation, you cannot with any certainty ever improve the situation by capitulating. However, when it comes to muggings, burglaries, dodgy photos, etc. with much less severe outcomes even possible, then you *certainly* can't improve the situation by capitulating, and actually improve your odds by not capitulating.

              3. Archtech Silver badge

                "Your money..."

                Larry Niven once wrote an excellent (non-SF, present day) short story about a guy who is hijacked by a knife-carrying hitch-hiker whom he picks up.

                It's hard to explain without a big spoiler - suffice it to say that the hitch-hiker turns out to have brought a knife to a car fight.

              4. LucreLout Silver badge

                Same with hostage negotiation (they've already kidnapped your daughter and threatened to kill her, how much trust can you put in them to release her even if you give all your money to them?) and a lot of other things.

                Hold a gun to my head and maybe I'll do what you want, maybe I'll tell you to go fuck yourself. Hold a gun to my childrens heads and I'll literally do everything I can for you on the off chance you won't take from me the only thing of real value (hint: it isn't the money).

                Rationality simply wouldn't come into it for me I'm afraid. It's not that I think your logic is wrong, it's just that outright complicity with their demands isn't going to reduce my childrens chances, but resistance just possibly might.

                It's why I'm not so worried about the possible videos from China I mentioned earlier - there are far more effective ways to ensure my compliance than threatening to release a video of a 20 something me up to my nuts in some lass that was way out of my league. Plus, there's a reasonable chance I could claim it was my younger brother anyway :)

                1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

                  I like the younger brother idea. I must make one up, stat.

                  :)

            3. John R. Macdonald

              I remember reading a story about a Westerner, a long time ago (60's?) in Moscow, being hauled in by the KGB who showed him pictures of himself cavorting with a young Russian lady. The guy sorted the pictures into two piles, pointed to one of them and asked the KGB men if he could get extra prints to show to his mates back home. The KGB then concluded he couldn't be blackmailed into working for them.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Hmm, funny they didn't have a counter of saying some of the ladies were actually too young and they could make things very uncomfortable if word of them got to western authorities.

                1. A.P. Veening

                  Hmm, funny they didn't have a counter of saying some of the ladies were actually too young and they could make things very uncomfortable if word of them got to western authorities.

                  At that time, under age ladies were considered to be the problem of the country where it happened and outside of the jurisdiction of the home country of the "gentleman". This only changed within the last twenty years (long overdue, but that is another discussion). And that is even without the minor detail that photographic evidence by the KGB might be believed, but a statement about the young lady being underage most definitely not.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And I'm trying to figure out why Apple travel policy is not to take any devices with you, or make sure they're wiped before coming back through US customs.

        Apple devices actually have a very handy feature for this: profiles, on both iOS and MacOS. Nuke the profile and everything associated with it vanishes (the trick is to leave some personal use on the machine so it doesn't look blank). We have rules for border crossing with at-risk countries (at present that means the US, China and Russia), and the main ones for travelling people are:

        1 - do NOT store confidential information locally, not even encrypted. This information belongs on company servers behind a firewall and a cert protected VPN, and the relevant certs vanish with the profile. Yes, that means you can't work on it while travelling, and that's deliberate.

        2 - delete the company profile/profiles at least 30 minutes before customs. In practice this means before flight descend - get it done. We have a process to re-establish that safely once you're at your hotel.

        3 - any device that is handed to customs is classed as tainted and is barred from company use until reflashed.

        The above also means that we consider device content as non critical - it must be possible to reflash a device at any time if we suspect tampering or other problems.

        Personally I think it's sad we had to implement that for the US, but they've given us no reason to trust them, more the opposite. It's why we don't often go there now, we have some sales people there but that's it, also because it limits our legal exposure.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Agreed, although you are forgetting BIOS/UEFI level malware, which can't be gotten rid of on a re-imaged machine.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Good point. I wonder if anyone has tools for (a) detecting it and (b) rewriting it.

            There was some talk at the CCC in 2014, I'm guessing that'll be a good starting point to dig this out.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              It turns out you should avoid Razer laptops, they suffer from the same flaw that Apple patched last October, but don't seem to be willing to accept the report from the researcher (reported on here today).

              They are sent out with the motherboard still in manufacturing mode, which leaves the UEFI open to re-writing by the OS with no security.

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              I wonder if anyone has tools for (a) detecting it and (b) rewriting it.

              Well, a 4lb lump hammer fairly effectively rewrites the BIOS. Into tiny, teent little pieces..

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "do NOT store confidential information locally, not even encrypted."

          So what happens WHEN (not IF) the task at hand REQUIRES the transfer of large amounts (say terabytes) of confidential information: too much to transfer online without great monetary and/or time costs and too sensitive to not be done by a trusted courier, which will mean the courier MUST go through customs no matter what?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            There was a suggestion for that earlier here.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Replied to it as I don't trust those things to be proof against an x-ray machine.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Ah, but that's the joy of having some rather offbeat friends. This works. We had to check this because we needed to protect ourselves against this and without evidence you can't really ask people to leave their change behind.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge
      5. LucreLout Silver badge

        And I'm trying to figure out why Apple travel policy is not to take any devices with you, or make sure they're wiped before coming back through US customs.

        I'm trying to get my employer to see the benefit of zero mileage equipment for work: I travel, the laptop and phone don't.

        Just have some spare kit in each location so I can forward my phone to the local mobile and login to the laptop on arrival. Its the easiest way to avoid state tampering, for which ever state you're visiting (nation as opposed to united).

    2. Mayday Silver badge
      Stop

      TSA

      The TSA have nothing to do with inbound passenger immigration and customs processing. This is Customs and Border Protection. All the TSA do is scan bags (they also provide Air Marshals and dog handling).

    3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      The constitution doesn't apply within 100 miles of the border:

      https://www.aclu.org/other/constitution-100-mile-border-zone

      1. big_D Silver badge

        So, don't live within 100 miles of the coast, 100 miles from the Canadian or Mexican borders or 100 miles from an inland harbour or airport... What about foreign embassies? There are borders around them as well.

        That pretty much means anybody living in a major city in America isn't covered by the constitution?

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          It doesn't cover airports or embassies, but "100 miles form the coast" still covers about half of California, and all of Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont etc. IIRC it's not that the constitution doesn't apply, but border patrol officers don't think it applies within 100 miles which amounts to exactly the same thing (if you've been locked in a cell with no means of communications, it doesn't matter if it's technically illegal or not, you're still locked in a cell).

          I've never even been to the US and I knew about it, I assumed it was wider knowledge.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            I had also heard about it, but I thought CBP considered airports to be borders as well.

            1. A.P. Veening

              Only international airports, but somehow there is never more than 200 miles between those airports or between those airports and the nearest border, be it a land border or a coastline on international waters.

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          A fortiori

          "That pretty much means anybody living in a major city in America isn't covered by the constitution?"

          Don't go shouting it out aloud, but NOBODY is "covered by the constitution".

          If they allow you any rights, it's because they think it's in their own interests.

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        ...or so CBP claim. I believe that claim will sooner or later be litigated.

        You see, apparently, we all have constitutional rights when being questioned by everyone else *except* CBP. My house (located 27 miles from the Atlantic coast) is secure against unreasonable search and seizure, thanks to the 4th Amendment, unless the folks doing the search and/or seizure claim to be CBP.

        This makes no sense. Someone will eventually get angry enough to involve ACLU and it will most likely go all the way to the Supreme Court, where, God willing, it will get CBP smacked down, hard. They will be told their "rights" to search within 100 miles of the border do not apply to citizens, and that they must have reasonable suspicion and articulate that suspicion to the person being searched.

        1. Cyril

          If CBP enters your home without a warrant you have every right to defend yourself and your property as it is an illegal search and if they are not obeying the law there is no reason to assume they will follow any other laws.

          The can enter private property without a warrant, but they can't enter the place you inhabit.

          The Constitution still applies. They still need a reasonable suspicion to perform a search within that 100 miles. And the 100 miles hasn't been tested in court and will probably fail. They settle cases to keep them from going to trial so they don't lose their 100 mile distance. A reasonable distance would be 10 miles. If they ever threaten to arrest you tell them to go ahead, you always wanted to get a ruling on whether 100 miles is a reasonable distance, because everyone knows it's not.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Also, I think the rule is you have to be within 100 miles *and* have a nexus to the border -- that is, you have to have crossed or otherwise transacted business there.

            This essentially started with immigration and drug enforcement on freeways. It was a lot easier for them to pull over suspicious vehicles and search them along the 5 than to try to make a quick decision at a crowded border checkpoint.

        2. Alistair Silver badge

          "This makes no sense. Someone will eventually get angry enough to involve ACLU and it will most likely go all the way to the Supreme Court, where, God willing, it will get CBP smacked down, hard. They will be told their "rights" to search within 100 miles of the border do not apply to citizens, and that they must have reasonable suspicion and articulate that suspicion to the person being searched the local courts, in order to obtain the same thing all other enforcement agencies require, a legal and valid search warrant."

          FTFY

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          This has already gone to the Supreme Court: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RL31826.pdf

          1. Hazelll

            It remains unconstitutional, just the same.

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            But then Riley v. Califronia threw a spanner into that, and it's a later ruling so carries precedence. There are cases using the Riley precedence to challenge the border exception, and they're ongoing.

      3. veti Silver badge

        Fake news

        That is - not even slightly close to an accurate paraphrase of what your link says. The exemption is limited to the 4th amendment (meaning the whole of the rest of the constitution is not affected), and to "routine searches". And that's at the border. The '100 mile' limit only covers a significantly weaker dilution of the same right.

        Note the wording of the 4th amendment, which prohibits only "unreasonable searches and seizures". Obviously it was always going to be up to the courts to determine what was and wasn't "reasonable", and the courts have taken the view that at a border crossing, some more intrusive than normal measures are "reasonable".

        Which seems pretty logical to me, and probably not that far from what the founders intended.

    4. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Justified

      I'd love to know how these TSA goofs can openly and wantonly violate the Fourth Amendment.

      It's all justified in the cause of stopping the people who, in the words of that intellectual giant Shrub, 'envy our freedoms'.

    5. DropBear Silver badge

      Absent other people's willingness to respect them, any "right" you think you have is only worth your power to enforce it. Now, you and what army...?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd love to know how these TSA goofs can openly and wantonly violate the Fourth Amendment.

      The issue with most border control environments is that they render operators unaccountable, and you end up with a situation that is a magnet for wannabe Hitlers. Let that stew for a few years and the good people will have all left. The US is not unique in this.

      The only question I have is one of possibly warped statistics: do we know there is indeed a peak in investigations for people with an IT security background, or do we only get that impression because those are the only cases that are reported?

  7. RunawayLoop

    Welcome

    "Former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal says he was interrogated for three hours by America's border cops after arriving at San Francisco airport – because he refused to unlock his work laptop and phone."

    Welcome to the club!

  8. Sitaram Chamarty
    Black Helicopters

    didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

    I can't be sure but I believe I read something like that.

    Maybe this is the starting point. Just show the guns for now, and if too many people resist, next time, *use* them. Target people who donate to the Democratic party (as this guy says he did) and who knows, that may dry up funds for the opposition.

    1. NightFox

      Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

      What is it with American law enforcement/border protection etc that whatever role they're fulfilling, it seems obligatory that they're armed and armoured? Intimidation, paranoia or sexual arousal?

      Got some filing to do? Don't forget your 9mm.

      1. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

        Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

        So is the public --- If the border agencies start PISSING OFF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC TOO MUCH (i.e. making us angry!) then I can assure you that some 12 gauge buck shot and .308 round WILL work WONDERS at changing their mind!

        300+ million GUNS in America is NOTHING to laugh at! And the AMERICAN PUBLIC WILL USE THEM even against its own government if it starts becoming tyrannical! And in fact, it is the God Given RIGHT AND DUTY of Americans to THROW OFF the chains of ANY government that interferes excessively in their life's business!

        .

        It's called the 2nd Amendment! USE IT !!!

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

          If you start shooting at border officials, I'm pretty sure that will void your life insurance policy. The treatment you'll get from Homeland Security, the FBI and quite possibly even the US military at that stage would make the TSA seem like a happy memory. You would, literally, be lucky to survive it, and if you did, you'd be looking at 20+ years for terrorism.

          The US government "started" becoming tyrannical a long time ago. The word was frequently used about Bush, about Obama (by different people), and it's been used upthread in this very discussion about Trump. (I imagine it was also used about Clinton, Bush Sr, Reagan, Carter et al in their day, but I didn't get to read so many comments by disgruntled Americans in those days.) And yet this uprising you predict has yet to happen.

          As for "God Given RIGHT AND DUTY" - good luck arguing that. For every Christian who agrees with you, there'll be at least two who don't, and even those who do will all want to draw their own lines for "tyranny" in a different place from yours. And atheists - and by extension, anyone who respects the US constitution - will, of course, have no truck with "God Given" anythings.

          1. A.P. Veening

            Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

            Just replace "God Given" with "Constitution Given" and all patriotic Americans will agree. It is however such a shame they always forget a couple of words from that Second Amendment ("well regulated militia", so not individual citizens).

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

              WRONG! A militia CAN be one person and even was that case back in the founding days they CAN and WERE impromptu (AND the word "regulated" can mean "equipped"). Thus the Heller decision.

        2. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

          And your government has missiles. And helicopter gunships, tanks, stealth bombers, nuclear (or should that be nukular?) weapons, satellite targeting, a professional, well equipped army, weaponised drones.....

          But I'm sure 'some 12 gauge buck shot and .308 round' will soon have em running for the hills.

          Oh, and about that god given right (sorry, God Given RIGHT AND DUTY). Is this the same god who, on the one hand said to obey your masters, while at the same time adding the caveat 'but if you can get your hands on a gun, blow them the fuck away, boys'?

          asking for a friend

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

            "And your government has missiles. And helicopter gunships, tanks, stealth bombers, nuclear (or should that be nukular?) weapons, satellite targeting, a professional, well equipped army, weaponised drones....."

            Which did F-all in Vietnam and Somalia and has only had limited success in Afghanistan and Iraq. Defeating an adversary defending their home turf is a surprisingly difficult thing to do.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Mushroom

              Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

              Defeating an adversary defending their home turf is a surprisingly difficult thing to do.

              Don't forget.

              It's also their home turf.

              And they have the media.

              And the media will tell your neighbours about how you're a nasty "unAmerican terrorist A-rab sympathiser".

              And they won't bother to use their tanks, or missiles, or choppers. They'll sit back and let your neighbours play Hero. Some might even help you get a nice warm feeling... -->

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

                But not ALL the media. All the other side has to do is get THEIR media to say some things about the other side (including squelching their side's First Amendment Freedom of the Press or by saying it's The Man that's harboring kiddie-screwing terrorist creeps ready to go MAD) and now you have a media vs. media war, making it a wash. After incidents like Waco, many Americans tend to have a soft spot for the little man versus The Man.

        3. Kiwi Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: didn't Trump boast "we have the guns" or something like that?

          And in fact, it is the God Given RIGHT AND DUTY of Americans to THROW OFF the chains of ANY government that interferes excessively in their life's business!

          Actually.. God said to pray for your government, for He put them in place to achieve His purposes. (Romans 13:1, also an interesting one in Jeremiah 29:7 that I'd not noticed before now)

          ([Looks at both the US and NZ gubbermints] Yes, sometimes I do question His Wisdom! :) )

  9. James Anderson

    Rich and Priviledged traveler complains at being treated like the rest of us.

    Anyone who travels in and out of the USA regularly will be familiar with the arbitrary, unpleasant and often outright aggressive behaviour of US border control.

    He was just being treated as a normal traveller, and, is peeved his first class ticket did not grant immunity.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Rich and Priviledged traveler complains at being treated like the rest of us.

      Never mind regularly, I've been there four times in total (and one of those was just in transit UK to NZ), and I have thoroughly grim recollections of it from three of those visits.

      Mind you, entering Blighty was also pretty grim, the one time I arrived driving a non-UK-registered car.

      Though I really wouldn't hold "rich and privileged" against him. It takes resources to get noticed, and if he were able to drive some small change, the less-rich[1] and unprivileged could share the benefit.

      [1] Not poor. They wouldn't be flying in the first place.

    2. Olivier2553 Silver badge

      Re: Rich and Priviledged traveler complains at being treated like the rest of us.

      In any civilized country, travelers are treated politely.

      Why one would still travel to the USA if not forced at gun point is beyond me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rich and Priviledged traveler complains at being treated like the rest of us.

        Why one would still travel to the USA if not forced at gun point is beyond me.

        You raise another interesting question, but on the wrong side of the border. Once I get to the US, as a furriner I don't have the right/license to carry so I'm exposed to all the yahoos out there that shoot up schools and shopping malls for fun without any way of protecting myself.

        There should be at least someone selling bulletproof vests at the airport.

        (only half joking)

  10. randon8154

    Could this work to avoid legal action ?

    "Sorry I would like to give you my password but I unfortunately can't remember it"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

      And if they detain you until you "remember", citing the claim you're not officially on American soil and thus not exactly subject to American jurisdiction? And forget about deniability partitions or duress codes; they're well aware of those techniques.

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

        And how do you expect "being aware" of those to help them, when the whole point is deniability...? "Unlock the drive! Good, now unlock the secret drive we can't actually be sure you do have! Oh, you did? Sweet! Now unlock the secret drive on the secret drive! Shut up, we KNOW you must have one! That's it, now the secret drive on the secret drive on the secret drive! Oh, we can do this all day...!"

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

          "And how do you expect "being aware" of those to help them, when the whole point is deniability...?"

          Because they can just deny the denial, and you're up against a State. There is NO such thing as Plausible Deniability in such a scenario. If they don't believe you, you lose, full stop.

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

        You could try telling them that it would require a 2fa device that was travelling separately

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

          Don't just tell them. Actually do this. Also, make sure that the 2FA device is sent before your flight, so they can't intercept it as part of your detention. Something like "my wife is carrying it" just means they'll go and nab her as well.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

          You could try telling them that it would require a 2fa device that was travelling separately

          You're assuming that they will know what that is, though. I'm not so sure. The second problem is that (I think) they can confiscate the device you cannot unlock until you show up with the 2FA access key.

          As I said elsewhere, a lot of power and an absence of accountability creates its own problems.

          1. randon8154

            Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

            So which jurisdiction am I subject ?

            If I only transit, they can do the same ?

            Even though this story is true, it sound unrealistic...

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

              You can't just transit in the United States. ALL points of entry are subject to full entry and exit scrutiny, especially after 9/11 as transiting was a method the hijackers tried to elude scrutiny.

              1. A.P. Veening

                Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

                Security rescreening of international transfer passengers can be done without going through customs, all major and most minor airports outside of the USA have that possibility. However, that same security rescreening wouldn't have caught those 9/11 hijackers either as box cutters were allowed through by US security as well.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

                  But the US doesn't trust those outside sources, thinking they can be bribed or infiltrated. Why do you think they force you to claim your baggage before transiting?

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

      No, that'll just get you "obstructing an investigation" charges thrown in or at least marked as uncooperative. Which means they get to tighten the screws a bit more.

      1. Cyril

        Re: Could this work to avoid legal action ?

        I'll unlock my device when you provide a reasonable suspicion as to why I should.

        Until then, the US courts say you can go fly a kite.

  11. chivo243 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night!

    As an American working and living else where, I have nightmares about traveling home to visit, especially with my son in tow.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night!

      It's never too late to become an ExPat.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night!

        Just avoid the ExParrot stage..

        1. The Central Scrutinizer

          Re: This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night!

          Cleese, I warned you about this!

      2. A.P. Veening

        Re: This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night!

        "It's never too late to become an ExPat."

        With the current taxation of Americans abroad, it makes a lot more sense to just renounce the American citizenship. As an additional benefit (next to greatly reduced tax filing), you will deny that corrupt regime some money.

        1. TWB

          Re: This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night!

          A friend of mine has been trying to renounce his US citizenship for years and it is painfully slow and difficult at least for him. From his POV, the US seem mostly obsessed with TAX. He has lived in the UK all of his life since a baby.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night!

            At least it's not as bad as when Bush was in power - I recall the American embassy in Bern having a backlog of several months. Now they have the temerity to charge you money for it as well.

            As for the US obsession with tax - if the big corporations and high end people don't pay it, it has to come from somewhere else. Which is you.

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night!

            "A friend of mine has been trying to renounce his US citizenship for years and it is painfully slow and difficult at least for him. From his POV, the US seem mostly obsessed with TAX. He has lived in the UK all of his life since a baby."

            Because they don't want rich people taking their money away from the country, the US tends to pile on some serious Exit Taxes on those who do. It was mentioned here a number of years back when a .com rich kid wanted to renounce citizenship and move out but had to face the Exit Tax bill first.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is the thought that wakes me up in the middle of the night!

      "As an American working and living else where, I have nightmares about traveling home to visit, especially with my son in tow."

      Oh, Boris Johnson, I certainly wasn't expecting to see you posting here?!!

  12. SonOfDilbert
    WTF?

    FF versions

    "Gal believes the ordeal was not a random search gone awry, but rather a targeted attempt by the government to send a message."

    The message being: Firefox version numbering -- WTF???

    1. Butler1233

      Re: FF versions

      What's wrong with the version numbering? Or specifically with Firefox's?

      The ridiculous practice of releasing "major" versions every 6 weeks or so is commonplace after the Googs decided it was a good idea with chrome.

      Now version numbers are meaningless on most things. Major numbers = Major breaking changes. Minor = changes which should be backwards compatible if not forwards, anything after that should be tiny bug fixes which don't matter when working between versions.

  13. Richard Parkin

    I bet Apple could remotely change passwords on their devices

    I bet Apple could remotely change passwords on their devices before they cross the border and then restore employees access after.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I bet Apple could remotely change passwords on their devices

      Unfortunately, that could lead to confiscation of the offending device.

      And yes, that sounds as if you're walking into a third world country. Given the current approach to law and order and governing there is indeed less of a difference then there used to be, sadly.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: I bet Apple could remotely change passwords on their devices

      I bet Apple could remotely change passwords on their devices

      Yes - *if* said devices have connectivity.. which isn't guarenteed, especially in the bowels of an International airport.

  14. A.P. Veening

    Pay back

    The correct way to handle this, is to collect as much information possible about those CBP goons including names and report them to the IRS for taking bribes.

    Having said that, I really don't see why anybody would wish to visit the Uninviting States of America.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Pay back

      well , some of the national parks are very pretty

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: Pay back

        Those national parks will still be there when the American economy has gone completely down the drain and they start rolling out the red carpets for the few tourists that dare brave the Uncivilized United States of America.

        1. BigSLitleP

          Re: Pay back

          Considering the rate the Trump is trying to get rid of them, don't count on it

        2. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Pay back

          "Those national parks will still be there when the American economy has gone completely down the drain..."

          Unless Yellowstone blows, burying everything under yards of ash.

          1. A.P. Veening

            Re: Pay back

            Unless Yellowstone blows, burying everything under yards of ash.

            Even if it doesn't, pretty soon everything east of San Andreas will slide into the Atlantic.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Pay back

              east of San Andreas will slide into the Atlantic

              And generate a huge tsunami that'll wipe out pretty much all the western seacoast of Europe. Bye, bye Portugal, Ireland, Brittany, Cornwall and Wales.

              (I remember reading a sci-fi short many, many years ago dealing with a clever scientist that realised that continental US would sink and, once the San Andreas fault started playing up, fled to California.)

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Pay back

                What about the stuff west of the San Andreas, which at least part of (like Washington State) a subduction fault that's long overdue?

  15. PerlyKing
    WTF?

    Civil rights

    Gal has enlisted the help of the ACLU to probe into the brouhaha, and determine whether his civil rights were violated.

    If you need a lawyer (legal team?) to work out whether or not your civil rights have been violated, something is seriously wrong.

    1. don't you hate it when you lose your account
      FAIL

      Re: Civil rights

      Depends how twisted, contradictory and totally uncivil those rights have become

  16. BigSLitleP

    Add my name to the list.....

    of people not traveling to the US any time soon.

  17. RobertLongshaft

    I travel to the US about 3 times a year and despite a queue sometimes to get through security I have absolutely no problems what so ever. I always travel with a work laptop and phone.

    The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      have absolutely no problems what so ever.

      That's nice for you.

      I wonder if maybe it's because you have a nice Anglo-Saxon name, and not something deviant and foreign like "Andreas"?

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        A nice Anglo-Saxon name ...

        Try getting in if you have a name like Muhammad, or (a few years ago) I recall a 6 y/old having huge problems because his name was Saddam Hussein.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A nice Anglo-Saxon name ...

          I once did a rail crossing from Canada to the US. We stopped in the middle of nowhere for a few hours to do the “border formalities”. Three of us had to get of the train: me, because I’m foreign; a US woman who had lost her passport, and a Canadian guy whose name was Muhammad.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

      In my case justifiably so. On the return journey of my first trip to the US, I had a border cop pull a gun on me, after he asked me to lift up my jumper, and he didn't like the random pattern of colours that he saw on my T-Shirt. Seriously, he stepped back and went hands on gun, pulled it out then relaxed and said "Oh, it's just a pattern". I've no idea what he saw, maybe he'd had too much coffee, or maybe the US border guards are so paranoid since 9-11 that they literally seeing things.

      I've never been back because of this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

        I'm sure that very few Reg commentards dislike the USA, as such, very much (although if we have any first nations readers, they might rightfully have somewhat different opinions), but more some of the actions of its government and governmental bodies. It's a country with many beautiful areas and many friendly and welcoming people (although neither are, of course, universal).

        Sadly, some of us live in certain other countries where we don't have an awful lot to be pleased about regarding our own governments, either.

        1. A.P. Veening

          Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

          many friendly and welcoming people

          But somehow they managed to elect Donald Trump as president. That simple fact already tells me more than I wish to know.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

            Most of us didn't want him. Keep in mind we're still running the v0.1 beta of Western democracy.

            1. Archtech Silver badge

              Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

              "Keep in mind we're still running the v0.1 beta of Western democracy".

              That turns out not to be the case.

              Firstly, the beta was run in Athens between about 500 BC and 400 BC. It was quite a thoroughgoing democracy, too.

              Unfortunately the citizens, although ever since admired as the cream of the crop to date, acted like utter imbeciles. They were forever attacking other places in search of power and loot. (Sound familiar at all?) Every second time they got a major bloody nose.

              Eventually they decided to attack Syracuse - probably the best fortified city in the Greek world at the time - and coincidentally the only other major democracy. They got absolutely crushed and wound up under a Spartan governor.

              Secondly, the USA has never been a democracy, or intended to be one. The founders insisted that it was a republic, not a democracy - and that was not just hair-splitting. Most of them believed that only citizens with substantial property (i.e. landowners) should get any power or even the vote.

              Universal suffrage was not permitted until after they had fixed the party mechanism so that no one unsuitable could even become a candidate for election. So the suckers got to march to the polls and choose which of two candidates - both equally acceptable to the owners of the nation - they wanted to be ruled by for the next four years.

              One reason why so many of the political establishment hate Trump is that he completely short-circuited that mechanism (almost certainly it will never happen again).

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

                I thought Athens was the alpha.

                1. A.P. Veening

                  Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

                  Correct. And the Roman Republic was the beta. Some time later there were also the republics of Genua (gamma) and Venice (version 1.0) and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (version 1.0 for federations), which lasted until that Corsican Cut-throat showed up and made his brother king voor a short while.

            2. A.P. Veening

              Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

              Most of us didn't want him.

              I'll admit he lost the popular vote and the only real alternative on the final ballot wasn't much better, even though she won the popular vote. But he should never even have made it to the primaries (and neither should the only real alternative on the final ballot), leave alone the final ballot.

          2. Potemkine! Silver badge

            Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

            But somehow they managed to elect Donald Trump as president

            Only a minority voted for the Orange Agent. Their voting system is deeply flawed and undemocratic but nationalistic views and lack of knowledge of other countries make them believe the opposite...

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

            Well .... Democrats had the Clinton as opponent.

            Sheees. Anyone but not Clinton would have won 6-0, but she had 3 billions bank money so no-one else was suitable.

      2. Cyril

        Re: The anti US sentiment on here is, frankly, ridiculous.

        The pattern on the shirt makes it look like you have something under it to a tired border patrol agent, like an explosive device. I would recommend not wearing that shirt near an airport, or really anywhere with lots of armed police.

        On the plus side, the agent probably had to go change his shorts after that.

    3. The Central Scrutinizer

      With the behaviour of every US government including and since Bush, why are you surprised at the level of anti US sentiment?

      The fear, paranoia and xenophobia just get ratcheted up year after year. One shining example was the Australian kids' books author who was verbally abused at US customs. Her "crime" was allegedly travelling on the "wrong" visa.

      https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-25/mem-fox-detained-at-los-angeles-airport-by-us-officials/8303366

      Just one example of many.

    4. Stork Bronze badge

      I travel on an "acceptable" passport, is sufficiently pigmentally challenged and entered through Miami with family - no problem.

      But when my wife was in biotech the never travelled with anything important on their laptops, even to the US subsidiary. And she was cleared by the defence lot.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. Lee D Silver badge

      That's nice for you.

      However, I've been through the US a few times and security are always a problem.

      I cannot in good faith say that I would want to take even my personal laptop or other devices to the US. For a holiday, it's just not worth the effort/risk of being detained for no good reason. I'd leave the devices at home but, more likely, I'll find a cheaper destination (it is just a holiday after all) that doesn't have such issues.

      The US isn't alone in such things - there are countries where you can't disparage the king, women can't show their hair, can't access the Internet unfiltered, etc. etc. I include all of them in my holiday blacklist. Not because I think anything will happen, but because it's just uncivilised to have such things happening. Some things like that wouldn't affect a holiday, say, but might affect business. Australia's "no outside food" rule - perfectly sensible, enforced quite strictly, but wouldn't affect a holiday.

      But the US believe they can demand things like social media accounts and so on, too. Even if you don't have them.

      Sorry, I work in IT. I'm bound by EU data protection laws. When my employer or lawyer tells you that you can have that information, I'll provide it. But if we have to get that far, for what is someone carrying a laptop through an airport which happens a million times a day, I can't see why I'd risk it. Especially not for a holiday.

      It's not anti-American sentiment. It's anti-stupidity. That the two overlap... draw your own conclusions.

      1. A.P. Veening

        Holiday destinations

        I've been to a country, where you can't disparage the king, many times. That mostly wasn't a problem as the king wasn't only revered as a living deity, but had a (deserved) saintly reputation as well. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about his successor. Despite that "minor inconvenience", it still is an excellent holiday destination.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Australia's "no outside food" rule

        A lot of Island nations[1] have that rule - I know that the UK strictly controls (for biosecurity reasons) what comes in. Currently anyway. Once we become a vassal state of the US, who knows?

        [1] Yes, yes, I know Oz is a continent. But it's also a BIG island..

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Coat

          [1] Yes, yes, I know Oz is a continent. But it's also a BIG island..

          So.... Someone who lives in that nation would be incontinent?

  18. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Non-slurpable software

    Seems to be becoming an offence.

    1. The Central Scrutinizer

      Re: Non-slurpable software

      Just ask the Australian government about that.

      They're doing their best to make it illegal.

  19. Shady
    Joke

    "Gal, now employed by Apple...."

    "You're detaining me wrong..."

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unwarranted border searches

    Don't travel...

    Anyone who is within 100 miles of a US border is open to unwarranted seaches by ICE. That covers all of Florida, Hawaii, and almost half of some border states. The searches are supposed to be limited to incidents where an immigration violation is suspected, but agents have been known to overstep their authority and try to impose police-like authority. They use intimidation and citizens ignorance of the written laws to force compliance.

    1. Gnosis_Carmot

      Re: Unwarranted border searches

      It also covers all states with an ocean front like NC, VA, SC, GA,DE,OR, etc.

  21. Z Ippy

    Banking On Trust

    About 10 years ago, as a lowly bank bod I had to visit a client in the States to review their business and collect some data.

    There was a real fear that our proprietary pricing and quotes would be given to our competitors, especially as we lost a contract shortly after a recent incident where a colleagues laptop was searched at the airport on a previous visit so the next time we were given a 80gb Ipod and a credit card and told to go and buy the same model of laptop from BestBuy or similar when we arrived. We were given the model number etc and our IT department had checked availability.

    The Ipod had a file that we loaded on to the computer and when run we would burn a boot CD-rom and install our employer's system on the new laptop, including their build of Windows, VPN details etc.

    We could then download the data we needed over a VPN.

    When finished we saved our files to the bank via VPN and destroyed the laptop with the HD getting physically shredded by us, with a circular saw and a workmate bench.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Banking On Trust

      When in Rome, do as the Romans do...

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Banking On Trust

        When in Rome, do as the Romans do...

        Cover everything in garum and get confused by hairy Celts wearing trousers?

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Banking On Trust

          No, assume everyone else will cheat, lie, steal and (if all else fails) resort unhesitatingly to deadly violence.

          And get your retaliation in first (if you can).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Banking On Trust

      That's a bank with a seriously l33t security policy, I'd be tempted to bank with them!

      (Assuming that they have a similar security mindset when it comes to customer data as well.)

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: Banking On Trust

        That bank won't accept American customers, thanks to FATCA.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Banking On Trust

          That's arguably even better! ;-)

          (Sorry, Americans…)

    3. Z Ippy

      Re: Banking On Trust

      We left the saw and workbench in the hotel room and used some polythene sheets to protect the furniture, walls, beds, etc.

      The bits of the laptop were left in a petrol (gas) station waste bin found on the way back to the airport. There was nothing bigger than a thimble and most of it was much smaller.

      I recall the laptop cost about USD500 and I wondered about the cost effectiveness of it, but it was insignificant really to the cost of lost or compromised data or even fighting a legal case to get the equipment back.

      I do wonder what the hotel staff thought when they found the workbench and power saw in the hotel room and was amazed when no one knocked on our door whilst the cutting was going on!

      1. John R. Macdonald

        Re: Banking On Trust

        Surely you put the "Do No Disturb" thingy on the door first.

        1. John R. Macdonald

          Re: Banking On Trust

          "Do Not Disturb"

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Banking On Trust

      "There was a real fear that our proprietary pricing and quotes would be given to our competitors"

      One company I work for, has actual evidence of US border control collecting laptop data specifially for spying corporate secrets by planting false data and seeing how competitor in US was using that data within a month.

      Open and shut case, which resulted very fast to "No laptops or phones to US, ever".

      1. A.P. Veening

        Re: Banking On Trust

        which resulted very fast to "No laptops or phones to US, ever".

        Not very smart, just make sure you always give them false data and let them waste money chasing false trails. Even better would be to get some European "friendly" competitors to co-operate. And don't forget to notify the relevant European authorities.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Banking On Trust

          Isn't that risky, though? Might they start charging you with fraud, which is a criminal offense?

  22. gnarlymarley

    my disapproval of the Trump administration and my history of significant campaign contributions to Democratic candidates

    Ummm, need I remind folks, the previous administration was doing this too.

    Of laptops and US border searches

    I think the issue here, is the same problem as BLM. You get a "man with a gun" high school jock who "thinks" they are "amazing". One rouge TSA agent can loop in other TSA agents one time or another.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Irrelevant

      It's a complete red herring to drag party politics into such issues. There has never been any discernible difference between the Republicrats and the Demoblicans when it comes to abusing or ignoring the law, illegal spying and surveillance, or of course extreme and lethal violence.

      In case anyone hasn't yet seen Gore Vidal's definitive statement, here it is again:

      "There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party… and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt – until recently… and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties".

      Julius Nyerere had a witty variant on the theme:

      "The United States is also a one-party state, but with typical American extravagance, they have two of them".

      1. BigSLitleP

        Re: Irrelevant

        I always love listening to Americans talk about their left and right wing parties. To the rest of us looking in, they have a right wing party and a more right wing party.

      2. Orv Silver badge

        Re: Irrelevant

        I lost the ability to smugly conclude there's no difference between the parties once I came out as queer.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      One rouge TSA agent can loop in other TSA agents one time or another.

      Luckily, it's easy to identify the rouge agent by his red face.

    3. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      rouge TSA agent

      Why would they ever want to paint them red?

      Maybe so they can recognise each other and nobody can see them blush when they mess up.

  23. Archtech Silver badge

    Laws can be no better than the men who uphold or flout them

    "Irked by Gal's refusal, it is claimed, the border agents told him he had no constitutional nor any legal protections..."

    Which goes to show, if there were any lingering doubt, that rough angry men with guns and tasers beat a constitution hands down when it comes to an argument. Laws are pretty wimpy too, in a fight.

    Laws and constitutions have no power whatsoever - except the power given to them by human beings who believe in them and think it right to obey them.

    Throw the best constitution in the world, written on the highest-quality parchment, into a cage full of violent apes and it will not discernibly improve their behaviour.

    "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other".

    - John Adams

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Laws can be no better than the men who uphold or flout them

      I think he forgot to complete the line, though.

      "But against a sufficiently-resourced despot, law of any kind is merely ink on a page."

  24. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Facepalm

    They appear to have let one slip through

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47795513

    1. A.P. Veening

      Re: They appear to have let one slip through

      Downvote for not providing a clickable link.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: They appear to have let one slip through

        Sorry. Too lazy. :-)

  25. Gnosis_Carmot

    Only one of his three guesses is correct.

    "My past work on encryption and online privacy is well documented[1], and so is my disapproval of the Trump administration[2] and my history of significant campaign contributions to Democratic candidates[3]," Gal noted. "I wonder whether these CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] programs led to me being targeted."

    Number [1] is what got him.

    Numbers [2] and [3] are pure BS based on his political biases. This sort of thing has been documented as going on pre-Trump.

  26. spold Bronze badge

    Assumed compliance

    I tend to use Veracrypt to create an encrypted volume within a file - this can be named anything so usually I call it a movie file of some sort (kidsholiday or such so they don't accuse you of having pirated movies). All my confidential documents go into that. I don't think the everyday border agent has the skills to work that one out. The passwords are held in keypass so I honestly don't know them other than that they are very long and complex.

    My main problem is that if they ask me for my social media accounts, I'm not sure they will believe me when I say I don't have any accounts (beyond linkedin)! (I'm a privacy guy).

    1. john.w

      Re: Assumed compliance

      Being over 50 helps with the lack of social media activity (ditto linkedin exception but that might have to go soon).

  27. Electronics'R'Us
    Black Helicopters

    Phones and laptops for USA trips

    When I was working for a multinational defence outfit, we got new guidance after the CEO was 'detained' at the border for a few hours.

    Ordinary work laptops not to be taken; a restricted laptop will be issued at the US office you are visiting.

    Erase your emails from your phone before you leave for the USA and likewise prior to leaving the USA (instructions given) and erase your phone history as well (these did not have browsers installed). The email server access was also locked by IT until your physical presence in a secure building was established so a login was impossible at the border.

    If TSA tells you to unlock the devices, comply and let company legal know as soon as possible; do not use your phone (remove the battery if possible) until it has been sanitised by company IT.

    Way to go at building trust.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Phones and laptops for USA trips

      Since you're handling defence, there's the potential for a large amount of data (say in the multi-terabyte range) needing to be transferred between countries. How do you ensure they're not intercepted since it seems you can't rely on a courier?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Phones and laptops for USA trips

        >How do you ensure they're not intercepted since it seems you can't rely on a courier?

        Put a hard drive up your ass and have one very uncomfortable flight.

      2. Electronics'R'Us
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Phones and laptops for USA trips

        There is surprisingly little formal programme data transferred across the internet due to ITAR and EAR (USA) and the Export Control Act (UK).

        The UK legislation is more permissive (the data flow is sometimes known as the transatlantic diode). What is really being protected are internal discussions within those programmes and things like road maps and technology assessments, which are highly confidential.

  28. Robert E A Harvey

    What about Apple?

    This chap is asking the ACLU to look into the legalities involved.

    What about Apple? don't they have a dog in this fight? what about their security?

  29. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    C'mon, seriously?

    I'm no fan of Trump, but if you turn back the time-machine a bit, you'll remember just how hard the Obama administration worked to allow searches of electronic equipment, and FOUGHT FOR the installation of backdoors for law enforcement / FBI. There are plenty of electronic 4th amendment cases from 2009 to 2016 involving the Obama government.

    Since Trump has been in office, the electronic 4th amendment cases have gone way down; perhaps because Trump himself is a victim of the government using illegal spying on his own electronic equipment.

    This person, being an employee of Apple would know this well... if this is who they say. Plus, I'm always a little skeptical, when someone spouts out things and brings Trump into the picture. Seems every time some 'victim' wants injects politics into the mix the story turns out false.

    I'm a USA citizen, and have traveled to and from many countries in the past 15 years--including China, Pakistan, Taiwan and Ukraine (even the dangerous UK, France and The Netherlands--where I lived for 4 years). As a pen tester and InfoSec consultant, I usually travel with at least 2 laptops, a cellphone, and sometimes an iPad; along with various equipment for forensic investigation.

    While going through customs, I've been stopped many times and questioned about my equipment while USA custom officials are going through my baggage.

    NEVER have I been asked to unlock or provide credentials to my phone or computers. REPEAT------NEVER have I been asked to unlock or provide credentials to my phone or computers.

    Don't believe every victim story until there is an independent investigation.

    There have already been quite a few 'fake victims' -- people claiming to have been treated poorly by USA custom officials, and it turns out to be a bunch of BS.

    Especially when they happen to bring up "Trump".

    1. Cyril

      Re: C'mon, seriously?

      You are a Trump fan.

      There was no illegal government spying on Trump.

    2. the Jim bloke Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: C'mon, seriously?

      "NEVER have I been asked to unlock or provide credentials to my phone or computers. REPEAT------NEVER have I been asked to unlock or provide credentials to my phone or computers"

      And I have never died of cancer, so all those other people whinging about how bad cancer is for them must be lying....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: C'mon, seriously?

      "Don't believe every victim story until there is an independent investigation."

      Which will never happen, for obvious reasons.

      So your statement boils down to 'never believe a victim story'.

      That's exactly what Gestapo or Stasi would say. Or any US TLA, not much difference.

  30. elip

    happens all the time to my dad

    ...and has been happening since my family moved to the states in the early 90s. Definitely not a new practice. There are *all* manner of people-of-interest lists which border systems automatically check and in-turn flag passengers if they happen to be on one of them. Every time we return back from our native land, my dad is detained for 4-6 hours while they question him about his friends and family (many of which, at one time or another, have crossed into the US illegally, been arrested on various felony charges, etc.). Giant pain in the ass, but there you go. All of us are regularly (90-95% of the time) put through "extra-screening" each time we fly national *or* international. Thanks Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump, <whichever power-hungry nutbag is next in line>.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: happens all the time to my dad

      What kind of cowardly nutcase downvoted this

  31. JaitcH
    Meh

    Prepare yourself for international travel

    I travel inter-continental too frequently for my liking.

    I have a travel kit with all my mobile technology neutered. The only thing on my equipment are a couple of old movies and some Goon Show recordings.

    Upon arrival I buy a SIM for the cell handset, charge the battery (no SIM frustrated the border goons like crazy). For the laptop I recall my VPN log-ins, then use my company server for work.

    I never cross an international border with anything of value loaded in equipment.

    P.S. I treat most Western countries as police states - as I do China and Russia.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Prepare yourself for international travel

      "I never cross an international border with anything of value loaded in equipment."

      But what if you HAVE TO as part of your job (because it's too much to transfer over Internet or is an actual physical object), and it's too sensitive to transport by any method other than by courier?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Prepare yourself for international travel

        But what if you HAVE TO as part of your job

        Then you're screwed.

        HTH HAND

  32. ForthIsNotDead

    They're not all bad...

    A few years ago my wife (then girlfriend) joined me in Turkey while I was working there for three months. She's from Kazakhstan and entered into Turkey on a tourist visa, which lasts for three months. As it happened, my work ran a little late, so when it was time to leave she was three days over her allowed stay. They told her that she would have to come with them and answer some questions. She immediately burst into floods of tears and the immigration officials were horrified. They took her to a nearby office, allowed me to accompany her, brought her tea, biscuits and cakes and said very apologetically that it was just procedure and she would have to pay a small fine and she'd be out of there. We paid the fine, chatted, complimented them on their lovely country and people, and we were on our way. As compensation, they did not mark her passport as having overstayed, so as not to complicate future visits.

    Nice guys.

    1. cdrcat

      Re: They're not all bad...

      Turkey is not a place I trust

      I stopped on motorbike to take photo on cellphone of huge earthworks near Istanbul.

      Some site manager fit drives up and tells me in broken English to delete said photos or else.

      I didn't doubt the "or else". On finding out that earthworks were part of sone airport work, and some stories about the rediculous "security theatre" around it, I was glad it wasn't anything further...

  33. JoMe

    "As a matter of policy, CBP can’t comment on pending litigation", A cheap cop-out if I ever heard one.

    Here's the bigger picture issue: if this had been an ITAR, SECRET, or TOP SECRET classed device, they would in essence be breaking US law. Never mind the fact that they refused to allow him to legally get the permission to avoid being sued by Apple. I think it's very telling when we see that the request for lawyers got the issue resolved... clearly not a legally sanctioned behavior.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Here's the bigger picture issue: if this had been an ITAR, SECRET, or TOP SECRET classed device, they would in essence be breaking US law."

      And IIRC the holder of said device would be breaking US law by not making arrangements ahead of time to get the device cleared by the government, as the aforesaid have export controls. Anyone in legal possession of such materials would almost certainly also be in possession of some elevated security clearance with the US government which can be verified upon entry. Customs folks worldwide may be jerks, but the last thing they want is to draw the ire of someone over their heads or trigger a response from a more-prestigious part of the same government.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He got to be CTO ...

    "He wasn't expecting a problem, since the Hungarian-born techie is now an American citizen...”

    ... with that level of naivety?!

  35. NonyaDB

    Back when I was a GS-2210 for the U.S. Gov and traveling a *lot* overseas for the wars, going through customs in the U.S. was cake.

    "Sir, what's the nature of your trip?"

    [show blue passport]

    "Government work."

    "What kind of government work?"

    [show military ID]

    "The kind you aren't cleared to know about."

    "OK then."

    You show a military ID or brown government passport and TSA tends to STFU and let you go on about your way.

    I remember the really old days when we traveled with TWO blue passports - one for Israel and one for the Arab states so they wouldn't know you've been to Israel via transfer in Frankfurt.

    Man, talk about racking up the frequent-flyer miles!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "You show a military ID or brown government passport and TSA tends to STFU and let you go on about your way."

      Because the Department of Defense (aka the Military) is one of the few bureaus the TSA does NOT want to cross.

    2. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

      if you're doing Information technology Management GS 2210 starting at $60K to $95K US a year, then you're doing all right, and if you're Denver/Aurora/Boulder in Colorado area, which I suspect you are (were?), then you probably were Air Force related IT so yeah the TSA would NOT want to get on THEIR bad side!

      And since you went to Israel a lot, I suspect you ALSO worked on those giant underground SigInt centres buried deep in the lower Negev desert!

      .

  36. SNAFUology

    "interested in his time at Firefox-maker Mozilla, and of his recent trip to Canada. "

    "past work on encryption and online privacy"

    It's not reported how this knowledge came about - knowledge of Mozilla and encryption

    Perhaps it was something like:~ Who do you work for ? [oh I work for APPLE and worked for Mozilla before that.]

    Gal says he was interrogated for three hours by America's border cops after arriving at San Francisco airport – because he refused to unlock his work laptop and phone.

    It could be that the flagging occurred because he was returning from Canada - perhaps they were trying to bust a kiddie-porn ring or something,

    and had a heads up on travelers that week.

  37. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    "A spokesperson for the border patrol told us: "As a matter of policy, CBP can’t comment on pending litigation."

    Lock him in a room for 3 hours and then see if he feels like commenting.

  38. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    America

    Off limits until Trump is ditched.

  39. Rajesh Kanungo

    I wonder what Tim Cook has to say

    Most employees have company confidential information, sometimes information belonging to OTHER companies. For example, it could be financial, technical, security, personnel, etc. related. So AAPL will not only be concerned about the border cops access to AAPL information but also be very concerned if someone else's information is compromised.

    I wonder how lawyers handle this; they carry information covered by attorney-client privilege. Are there cases of the border cops attacking lawyers?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I wonder what Tim Cook has to say

      Since lawyers tend to be jurisdiction-bound (they can only practice where their license was issued, and these tend to be by state), client information probably doesn't travel with them.

      But now that you mention it, what about doctors, whose medical data may be pertinent across international lines BUT can be bound by HIPAA (or similar doctor/patient confidentiality)? Also, the volume of data could be significant enough that an Internet transfer may not be practical.

  40. john.w

    Being Radioactive did not cause me a problem.

    Arrived in Miami and had agent walking around arrivals air side approaching people and looking at his belt. As he walked towards me the device he had started beeping in that well known Gaussian distribution. He asked if I had had a medical procedure recently and I told him about the bone scan I had had three weeks ago and he seemed happy and wander off. Pointing out my wife and three kids helped.

  41. Symon Silver badge
    Big Brother

    DO NOT plead the fifth.

    Some U.S. courts have used the fact that you have invoked your right not to incriminate yourself as evidence that you're guilty.

    https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/1035228/united-states-v-gillman-long/

    In interaction with US law enforcement, you need to say four words, and four words only. "I want a lawyer". Don't be rude, but do not sound tentative or equivocal. Make sure they understand that you actually want a lawyer. This invokes your 6th amendment rights which, so far, haven't been challenged in the courts.

    Here's a book to read if you don't believe me.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Have-Right-Remain-Innocent/dp/1503933393

  42. Hazelll

    It's "The Patriot Act"

    Yeah, it's part of the "Patriot Act" and it's not new! There have been a handful of senators and congress people fighting to be rid of it, but each time it's been due to "sunset" (end), the vast majority of office holders inevitably vote to maintain their unconstitutional powers and re-instate it. There just aren't enough Americans paying attention to their loss of rights, and too many prefer to focus their political attention only on fashionable issues which make them feel better about themselves.

  43. lighthabit

    set your phone to backup automatically to the cloud. Set your phone to auto factory reset after certain number of failed password attempts. Spooks ask for password, hand them the phone and say "have fun".

    I'm in America, and there's a lot of us who don't like what's going on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're forgetting about the US government finding a way to crack the iPhone of someone who was dead. They'll take your flippant reply as a sign of defiance, hold you, and ask the FBI or such to step in.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't go there.

    I have never visited the good ol' boys of the USA and, after reading this malarkey, I have absolutely no intention of setting foot in the country. This all sounds a retaliatory set-up - probably engineered by Trump and/or his cronies to get back at this guy's perfectly legitimate criticisms. Disgusting treatment. Good luck with the complaint. Some compensation (change that.......SUBSTANTIAL compensation) should be the order of the day, unless any presiding judge is in Trump's pocket.

  45. emsp36

    Oddly enough..Same experience, same airport.

    As I was coming back from New Zealand, I was stopped, unlawfully searched and was told they found marijuana in my bag. I know for a fact I wasn't carrying anything, and they wouldn't let me see the tests, call a lawyer, call my friend to let her know I wasn't coming on the next flight etc. They made it clear that I had absolutely no rights, and there was no due process. I couldn't see a judge.... anyone. They confirmed that I would stay there until I coughed up $5000.

    I held out for a little over 4 hours, before I was told I could pay $500 to leave if I "admitted guilt". I signed a form (that I wasn't allowed to take a photo of or consult my lawyer about). And I was set free after a $500 tab.

    I followed up with US border and customs agents the day after and requested a copy of the form I signed, to no avail. I attempted to follow up, again, with no avail.

    And i'm now perpetually flagged by US border and customs. Anytime I come back in the country I go through extra security. Thanks San Fran.

  46. CAGirly5000

    Just the Latest from CBP

    Recent article form NBC San Diego reported leaked CBP documents that showed them keeping a list of Lawyers, Journalists, and immigrants advocates with pictures and their information. These are people who often crossed the border and were being stopped when coming back into the US and held for additional questions.

    So, hearing this is happening to those in IT Privacy is not surprising. Know your rights.

    https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Source-Leaked-Documents-Show-the-US-Government-Tracking-Journalists-and-Advocates-Through-a-Secret-Database-506783231.html

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