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February 10, 2013 11:39 PM   Subscribe

Wired: DHS Watchdog OKs ‘Suspicionless’ Seizure of Electronic Devices Along Border [Source policy document]. Americans may find it useful to note that the definition of 'border' includes up to 100 miles from the nearest actual international border line.
posted by jaduncan (83 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, this "border" definition encompasses most of my state.

The country should be on fire over this bullshit.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:46 PM on February 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


On dunkadunc's note, some added PSA links:

Encrypting an Android phone.

Encrypting an iPhone.
posted by jaduncan at 11:49 PM on February 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Map of what falls within 100 miles of the border.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:49 PM on February 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


Encrypting your phone when the government is doing this is a band aid for a bullet wound.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:50 PM on February 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yup. The hole most of the time on Android/iOS is that the DHS can also just get the information from Google/Apple at the server end.
posted by jaduncan at 11:54 PM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Assuming you use cloud storage. My voice mail is stored remotely (I wipe it periodically but am under no illusions about my provider's retention policy -- wiping it probably just means that I'm the only one who can't access it) but I don't use their cloud for anything else, irrespective of the phone maker's continual enticements to do so.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:59 PM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looking at the map, I like how lake Michigan is suddenly not US territory for purposes of snatching away your laptop or cellphone.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:01 AM on February 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


First off: Seconding that everyone should encrypt.

Second: You should not have to encrypt your data because the USG should not be doing this in the first place. Encrypting your data is a band-aid. What needs to happen is for the government to be forced to stop.

When will people start talking regime change?
posted by dunkadunc at 12:03 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


What happens if you give them a password that starts the quietly_delete_sensitive_shit process?
posted by pracowity at 12:04 AM on February 11, 2013


The password deletes bits of the copied drive image and they get pissy.
posted by jaduncan at 12:06 AM on February 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


This was on Slashdot on the weekend, and there is all kinds of into in there about how, no, that 100 Mile thing has not been tested at law.

(or, if you like, 100 miles of any airport also counts.)
posted by Mezentian at 12:06 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


but I don't use the cloud for anything else, irrespective of the phone maker's continual enticements to do so.

Not so sure you don't still have a big cloud footprint.

Email - seizable from ISP/interim servers/Carnivore;
Phone records - stored at the telco if you like it or not;
Phone location records - ditto;
SMS in and out - ditto;
IMEI numbers of phones/IDs of people you hang around with - ditto.

I guess they still can't read the purely local docs, but even knowing the IMEI number of the phone is going to give access to an awful lot of logs server side. DHS have a huge range of data sources now. IMHO half the value of suspicionless search is that you can tie IMEIs to actual IDs.

I'm going to shut up now though, I'm not trying to run my own thread.
posted by jaduncan at 12:07 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Android's system encryption (which doesn't encrypt the sd card, if your phone has one) is dm-crypt, which is quite secure. The code is open for analysis if you like. It can be no more secure than the quality of your unlock phrase, of course. The usual other attacks still apply, so don't use your development device, etc.
posted by introp at 12:13 AM on February 11, 2013


jaduncan -- you're right, I overstated that. Most (but not quite all) of what you say is correct in my case.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:23 AM on February 11, 2013


When will people start talking regime change?

Do you mean talking "conquest by a foreign power, revolution, coup d'état or reconstruction following the failure of a state"? Guns and bunkers? All the wrong sort dream of that option.

The biggest problem, as Brian Eno pointed out recently, is that the best people don't go in for politics. "We expect other people to do it for us, and grumble when they get it wrong."
posted by pracowity at 12:26 AM on February 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


You can have regime change without guns and bunkers. You just need enough people to put their bodies in the way.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:28 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


You just need enough people to put their bodies in the way.

But American Idol is on!
posted by Mezentian at 12:43 AM on February 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Keep your guns! it's your rights! Scream, shout, stamp your feet - but no one's gonna take my guns!
posted by From Bklyn at 12:53 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huhn, the border includes the border with ocean. Take that, coastal elites!
posted by benito.strauss at 12:53 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please nobody tell the US that space is a border, and less than 100 miles up...
posted by DreamerFi at 12:59 AM on February 11, 2013 [23 favorites]


dunkadunc: you are of course irate at these Republican measures put in place by Bush. Regime change eh? Just like Vietnam and Cuba? Or is your 'regime change' advocating bringing back the likes of Bush so that they can invent newer means of repression just like this BS?
posted by epo at 1:51 AM on February 11, 2013


When will people start talking regime change?

2014 for all of the House and 1/3 of the Senate. 2016 for all of it.

Funny I seem to recall much rejoicing here on Metafilter when the current regime was re-elected.
posted by three blind mice at 1:55 AM on February 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


From Bklyn: They don't want your guns, they want your data devices.

I'm in one of those states that qualifies for 100% border... I'm wondering if this would allow them to come search my home PC without a warrant. This question will have to wait until the morning for me...
posted by Nauip at 2:27 AM on February 11, 2013


"I'm wondering if this would allow them to come search my home PC without a warrant."

No, no it doesn't.

So before we all break out in revolutionary fever against the reptilians, this article is written so as to be intentionally misleading liberal clickbait. There are two separate issues here that have yet to be connected outside of the imaginations of ACLU lawyers and marketing department. First there is the issue of Customs and Border Protection establishing checkpoints not physically on the exact border between the US and Mexico or the US and Canada, where this is an inherently pretty straightforwardly reasonable thing to do depending on the nature of the border in specific places, but has edged towards what could be reasonably considered abuse in a number of cases (Such as checking cars on the highway to San Diego from Mexico or international Greyhound buses well within the border with Canada) that the ACLU is currently litigating. So far there has been a clear line between searching people traveling internationally and people not, so unless you live in a truck that travels on an international highway or the TARDIS or something, your home computer is totally safe from anything actually real connected to any of this.

Second is the issue of Customs and Border Protection searching the electronics of not meaningfully suspicious international travelers coming into the United States which, while really unfriendly and transparently bad policy, is pretty straightforwardly constitutional. As that memo correctly notes, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the federal government has an interest in being able to randomly search both citizens and non-citizens traveling internationally into the United States that is not affected by the Fourth Amendment. This really isn't meaningfully different from the right to search through your bag or documents carried in it that Customs has always had, and as the memo also correctly notes, Customs is still bound to the protection of other civil rights such as equal protection under the law.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:41 AM on February 11, 2013 [17 favorites]


"Please nobody tell the US that space is a border, and less than 100 miles up..."

I hate to break it to you but Customs already searches people without warrants, or even reasonable suspicion, as far inside the country as Denver, at the International Airport. Besides, I should really hope that common sense rather than the fourth amendment would get in the way of Customs searching interplanetary travelers.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:49 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


"What happens if you give them a password that starts the quietly_delete_sensitive_shit process?"

Legally, I imagine it'd be roughly the same as what would happen if you showed up at the border with an elaborate spy briefcase that squirted acid into a bag filled with a bunch of documents if you opened it without the correct whatever, which is to say who the fuck knows; but regardless I should hope Customs would at least have a whole bunch of questions for you to make sure you were just making some kind of point.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:00 AM on February 11, 2013


benito.strauss: Huhn, the border includes the border with ocean. Take that, coastal elites!
Were you of the opinion that our coastline was somehow not a border? Because, you know, none of our national enemies own boats...
posted by IAmBroom at 3:00 AM on February 11, 2013


I bet they were pissing themselves laughing over the term "Civil Liberties Impact Assessment"
posted by mattoxic at 3:07 AM on February 11, 2013


So are you asserting that they shouldn't be assessing the impacts of the things they do or just asserting that you aren't familiar with the linguistic quirks of public sector writing?
posted by Blasdelb at 3:14 AM on February 11, 2013


The 100-mile constitution-free zone extending from the border has been argued in the Supreme Court - and the constitution was upheld.

So while the DHS, border patrol et al might like to claim the right to warrant and probable cause free searches near the borders, that doesn't mean they're actually legal. Crossing the border itself, or its equivalent i.e. at an international airport air border, is a different matter of course, and they need neither warrant or cause to search your belongings.

Which is why you never cross the US border with any documents, photos, passwords or other sensitive material you wouldn't want posted on the DHS break room bulletin board; and that applies just as much to electronic versions. Refuse to provide the login password and they can refuse you entry (assuming you're not american) and/or confiscate your stuff. So sensible measures for crossing the US border include:

1) clean your laptop/kindle/ipad before travel, only keep 'disposable' content on it you are prepared to lose and/or have searched. Suitable if travelling temporarily for pleasure.

2) If you must have access to sensitive material while in the US, such as for business, use encrypted cloud/corporate storage, and only access it once well past the border, i.e. leave it on the company servers and get it via vpn, or use a service that doesn't have backdoor keys to your files, such as sugarsync, or use your own separate encryption, like truecrypt.

3) If you absolutely have to carry personal material through the border, back it up encrypted to an external hard drive, and remove it from the laptop. Accept it may be confiscated whether you provide the password or not. If you suspect the drive may be impounded indefinitely at the border (for example, because you've previously pissed off the DHS by being awkward, reporting on them, being a security reseacher, or look too muslim), send another copy on a drive via parcel mail, and/or leave a copy with a friend for later internet based retrieval.

These recommendations don't only apply to the US; pretty much all countries have similar rules on the books, at borders you can generally be searched at will, and admittance for non-citizens is a privilege not a right under most circumstances. Though the US is far more likely to actually use the rules, and does so in ways that frankly are making many tourists and business people cross the US off their lists of places to visit.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:16 AM on February 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


I bet they were pissing themselves laughing over the term "Civil Liberties Impact Assessment"

And kicking themselves at the fact they failed to establish the "Civil Liberties Impact Tribunal"
posted by Mezentian at 3:16 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not so sure you don't still have a big cloud footprint.

The best way I know to not have a big cloud footprint is either to just not use the services, or to be your own cloud.

This is quite difficult, but if you want your data always available, and you don't want it in the hands of third parties, then hosting it yourself is pretty much the only option. Most ISPs will give you static addresses with a business-class connection, and if you have two working static IP addresses, that's enough to run a domain of your own. But even if you're stuck with just one dynamic IP, registration services like DynDNS will make it pretty easy to find your home server, where you've got the data you care about. You can't really run email from a dynamic IP, but you can still host most other services, including filesharing.

If you keep all the data you care about inside your home, then the government will have to work harder to surveil you. They can't just send a National Security Letter and get all your data without a warrant; to enter your home, they have to talk to a judge and present actual evidence that you are engaged in wrongdoing. And they need to physically enter your house, or compromise your remote gadgets. If they don't do one or the other, the only real surveillance option is breaking the encryption you're using to talk to your home servers, which is believed to be infeasible.

Note that any email you send, unless you use end-to-end encryption (where the recipient decrypts the message) will end up on a government server somewhere, because email is not typically encrypted during transit. But your other files should be fairly safe.

I find that for what I typically do when I'm on the road, email and a file server is all I really need. I use SSL IMAP for email, and then OpenVPN to my home network when I need files. You can share files from pretty much anything... any desktop computer, be it Linux, Mac, or Windows, can easily do it. A Raspberry Pi would be perfectly capable of running a fileserver. (probably Samba.) OpenVPN is free encryption software that comes on many routers these days, so setting up an encrypted link back to your home network isn't that hard anymore. Setting up your own email, unfortunately, is way, way harder, and in fact is probably the big hurdle to being a self-cloud.

Typically, about the best bandwidth you can get outbound from your house is 4 or 5 megabits. This isn't very fast, but it's enough for most purposes. As long as you don't need to transfer gigs and gigs of data, it should be fine.

Again, make no mistake, this is hard. The OpenVPN to your home server usually isn't that tough, but setting up email definitely is. Once you know how, building a new email server is as easy as breathing, but the learning curve for all the technical terms, and then the necessary software to actually IMPLEMENT the technical terms you just learned, is terribly intimidating.

You will need to truly understand the technology you're using to do this successfully and safely. And there's a very real risk that you may do it poorly, leaving yourself open to hacking by bad guys, which would probably not happen if you paid professionals to do it for you. But if you really don't want to be surveilled, running your own cloud, and being largely self-sufficient, is the best option I know to limit the ability of anyone to snoop on what you're doing. Even this isn't perfect, but it means they have to come after YOU specifically, and you will have a reasonable chance of knowing that they're trying to. Even if they hit your ISP with a National Security Letter, there's almost nothing they can give up.

When you're your own cloud, it takes a warrant. This is the minimum standard that should apply all the time, to all online communication, but it doesn't. The only way I know to regain the basic level of privacy and security that you should have as a birthright is to become enough of an IT person to be able to host your own services, and to keep your data inside the four walls of your home.

I find it appalling that this is necessary, but it's the only method I know. Any professional providing ongoing services to you can be co-opted with a National Security Letter, so you have to do it yourself. You can get help getting everything implemented, but you have to host the server(s) yourself.
posted by Malor at 3:38 AM on February 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


You can have regime change without guns and bunkers. You just need enough people to put their bodies in the way.


Or you could, like, vote. If you can't get bodies into the election booth, I don't see how you're going to get them in front of tanks.
posted by empath at 3:47 AM on February 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Hen-house just fine, reports Fox.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:50 AM on February 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Vote?
I don't know too much about American's minor parties, but in Australia the ticket looks like this:
Labor (Centre-right)
Liberal (right)
Greens (populist Left)
Crackpot Christians (right)
Crazy racist Christians (more right than right)
Crazy racist Christians with Irish Catholic Roots (even further right)
God Hates Fags Christians (just to the left of Ghengis Khan)
The Guy Who Sells Green Left Weekly (socialist)
And a bunch of well meaning up minimal policy candidates (Pirate Bay, Sex Party, No Pokies, Pot Smokers For Jesus).

At the risk of straying too far from the topic, the mechanics of politics are too far from real change.
posted by Mezentian at 3:56 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Strangely, empath, America has a huge culture of reverence for soldiers, and comparatively little for voting. I suspect it would be easier to get people stepping up to die than vote if it came to it. After all, when you die under a tank, you die a hero. When you vote, all you get is a sticker, and you might even get your pay docked.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:20 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


At the risk of straying too far from the topic, the mechanics of politics are too far from real change.

You can't have a popular revolt if your agenda isn't popular. If you can't win in the voting booth, you can't win on the streets.
posted by empath at 4:28 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"You can't have a popular revolt if your agenda isn't popular. If you can't win in the voting booth, you can't win on the streets."

In the chest of every rebel beats the heart of a tyrant.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:32 AM on February 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


In the chest of every rebel beats the heart of a tyrant.

Yeah, objecting to tyranny is tyrannical!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:51 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just to be clear, if the US government has you and your encrypted device they can keep you until you provide the password. Though I don't really image any of the discussion here is by people who really are keeping money laundering records from the IRS, but rather the 10% or so of Americans who think privacy valuable are over represented here
posted by shothotbot at 4:53 AM on February 11, 2013


Legally, I imagine it'd be roughly the same as what would happen if you showed up at the border with an elaborate spy briefcase that squirted acid into a bag filled with a bunch of documents if you opened it without the correct whatever, which is to say who the fuck knows

If you gave a code that started the destruct sequence? Probably a charge for destruction of evidence.
posted by jaduncan at 5:01 AM on February 11, 2013


So, we're right back to deniable encryption, again, eh?
posted by mikelieman at 5:07 AM on February 11, 2013


"Yeah, this "border" definition encompasses most of my state.

The country should be on fire over this bullshit.
"
That border definition exists mostly in the imaginations of people with a financial interest in the country 'being on fire over this', which should probably be your first clue.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:08 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


So far there has been a clear line between searching people traveling internationally and people not, so unless you live in a truck that travels on an international highway or the TARDIS or something, your home computer is totally safe from anything actually real connected to any of this.

This is flat-out wrong. I have personally been on a domestic train (the Lake Shore Limited) which was boarded by ICE Border Patrol agents using the border exemption as their basis for the search, who asked everyone who didn't look "American" enough for citizenship or immigration documents, and yanked the guy in the seat ahead of me off the train for god knows what kind of interrogation and detention when he took longer to find them in his backpack than they wanted to wait (about 10 seconds, maybe). The Lake Shore Limited does not make any international stops at any point. This was not a freak thing, these boardings are routine now.

(The the Border Patrol flack in that article claims that these requests for proof of citizenship are "voluntary," but the ones that I witnessed certainly were not: "Sir, you'll get off this train or we'll take you off this train" were the Border Patrol guy's exact words as they hauled off the passenger in front of me for being Indian.)
posted by enn at 5:40 AM on February 11, 2013 [13 favorites]


So, the Founders were having a good joke when they made the 4th Amendment, eh? 100 miles of border, in terms of 1776, meant the vast majority of the country was in that zone. Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, etc., all in the 100 mile zone.

I know the gun freaks are all about the 2nd Amendment. But really, the 4th Amendment is all about your politics. Your papers are about what you write, about the thoughts and feelings you express in writing. So to have the government examine such thoughts, is to allow the government to know your position and trouble you for what they find objectionable.

This is, IMO, vastly more fundamental than about keeping a gun.

But I'm really preaching to the choir here, for the most part, I'm fairly sure.
posted by Goofyy at 5:45 AM on February 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Bruce Schneier: Protecting Your Privacy at International Borders
posted by shothotbot at 6:22 AM on February 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


As an immigrant to the United States and a frequent border crosser I find this all very funny. Every single border guard I have encountered has had the right to ruin my life pretty much at whim. I've had to explain the comp sci sorting algorithms written in my school notebooks at border crossings. They went through my notebooks page by page for about 100 pages.

So welcome to my life. It's a bitter pill that the way you let authorities treat people without political power or rights eventually gets extended to you and you realize that you too lack power and thus rights.
posted by srboisvert at 6:39 AM on February 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


In the chest of every rebel beats the heart of a tyrant.

If you want a picture of me reading your comment, imagine a hand making the jerk off motion, forever.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:09 AM on February 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


That ACLU map is a bit inaccurate, from what I see. I'm pretty sure all of Lake Michigan is inside US territory, so marking the international border (and the 100-mile zone) as following the lake down through Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana doesn't seem correct.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:13 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The actual confiscation of the physical electronic device is what really bothers me about this, not so much the "oh no! my precious private data" angle. As has been pointed out upthread, unless you're using your phone as nothing but a glorified notepad, all information which can be gleaned from it is pretty much available from other sources. The policy of seizure of private property without warrant or suspicion, though, now there's something unprecedentedly terrible and with far too much potential for profiling.
posted by tehloki at 7:20 AM on February 11, 2013


Coming soon...mandatory polygraphs. Thought crime is double-plus ungood.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:22 AM on February 11, 2013


"Looking at the map, I like how lake Michigan is suddenly not US territory for purposes of snatching away your laptop or cellphone."

This is the ACLU eager to give up American sovereignty of the body of water, not the US government.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:28 AM on February 11, 2013


From Bklyn: They don't want your guns, they want your data devices.
...
posted by Nauip at 2:27 AM on February 11 [+] [!]


I was being too cute. What kept going through my head as the latest round of pry-from-my-dead-hands-ery was going on was that the real expression of tyranny has very very little to do with anything remediable with firearms. I mean, all these people going on about their guns but christ, the sum of other indignities and violations the Gov. (many Govs, for that matter) perpetrate are way, way higher. So keeping guns is just so, 18th century at this point.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:29 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Note to self, avoid Brownsville, El Paso, and anything else close to the border. Although I am probably pale enough and sound upper middle class enough that they wouldn't mess with me, unless it was to steal my devices. Which, after reading enough stories about expensive electronics that went missing under the TSA, does not sound out of the question.
posted by immlass at 7:36 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


or international Greyhound buses well within the border with Canada

Try domestic regional bus service from Boston to Bangor, ME, stopped and boarded in Waterville, ME (which is actually pretty far from a US border). This happened fairly regularly for a year back in the early-2000s. One CBP agent would stand at the front watching everyone while the other walked up the aisle and asked each passenger, "Are you a US citizen?" If you had an American accent and "looked American", that was it; I think there is or was some weirdness about technically they can only ask for identification from non-citizens that far from the border. If you said you weren't a citizen or otherwise looked suspicious, they'd ask for your documents. The one or two folks who couldn't produce valid passport and visa information were pulled off the bus, and... who knows, not the rest of us on the bus, because the bus moved on. While all this was going on, the driver would open up the luggage compartments under the bus and another border guard would bring a dog around to sniff everyone's bags.

Customs is still bound to the protection of other civil rights such as equal protection under the law.

While technically true, the problem is that at the time, they have complete power and you have little to no recourse if they do anything inappropriate. For example, CBP has the right to indefinitely detain people suspected of violating immigration law, provided in retrospect they actually were guilty. But there are no timeliness or due process requirements, so thousands of [mainly hispanic] US citizens have been illegally detained in immigration jails or even illegally deported. There's a reason why the US Constitution spends so much time on the actual processes to insure rights are upheld, and relatively little time laying out what civil rights we have.
posted by eviemath at 8:13 AM on February 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


empath: Or you could, like, vote.

Honestly, that's a pretty asinine suggestion.

The political system is broken when it comes to leashing in the security state: The worst abuses have been happening under a Democratic civil rights scholar, FFS. Good luck getting anything meaningful about the security state into a national platform, either.

I voted for the opposition candidate, but she was ridiculed in the media for having the audacity to run- when she was mentioned at all.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:18 AM on February 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


How is voting an asinine suggestion? If voter behavior changed, political decisions would change. Voter behavior would change if voter attitudes changed. You're arguing that people should riot based on the government's behavior. They're not now, so your suggested course of action requires changes in voter attitudes as well.

The fact is that most of the voting public doesn't even know this is going on.
posted by demiurge at 8:56 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the chest of every rebel beats the heart of a tyrant.

If you want a picture of me reading your comment, imagine a hand making the jerk off motion, forever.


There is something pretty hilarious about using Orwell, of all people, to mock the notion that "in the chest of every rebel beats the heart of a tyrant." Or perhaps you never bothered to read Animal Farm?

I do have to say I love the notion that this particular news story is proof that we're living under "tyranny." Yes, it sure is the hallmark of "tyrannical" states that their border enforcement agencies have to submit their policies to a special "Civil Rights and Civil Liberties" office and that the findings of that office are subject to judicial review. It is, further, a sure sign of "tyranny" that if the courts decide that ICE has overstepped its bounds they will immediately revise their practice to conform to the court's orders.

Please, people, try to get just the teensiest ounce of perspective on these issues, will you? You're talking about a fairly minor and fairly technical disagreement about the exact boundaries of customs and immigration officers' constitutional powers (and a very, very tiny number of actual searches; fantasies of ICE officers going door to door rifling through everybody's electronic data within 100 miles of a border notwithstanding). All this talk of manning the barricades and hurling our bodies in front of the tyrannical regime's jackbooted forces is exactly as hilariously overblown as its mirror image on right wing sites obsessed with Obama's mythical plots to go door to door taking away our guns.
posted by yoink at 9:34 AM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


shothotbot: "Just to be clear, if the US government has you and your encrypted device they can keep you until you provide the password. "

Sure, but that involves getting a judge to cooperate not just because they want to.

Goofyy: "So, the Founders were having a good joke when they made the 4th Amendment, eh? 100 miles of border, in terms of 1776, meant the vast majority of the country was in that zone. Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Richmond, etc., all in the 100 mile zone. "

I think it means the entirety of the original thirteen if you also measure from the western border of those areas (which seems reasonable considering the modern map measures from the Canadian/Mexican border).

srboisvert: "So welcome to my life. It's a bitter pill that the way you let authorities treat people without political power or rights eventually gets extended to you and you realize that you too lack power and thus rights."

Railing against the over reaching 100 mile buffer zone protects everyone who doesn't look American enough from harassment in that zone. The domestic bus/train stories posted above are exactly the sort of thing that shouldn't be happening. I've experienced the same sort of thing on a highway in the Arizona. CBP agents set up road block and were just waving through everyone who looked American (including yours truly who very much isn't). I'm guessing if I had been visiting from Mexico I wouldn't have been so lucky. And it must suck donkey balls for a first gen immigrant from those areas. You'd defacto be forced to have your passport on you at all times like a Soviet citizen with their "papers". It blows me away that this procedure remains legal even if it is constitutional.
posted by Mitheral at 9:39 AM on February 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


Voink: you seem confused between being "in" a tyranny, and heading toward one at a fast pace. So while things circle the drain, you say "no problem!". I say, the time to resist was before the mofos pulled the damn plug.
posted by Goofyy at 9:45 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Even if this is frothy at the mouth far-left-of-center politicking, I'm all for it if it means pulling the political theme away from the rapid expansion of executive powers into areas where it really doesn't need to be. ICE and CBP searches are synonymous with outdated, isolationist, and frankly unscientific and ahistorical policies. The War on Drugs and the paranoia about losing minimum-wage, abusive jobs/racism should not be the philosophical backing to extending the legality of abusive practices. Basic American history should illuminate the failings of Prohibition and the rise of organized crime, and that isolationist, anti-immigrant fervor in the past have led to an eroding economy and countless human rights abuses.

Our politics are a joke. What counts as liberal these days would have been ridiculed as lipstick or yuppiefied progressivism pre-Moral Majority. These days, we're inundated with Tea Party candidates whose absurd policies push us far damn far to the right on domestic social policies that we forget that we used to care about Nixon like he were the executive-power expanding antichrist. Are we supposed to feel somehow blessed when our moderate-right leaning, UC educated president agrees with his cackling, faux-aristocratic opponent on foreign policy and immigration and austerity measures?

Actually progressive politics these days are replaced with banal neoliberalism. The only friend I have my age who cares about civil liberties is a Ron Paul fanatic. Everyone else, liberal or not, seems much more interested in discussing the intricacies of binge drinking and how well the Microsoft Surface is doing. It isn't so much apathy and disinterest as it is toeing the line in the most superficial, self-satisfied way possible. Oh god, you signed up to vote in a national election but fuck all if they knew anything about your local representatives, about this 'liberal linkbait' cum gradual erosion of civil liberties, about drone strikes, about actual policies and their legal ramifications. As far as they're concerned, so long as they laugh watch Louis CK do standup and laugh at Amy Poehler as she fawns over Joe Biden they can count themselves among the well-educated caring liberals of America. Gobama! Go Prez Bartlett! Woop woop woop!

To advocate that we shouldn't listen to the ACLU because they're just plain too frothy at the mouth is to cloister yourself away from the kind of rhetoric and power that the far right holds. Modern political dialectic is moderate technocratic liberalism against the irrational and the emotive. It's the lizard brain against Friedman's self-interested rational agent. You knock on the far-left as if somehow remaining objective and neutral in the midst of all of this means that you have some kind of true political power even though you should know that is absolutely not how popular discourse works.
posted by dubusadus at 10:27 AM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't suggest "not voting" or "not caring about politics" as ways of life, but seriously, Learned Helplessness is an actual thing that all brains are susceptible to. When nothing you do matters, you simply stop trying to do anything. You just sit there and take the electric shocks as they come, over and over, while the stress hormones eat away like acid at your health and wellbeing. And you take whatever distraction, be it television or drugs or drinking or endless debauchery, that helps you get through another horrible day.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:34 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


You have to convince all these people who have learned that voting doesn't matter that it actually does, and you have to do it believably. That's the row you have to hoe. You don't get to beat on the scared dog because it is too scared to get up and just pisses itself instead. You have to teach it with kindness that life is worth living.

Who is doing that for the voters? Who is convincing them that it matters? Who is NOT beating them and telling them to move you fucking mutt? Tell me!
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:37 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, as for Lake Michigan and the border: It is International Waters, as are all the Great Lakes, being as they are contiguously navigable.
posted by Goofyy at 10:44 AM on February 11, 2013


When nothing you do matters, you simply stop trying to do anything. You just sit there and take the electric shocks as they come, over and over, while the stress hormones eat away like acid at your health and wellbeing. And you take whatever distraction, be it television or drugs or drinking or endless debauchery, that helps you get through another horrible day.

I think you must work at the same place I do.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:49 AM on February 11, 2013


I can't understand why we're discussing voting.

The reason that voting is not an effective solution here is that both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are united on this issue, and of course any time anyone at Metafilter suggests voting for a third party they are drowned in a wave of derision.

The usual point we get to in talking about voting is that we must support local candidates so at some indeterminate point in the future they'll be important and get our point across. Of course, that would be so far in the future that the horse won't only have exited the barn, it will long since have entered the food supply...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:55 AM on February 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Next time I travel I'm just gonna fill all my hard drives with hundreds of thousands of pictures of my dick.
posted by cmoj at 11:01 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad: That ACLU map is a bit inaccurate, from what I see.

I'm ignorant of the water system up there, but I believe they're counting the border as being any body of water that can be reached from the ocean. If you can set out from, say, Spain, anywhere that you could potentially make landfall is the "border".

Over on the West Coast, in California, there's a big bulge inward around the San Francisco Bay, because an immigrant could potentially bring him or herself ashore anywhere in it. I presume the Great Lakes have the same thing going on.
posted by Malor at 11:39 AM on February 11, 2013


Malor: The term of art is "International Waters". I only remember because, when I was a kid, our speed boat had to have special registration and equipment to go on the Great Lakes, instead of staying on the ordinary lakes. It seemed rather silly on an outboard.
posted by Goofyy at 11:53 AM on February 11, 2013


I wish I was surprised at the amount of unconditional love that the Michael Savage brand of ACLU-demonizing is getting here. But stereotypes about Metafilter are overstated at best. Mostly for rhetorical effect by the same people who peddle this sort of thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:32 PM on February 11, 2013


I wish I was surprised at the amount of unconditional love that the Michael Savage brand of ACLU-demonizing is getting here.

The claim that the ACLU is being "demonized" in this thread has precisely the same truth-value as the claim that the DHS's assertion of the right to undertake "suspicionless searches" of electronic devices at US borders is proof that we are living in a "tyranny."

I'm all for the ACLU bringing suit to learn more about the reasoning behind this decision. I'm all for the ACLU's bringing suit on behalf of David House. It's a good thing that the ACLU is on the job trying to ensure that the boundaries of government power are precisely defined by the courts and that those definitions are properly implemented in government policy. The ACLU is a terrific institution that has done the country a great service.

What is absurd is the ridiculous notion that this minor skirmish in the endless struggle between government agencies who, naturally, want the freest possible exercise of their powers and citizens who, naturally, want to see those powers clarified and circumscribed within definite limits gets ginned up as some stunning milestone on the road to TYRANNY (Dun-dun-DUNNNNNNN!!!).

Electronic media present the courts with novel problems and novel situations. It's unsurprising that this is an area with relatively little controlling legislation and relatively ill-defined policies. Cases like this one will help, incrementally, clarify these issues. It's mildly interesting for legal nerds and policy wonks, sure. What it isn't is a heroic struggle between the Thought Police and a plucky band of freedom loving rebels who are about to initiate The Revolution because they're mad as hell and they just can't take it any more.

If the ACLU gets absolutely everything it wants the practical difference in what happens at the nation's borders will be minimal. Everyone the government really wants to search will still be searched--there'll just be slightly more paperwork involved and a little more explicit judicial oversight; which is a Good Thing. And everyone in this thread who is desperately planning ways to encrypt their hard-drives will remain of absolutely no interest to the government and, sadly, be offered no opportunity to heroically resist giving their passwords to the jackbooted thugs that goosestep through their feverish imaginations.
posted by yoink at 12:54 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The claim that the ACLU is being "demonized" in this thread has precisely the same truth-value [snip]

Uh, yeah.

This is the ACLU eager to give up American sovereignty of the body of water.

the imaginations of people with a financial interest in the country 'being on fire over this'

There's plenty more but it's too nauseating to pursue any further.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:08 PM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


You have to convince all these people who have learned that voting doesn't matter that it actually does, and you have to do it believably.

I believe it matters. I believe my votes have been counted, and in that respect mattered, even though my candidates didn't always win. I believe voting - and voting for who I actually want to be in office, regardless of their chances of winning - matters, and I do not regard any of my votes to be "thrown away". So in these respects, I'm completely with you. However, I cannot convince people that voting alone matters in the sense of creating positive change, because I do not believe it. I believe that although the winning presidential candidate purports to respect the importance of things like social welfare, civil rights, and the plight of the many without jobs, family, housing, and medical care he is either unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

In any case, I do not believe that my vote will change the character of our country, except for the one voice I have some degree of control over - mine. I believe that this contributes, even in a small way, to a more compassionate, caring, and respectful discourse. I believe that I make a difference, no matter how small.

I do not believe the bullshit that passes for politics. I do not believe the degree to which our civil rights have been stripped away. I do not believe that this is the "Free-est nation in the world". I believe we have lost the most important aspects of our national character, our legal protections and our respect for the importance of our own rights. I believe that most people in this country have been fooled into believing that these things are for their own good, or for the good of the country. I believe that both parties (in general) are rife with corruption and cronyism and do not work for the benefit of the people they serve, but for themselves. I do not believe how many people are willing to defend these actions because they have been so pumped full of fear, so driven to destitution, so inundated with propaganda, and left so hopeless that there is any way to fix it.

I don't believe it, but I look around me and I cannot help but accept it - not because it's OK, but because it is there. I will keep voting, I will keep speaking out, I will keep informed, and I will keep praying that somehow we will find a way to make it right. Until then, what else is there to do? Oh, yes, I will keep trying to find ways that people can live, as freely as they can, supporting each other and seeking happiness and contentment for so long as we can on this planet Earth, despite whatever government we might be living under. Politically, though, "What else is there to do?" is a question I don't really have an answer for.

I was going to put a bunch of stuff down at the bottom here along the lines of "Fuck the DHS", but then I started reading MLK's 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance Speech. Instead I'll say: the behavior of our government is wrong and must be changed. We cannot and should not, as citizens of a free country, endure this sort of police-state fear-mongering. Anyway, this is what he said that got me re-thinking:

"I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man's present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid." I still believe that We Shall overcome!"



yoink:
The claim that the ACLU is being "demonized" in this thread has precisely the same truth-value as the claim that the DHS's assertion of the right to undertake "suspicionless searches" of electronic devices at US borders is proof that we are living in a "tyranny."
[...]
If the ACLU gets absolutely everything it wants the practical difference in what happens at the nation's borders will be minimal. Everyone the government really wants to search will still be searched--there'll just be slightly more paperwork involved and a little more explicit judicial oversight; which is a Good Thing.


Whether or not you call it "tyranny", you seem to be arguing that the state of affairs in which "Everyone the government really wants to search will still be searched" is perfectly fine and not in conflict with the 4th amendment. I don't understand.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:34 PM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Slowly, slowly the frog-boiling proceeds apace.

Once again, we can't type our way out of this shit.
posted by Twang at 4:26 PM on February 11, 2013


I saw a post on another service (no way to verify). The party claimed that he and his wife were visiting Charleston, S.C. on their honeymoon anniversary, walking down the street when they were stopped by DHS. The agents demanded the wife's phone, and immediately plugged it into some device. The husband did not have a phone; he was asked why not, and then both were taken "downtown" for interrogation.

True or apocryphal-but-potentially-true, this is a turning-point beyond which lies a place few of us want to live. All technical solutions are nothing but stop-gaps.
posted by Twang at 4:50 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once again, we can't type our way out of this shit.

Tell me where to show up in the state of Maine and I will be there. No puppet shows, no candles.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:03 PM on February 11, 2013


For example, CBP has the right to indefinitely detain people suspected of violating immigration law, provided in retrospect they actually were guilty. But there are no timeliness or due process requirements, so thousands of [mainly hispanic] US citizens have been illegally detained in immigration jails or even illegally deported.

Plus, if they decide to lock you up, the burden's on you to prove your right to be the in the US. Which is a tad difficult if you've effectively been disappeared.

It seems worthing noting that you can complain to CBP anonymously. I'm the child of an immigrant and perhaps a little more paranoid about such things than the average person, but I'm sure as hell not putting my name on a complaint.
posted by hoyland at 6:11 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


True or apocryphal-but-potentially-true, this is a turning-point beyond which lies a place few of us want to live.

That's not a turning point, that's far enough down the road that you can't quite make out just how far back the turning point actually was. If that story is true, and DHS agents are actually randomly stopping people on the street and scanning their cell phones, then we are already fucked.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:13 PM on February 11, 2013


We've been fucked for a good many years. That they're harassing white male middle-class people out in the open shows just how big the tree trunk we're being fucked with is. The US is well past the point of return to a civil democracy. It is already and has been for quite some time an sham democracy with oligarchical kleptocracy underpinnings trending towards an Oz-like (pay no attention to the man behind the TV screen) totalitarianism.

Everything will be fine, citizen, as long as you do your job and vote among the offered choices and follow the nice policeman when he asks you to step out of line for just a moment sir.

Yeah, I'm watching this from the other side of the border in Canuckistan as a naturalized hockey fan and while I still have a blue passport with an eagle on it, truth be told I'm viscerally afraid of going back. As you can tell.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:49 AM on February 12, 2013


such complaining!

it's like you don't even want them to catch perverts and terrorists
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:17 AM on February 16, 2013


The Department Of Homeland Security Stole My Boat
posted by homunculus at 1:44 PM on February 26, 2013


Twang: True or apocryphal-but-potentially-true, this is a turning-point beyond which lies a place few of us want to live.
True or apocryphal is actually rather important. "Apocryphal-but-potentially-true" is a meaningless wiggle phrase: those dirty cops totally could have violated someone in that way, if only they had done so!!!
posted by IAmBroom at 10:40 AM on February 27, 2013


Appeals Court Curbs Border Agents’ Carte Blanche Power to Search Your Gadgets

US Ninth Circuit says forensic laptop searches at the border without suspicion are unconstitional
posted by homunculus at 10:00 AM on March 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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