Mobile computers? "A terrorist tool" - same goes for phones...

by Guy J Kewney | posted on 07 February 2008

People ask me why I've stopped flying to the US. I tell them: "Because the business of entering and leaving that country has become too unpleasant. And because it's not much better trying to get in and out of the UK." And they ask for an example of what I mean. So this week, I have this example:

According to Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post,

Nabila Mango, a therapist and a U.S. citizen who has lived in the country since 1965, had just flown in from Jordan last December when, she said, she was detained at customs and her cellphone was taken from her purse. Her daughter, waiting outside San Francisco International Airport, tried repeatedly to call her during the hour and a half she was questioned. But after her phone was returned, Mango saw that records of her daughter's calls had been erased.
It gets worse, according to Nakashima:
Maria Udy, a marketing executive with a global travel management firm in Bethesda, said her company laptop was seized by a federal agent as she was flying from Dulles International Airport to London in December 2006. Udy, a British citizen, said the agent told her he had "a security concern" with her. "I was basically given the option of handing over my laptop or not getting on that flight," she said.

The report goes on to explain that the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Asian Law Caucus, two civil liberties groups in San Francisco, "plan to file a lawsuit to force the government to disclose its policies on border searches, including which rules govern the seizing and copying of the contents of electronic devices."

Of course, there's an easy way to get around this. Use virtual access, and stop carrying data around with you. Leave your data on your home PC, and log into it via some remote access protocol (RDP under Windows works well enough) from a standard Internet cafe.

Technorati tags:   
Travel widens the broad? - You can discuss this article on our discussion board.