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Re: [Debian-NYC] Debconf 10 - NYC bid [video]

On Tue, Aug 19, 2008 at 10:11:36PM -0500, Thomas Krichel wrote:
>   Who can blame them? Do you really want to travel to NYC
>   to give up your laptop for good?
> http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/08/01/0958242

Please don't consider Slashdot to be an accurate source of information.
It's true CBP can search stuff at the border, including seizing it to
perform a more thorough search if their efforts at the border are
stymied due to encryption or uncooperative passengers. This is true in
most countries around the world and is not different in the US.

If you cooperate with the laptop search, including showing them what's
inside any encrypted areas they happen to notice and ask you about,
there's no reason for them to seize it, nor would they. This is no
different than any country's right to search inside locked containers
you carry across their borders. These searches are also much rarer than
sensational news stories would have you believe; aside from people on
watchlists, it's a low-probability random thing, and it's certainly
never happened to me (admittedly a white male native-born US citizen).
As for non-laptop CBP searches, it's happened to me on maybe one
occasion. Most customs officers are not computer experts, so are
unlikely to notice anything you make hard to find for non-tech-savvy
people (e.g. requiring obscure terminal commands to see).

Further, CBP policy does actually involve returning seized equipment
once they've determined they don't have probable cause of something
illegal, and the US's strong freedom of speech guarantees means that the
set of things you can bring into the country is much, much larger than
many places even in Europe. (E.g., don't try entering Germany with a
copy of Mein Kampf either in hardcopy or electronic form.)

All of the above said, we do already have an offer from someone to host
a machine on a fiber-to-the-home connection with lots of hard drive
space and an account for each attendee, so that those who are concerned
can upload anything they want to hide from CBP in advance of the trip
and download it during DebCamp/DebConf, so that it's not on their laptop
when they cross the border. TSA doesn't search laptops, so no issue on
the way out, at least with regard to the US government.

- Jimmy Kaplowitz

P.S. - Here's CBP's page about laptop searches, which includes a link
to their official policy document on this topic:
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