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    Aia 1,977   10 Years Ago

    Very disappointing, and sad, to read rhetoric like such: "The U.S. government has argued in a pending court case that its authority to protect the country's border extends to looking at information stored in electronic devices such as laptops without any suspicion of a crime. In border searches, it regards … Read More

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I think examining the contents of a computer or other storage device by customs, without any reasonable basis or suspicion, is wrong. Do they have any right or reason to rifle through your dayplanner, look at the contents of your wallet? No. Data stored on the computer is no different.

Border control is there to account for the people and the objects, not the thoughts that cross over.

Val

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and there's the crux, Val.
Is content on a harddisk made up of objects or thoughts...

Had this person had a stack of prints of child porn in his suitcase (which are routinely searched) it would have been objects and noone would object to it being used as evidence against him.
But now that it's on his computer harddisk it's suddenly thoughts and can't be used.

I must say I'm of two minds here. IF they have the right to open your suitcase and look through it without a warrant they should have the same right with harddisks.
BUT I don't think they should have the right to open my suitcase without suspicion that there's something illegal in there and are able to get a warrant using the same rules needed to get a warrant to search my home.

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My basic assumption is that there is no such thing as privacy when it comes to government action. This has been broadened by the fear of terrorism. You want some privacy, encrypt your files.

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and there's the crux, Val.
Is content on a harddisk made up of objects or thoughts...

Had this person had a stack of prints of child porn in his suitcase (which are routinely searched) it would have been objects and noone would object to it being used as evidence against him.
But now that it's on his computer harddisk it's suddenly thoughts and can't be used.

I must say I'm of two minds here. IF they have the right to open your suitcase and look through it without a warrant they should have the same right with harddisks.
BUT I don't think they should have the right to open my suitcase without suspicion that there's something illegal in there and are able to get a warrant using the same rules needed to get a warrant to search my home.

I think the concept of "in plain sight" that police (in the USA anyway) have to abide by should/must be applied to border/airline screening as well. That is, if in the course of normal, routine actions an illegal substance/object is seen it is legal for the authority to proceed with criminal action. Doper leaves his bag of weed sitting on passenger seat of car, gets pulled over for running a light - cop sees it, busted. If the weed was in the glove box and he exhibited no signs of intoxication or recent use (no smell), cop has no legal right to search the glove box.

By your example, if fellow traveling through a border or airline checkpoint has a stack of pictures readily visible when the bag is opened for routine check - busted. Two counts - the porn, and being terminally stupid. The next dirty old man has his porn stashed in some folder in his computer's filesystem. Not obvious, not in plain sight, and customs/TSA has no business prying around in the computer once they see that it turns on and does not explode.

My 3 cents.

Val

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I don't have anything to hide..

It is that kind of mentality what makes us "sheep" ready for the butchery.

I do have things to hide. That's why I wear clothing.
What if I want to hide pictures of my family? Bank statements? An important project that I want to patent? My score of minesweeper?.
Yeah, yeah, do not take anything of these in a laptop through the airport. But do we need to be
so controlled and inconvenienced just so security authorities can show us the great job they're doing catching all those laptops full with pictures with porn, if any.
Since when porn if vital for the security of the border. You don't think you'll find a plot to blow a nuclear plant in one of those machine, don't you?
What would be next, confiscate all the "thumb drives"? Cdrom? Portable MP3 players? Books? Writing material? napkins?

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I cannot believe for a moment that any person who has a morality that includes respect for the right to an individual to live as he or she sees fit as long as that individual is not harming others, and, said person has a strong sense of ethical behavior can think for even a second that there is really an argument here.

There can be no question whatsoever that prying into someones laptop without just cause is a terrible invasion of privacy. A laptop is an extension of your thoughts, your private dealings, your mail, hell, your home. Invasion is invasion, and trying to dress it up and parade it as anything else tells me with absolute certainty that you are part of the problem we face in the world today.

That problem is the dilution of rational thought where morality and individual rights are concerned. It entails the blurring of the line between the rights of the individual vs the supposed rights of the many. If only that were true. But in fact, it's just a form of hysteria. If there was a chance in hell that this sort of behavior would far outweigh the damage it does, then there might be a reason to discuss it as though it could be "for the good of mankind".. Historically this simply is not the case. Never does the ends justifiy the means when you are damaging many innocent individuals in the hopes of saving other individuals at some future time.

Society in general has lost its moral compass. We allow laws to be passed which damage the many for a false sense of security. In reality, it's all just leading to a police state.

By arguing these types of issues as though they have merit one has already bought in to the lie. They have no merit. Prying in to my laptop is a gross injustice, unless you have legitimate, documented reason to believe that doing so will yield proof of a threat to you or society at large.

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It is that kind of mentality what makes us "sheep" ready for the butchery.

I do have things to hide. That's why I wear clothing.
What if I want to hide pictures of my family? Bank statements? An important project that I want to patent? My score of minesweeper?.
Yeah, yeah, do not take anything of these in a laptop through the airport. But do we need to be
so controlled and inconvenienced just so security authorities can show us the great job they're doing catching all those laptops full with pictures with porn, if any.
Since when porn if vital for the security of the border. You don't think you'll find a plot to blow a nuclear plant in one of those machine, don't you?
What would be next, confiscate all the "thumb drives"? Cdrom? Portable MP3 players? Books? Writing material? napkins?

As soon as they can get the technology in place it will be your thoughts.

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Well if the government have sufficient grounds to look through your Laptop/Computer they can do that. But if it is just random checks on people, don't they have to warn the public that there will be random checks on peoples data in their computer?
If they have a reason for doing it then i would vote Yes, but if it just at random with no warning that they are going to check your Laptop/Computer then i would have to say No.

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Well if the government have sufficient grounds to look through your Laptop/Computer they can do that. ...
If they have a reason for doing it then i would vote Yes, ....

How easy is to loose perspective. How fast we are willing to give away freedom and privacy.

Customs used to mean taxes or duties at the border. Either if you came by ship, plane or walking. In order to collect those duties related to certain items, of course, some checking points were created, with the authority to search randomly among your traveling possessions, in order to verify that the right tax was collected.
For obvious reasons some items were confiscated for the immediate danger, e.g. ( guns, bazookas, grenades, and such ) and also for the illegality[1] of it, e.g. ( not buying from proper places subject to taxes; not obtaining proper permissions by paying on it ).

Drugs came along and the powers of customs officers were increased to confiscate these too and arrest the carrier. Since they were searching already, why not to search for these too; after all, no one wants drugs to come to the country, right? Fair enough.

Terrorism became a "buzz word" in security and things has dramatically changed.
The rest is present.
However, I keep wondering, how little is security, and government with our best interest in mind ( I chuckle ), and how much is government's opportunity to control and do those actions that a little ago wasn't possible for it to do.
Now, I ask you. What grounds are you talking about?


[1] Illegality comes down to whom you pay the money.

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I remember when 1984 rolled around, so many people were saying .. "Orwell had it wrong, it didn't happen." These people are saying the same thing today.

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In the name of homeland security, hand over your thumb drive!

I think you have some real good points Aia! Put up a stout fight for privacy, I might visit you in jail later. :)

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I definitely think it's going too far, but I can understand situations where it might become necessary. How bout this...the gov't needs a WARRANT to search your hard drive? How bout that, the creation of a whole new search warrant for electronic devices. They'll probably get misused, but I do think it's interesting that we've been able to snag rapists, etc via internet stings.

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A new search warrant for electronic devices?
We need to really educate the members of our judicial system then, or let a computer issue the warrant after answering three simple random questions.

IMHO: If you want privacy, hide in a cave.

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I think the concept of "in plain sight" that police (in the USA anyway) have to abide by should/must be applied to border/airline screening as well.
Val

OK. So if a terrorist walks through security with a 9mm pistol in a shoulder holster but not wearing a coat it's in plain sight and the thing is confiscated (and he is arrested).
If he has it in his bag (which under your rules can't be X-rayed because that's designed to make things that are not in plain sight visible...) he can take it with him on the aircraft and shoot up the cabin.

Unintended consequences of your proposed policy maybe, but quite serious...

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Well if the government have sufficient grounds to look through your Laptop/Computer they can do that. But if it is just random checks on people, don't they have to warn the public that there will be random checks on peoples data in their computer?
If they have a reason for doing it then i would vote Yes, but if it just at random with no warning that they are going to check your Laptop/Computer then i would have to say No.

Yeah, there should be something that makes the government official obligated to search through the laptop/computer. We definitely need some racial profiling in these cases.. If some white dude dressed up in a business suit walks in with a laptop, then let him go through without checking it. But, if some muslim dude comes up wearing a towel on his head, then they should definitely confiscate his laptop and search through it for suspicious material.

Hell, I'd much rather them spend more time checking us when boarding an airplane than have some airplane go through my house or work! We must sometimes choose between freedom and security.. Here, I make the exception to forfeit my freedom and allow for searches.. If you have something you don't want others to see, then be smart about it! Encrypt it, hide it, or best of all.. don't bring it on an airplane!

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My question is, why is it necessary to check for child pornography on laptops in airports? I could understand checking for marijuana if your plane came back from Colombia, etc. but since when does child pornography need to be physically transported in order to get it to the United States? Wouldn't it usually be done electronically over the internet? No one goes to the Philippines just to get such pictures, put them on the computer, and take them back to the United States. Not that I would have anything to hide, but I still consider it an invasion of privacy for reasons already mentioned. (By the way, a warrant isn't needed for a moveable scene of crime, whoever it was that said a warrant was needed to check your briefcase. Only suspicion is needed. Terry v. Ohio even stretched that a bit)

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My question is, why is it necessary to check for child pornography on laptops in airports? I could understand checking for marijuana if your plane came back from Colombia, etc. but since when does child pornography need to be physically transported in order to get it to the United States? Wouldn't it usually be done electronically over the internet? No one goes to the Philippines just to get such pictures, put them on the computer, and take them back to the United States. Not that I would have anything to hide, but I still consider it an invasion of privacy for reasons already mentioned. (By the way, a warrant isn't needed for a moveable scene of crime, whoever it was that said a warrant was needed to check your briefcase. Only suspicion is needed. Terry v. Ohio even stretched that a bit)

I don't think they were looking for child pornography.. they just found it during the search.. and considering that child pornography is ILLEGAL in the United States then it was perfectly fine for them to confiscate it. The idiot should have at least hid the porn somewhere other than "My Pictures". Idiot.

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We definitely need some racial profiling in these cases.. If some white dude dressed up in a business suit walks in with a laptop, then let him go through without checking it. But, if some muslim dude comes up wearing a towel on his head, then they should definitely confiscate his laptop and search through it for suspicious material.

Your avatar fits you perfectly. Because white businessmen are just incapable of terrorism and middleastern people are all terrorists (hope no one's stupid enough not to sense my sarcasm). Being muslim is having a certain religion, not ethnicity. A white businessman can be muslim. And what can a terrorist do with computer files that's dangerous anyway? Show you a clip from youtube of Fox news? Terrorists aren't stupid either. Those on 9/11 were living in the US for a long time already. I don't see why terrorist groups can't find white supporters (probably not al queda, I know) to dress in business suits and go onto airplanes.

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I don't think they were looking for child pornography.. they just found it during the search.. and considering that child pornography is ILLEGAL in the United States then it was perfectly fine for them to confiscate it. The idiot should have at least hid the porn somewhere other than "My Pictures". Idiot.

Of course I agree it should have been confiscated (I only skimmed the article, but I'll talk as though I know everything about it cause that's what I do, lol). What were they searching for?

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Your avatar fits you perfectly. Because white businessmen are just incapable of terrorism and middleastern people are all terrorists (hope no one's stupid enough not to sense my sarcasm). Being muslim is having a certain religion, not ethnicity. A white businessman can be muslim. And what can a terrorist do with computer files that's dangerous anyway? Show you a clip from youtube of Fox news? Terrorists aren't stupid either. Those on 9/11 were living in the US for a long time already. I don't see why terrorist groups can't find white supporters (probably not al queda, I know) to dress in business suits and go onto airplanes.

Yeah, but who is more likely to commit an act of terror- a white dude or a muslim? Obviously, the muslim is more suspect. Their religion is violent, stupid, and controlling. Does this mean that all muslims are terrorists? No. The more violent sect has less members, but still their religion is much more violent than Christianity.

I would definitely back racial profiling simply because it is more efficient at catching terrorists than just using random checks.

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We must sometimes choose between freedom and security..

Wrong! They are not antithesis of each other.

Here, I make the exception to forfeit my freedom and allow for searches..

You can not forfeit what you do not have. You do not make an exception where you don't have choice. You do not forfeit freedom; it gets stripped from you.
You could resist, you could fight trying to protect it. That's about it.

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Yeah, but who is more likely to commit an act of terror- a white dude or a muslim? Obviously, the muslim is more suspect. Their religion is violent, stupid, and controlling. Does this mean that all muslims are terrorists? No. The more violent sect has less members, but still their religion is much more violent than Christianity.

I would definitely back racial profiling simply because it is more efficient at catching terrorists than just using random checks.

Josh, you are coming across as an ASS. And I know you are not. Be more selective in your words if you want people to pay attention to what you have to say. Remember high ideas required high language.

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Wrong! They are not antithesis of each other.

You can not forfeit what you do not have. You do not make an exception were you don't have choice. You do not forfeit freedom; it gets stripped from you.
You could resist, you could fight trying to protect it. That's about it.

Actually, sometimes freedom and protection are indeed antithesis of each other. Sometimes, we must choose between having more freedoms and privacy, thus, increasing risk.. or increase our protection, but forfeit freedoms.

Airports are a great example. We used to be allowed to take just about everything on the plane and go through airport security in seconds. Now, however, we have given up some freedoms. We can no longer take certain items onto airplanes and we must wait longer for security to make sure we don't have any harmful items on person.

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Actually, sometimes freedom and protection are indeed antithesis of each other. Sometimes, we must choose between having more freedoms and privacy, thus, increasing risk.. or increase our protection, but forfeit freedoms.

You only say that because that's how you have been conditioned to think. I agree it is much more easier for authority agencies to restrict you to the point of making you a baggage.
Also, I would conceit that security is used as a pretext to control. But not, I do not agree that security and freedom are antithesis of each other.

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Well, one might say that because of terrorists, we are now forced to "forfeit" some freedom for security. This willing forfeit that you speak of was not my choice. Whether I wanted it or not, nobody asked me. In a way, you might say, the terrorists have already taken away a part of our freedom in this sense. One might say that is was the incompetence of our government that this could happen.

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