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Re: Password Protecting GPG Keys

Norbert Preining <preining@logic.at> writes:

> So while I consider it great that the judges in the case you mentioned
> have decided in this way, I don't think this is the *norm* and we -
> those travelling to the US - have to be aware of that.

Well, the norm is that your electronics aren't searched at all.  Because,
well, border patrol has limited resources, lots of people travel into the
US, and mostly no one cares.  My general impression is also that people
who fly into the US are much less likely to run into this sort of thing
than people who drive into the US because of the official purpose of these
checks (see below).

You're worrying about the exception cases, not the norms, already.

The 100 mile thing is real:


and stopping people to ask about citizenship has been accepted by the
courts, although I don't believe it's gone very high on appeal.  Stopping
for general searches has *not*, so far as I know, been upheld by the
courts, but of course that doesn't stop the border patrol from doing it
anyway and confiscating equipment and making people fight to get it back.

However, they're primarily doing sweeps for drugs, high-value illegal
imports, and undocumented immigrants, not for anything related to
cryptographic keys.  You'd have to get doubly unlucky: run afoul of one of
these fairly rare random stops, and then get an individual officer who
decides to harass you about something unrelated to the actual purpose of
the stops.  This sort of thing does happen, but it's not common.

Most of this is part of the US political fight over immigration, and is
mostly confined to some specific border states and is targeted at people
who look Hispanic.  (I'm not saying this to defend it, just quantifying
the risk.)

For nearly all visitors to the US, this 100 mile border zone thing is a
theoretical risk, not something that's at all likely to happen to you
personally.  That's not to say that it hasn't happened, or that it's
right, just that it is not a norm.

I certainly respect your decision to not travel to the US because of the
way that the US treats visitors.  I am embarassed about the things that my
country does in this area, and vote against the people who support this
nonsense every opportunity I get.  I would welcome this sort of boycott in
a way that would bring sufficient pain to embarass parts of the US
government into changing these policies, although I don't know if there's
any way to get there from here.  However, I do think that the actual risk
level for a professional visitor such as yourself is not horribly high.
(It is, however, non-zero, and I do think the US is substantially worse
than many other countries in this regard.)

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)               <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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