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Encryption Privacy United States

The Legal Purgatory at the US Border: Detained, Searched, and Interrogated 555

Posted by samzenpus
from the papers-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes "America may be the land of the free, but upon arrival millions of visitors cross a legal purgatory at the U.S. border. It is an international legal phenomenon that is left much to the discretion of host countries. In some cases, this space between offers travelers far fewer rights than some of the least democratic and free countries on Earth. Limited access to legal counsel, unwarranted searches, and questionable rights to free speech to name a few. One of the more controversial — and yet still legally a contested grey area — are the rights travelers have in regards to electronics and device searches."
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The Legal Purgatory at the US Border: Detained, Searched, and Interrogated

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  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday September 01, 2013 @08:42PM (#44734439) Homepage
    Maybe you don't understand how truecrypt works [truecrypt.org]?
  • by gweihir (88907) on Sunday September 01, 2013 @09:47PM (#44734869)

    Indeed. Quite obvious. Thank you. This idea seems to be well beyond Zero__Kelvin however.

    The problem is that not only can they not prove that you have a hidden partition, you cannot prove that you do _not_ have one. The design of hidden partitions in TrueCrypt prevents both very effectively. So if they just assume you have one, because "it is a standard feature of TrueCrypt as everybody knows", you are screwed, unless you can give them the key to that hidden partition. But if you did not give them the keys to both the normal and the hidden partition when they asked for your passwords, you are already screwed, because giving them the key for the hidden partition only when they specifically demand it has you already guilty of deception.

    The concept of hidden partitions has some merit. It specifically keeps your adversary in the dark of whether there actually is something or not, but only if you are willing to withstand considerable pressure, including jail-time and torture. If you are not willing to do that, hidden partitions do more harm than good, because they create a false sense of security.

  • by Sabriel (134364) on Sunday September 01, 2013 @10:10PM (#44734995)

    Um, the GP knows about hidden partitions and plausible deniability. Here, I'll quote: "never mind that they cannot prove you have one and that you may actually not have one in the first place". The GP also knows that, yeah, usually some bored border agent will take one glance at your booting laptop and wave you through with a yawn.

    The GP also knows that if, for whatever reason, you do get flagged for extra attention, and they then realise you've got encryption capable of plausible deniability, that they will not give one iota of a shit about your protestations that you don't use it.

    It's not about how technology works, it's about how people work, and people tend to react badly when they think you're hiding something - regardless of whether you're actually doing so.

    So, yeah, you may eventually leave the interrogation room after the maximum legally-allowed eight hours and fifty nine minutes later (depending on jurisdiction and assuming they haven't found some pretext to "indefinitely detain" you), having missed your flight, your luggage thoroughly ransacked, your every last piece of electronics down to and including the xbox controller confiscated, your name permanently engraved on their hassle lists, your house searched, your neighbours and employers queried and your every phone call tapped for the next two years, but hey, you sure showed them, right?

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Sunday September 01, 2013 @11:22PM (#44735445)

    I've often thought about doing that, using plausible deniability, and making the password for the "safe" partition: GoFuckYourselfYouFascistPig . The first time they ask for the password I would answer "Go Fuck Yourself You Fascist Pig", and after that I would simply ask them if they had problems hearing me the first time. When I got to court and they tried to screw me for failing to reveal the password I could state all innocent like: ... but your honor. I told them! It's GoFuckYourselfYouFascistPig . ;-) Of course, that was back when we had due process :-( [not to mention it is obviously pure fantasy, and not something I would ever actually do ... but I sure wish someone would ]

    You realize that under the Patriot act, you don't necessarily get to go to court. You piss them off all, particularly with something that can be considered antagonistic and hating of America in their eyes and you could have a very nice Carribean vacation at Gitmo.

    Two things to keep in mind. Never joke about hijacking a plane at an airport and don't piss off the border guards. Doing either one can make what you used to consider your worst day ever not seem that bad after all.

  • by aXis100 (690904) on Sunday September 01, 2013 @11:25PM (#44735475)

    At least in Australia, the majority of the strict border security is for a tangible reason - biological quarantine. The Customs officers are not dumb security grunts, but generally polite and intelligent poeple who want to protect our country from a large number of ignorant and selfish travellers.

    We have a regular TV show highlighting some of the more interesting events and the number of poeple who claim "it's not food, it's ingredient" when illegally importing pickled bug larve or something equally ridiculous is just staggering. It's not like we make it difficult to be informed either - there are signs and pamplets in 17 different languages, a questionaire enrey card, and amnesty bins as you arrive.

  • by bakes (87194) on Monday September 02, 2013 @02:00AM (#44736209) Journal

    Neither. It's because the US insists on these procedures for flights that will enter US airspace.

    I was in Doha earlier this year, and I walked past the departure gate for a flight going to the US - looong line of people, shoes off, waiting for the full-scan etc. On my flight to the UK there was the walk-through metal detector and x-ray scan of my carry-on bag, but my shoes stayed on and nobody asked to pat me down.

  • by _merlin (160982) on Monday September 02, 2013 @02:21AM (#44736339) Homepage Journal
    • It isn't happening on anywhere near the same scale elsewhere. The US has well and truly taken it to the next level. Saying it happens everywhere might make you feel better, but it doesn't make it true.
    • Didn't your parents teach you that, "He's doing it too!" isn't a valid excuse. If I shot and killed someone and tried to use the excuse that other people do it too, should I expect people to let me off?
    • Slashdot is a US site with a large US audience. US issues matter to the readers. Also, as Michael Jackson said, you have to start with the man in the mirror. Change starts at home.
    • If you want to criticise others, take the moral high ground, be seen as a human rights leader, and call yourself the land of the free, you need to do more than talk. You need to actually put these principles into practice. Right now you look like phenomenal hypocrites.
  • by rossz (67331) <ogre&geekbiker,net> on Monday September 02, 2013 @02:26AM (#44736371) Homepage Journal

    Nope. They can ask, but they have no legal authority without a warrant. People ARE challenging their inspection stops and refusing to cooperate.

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