[IP] search experience on "border"

Lauren Weinstein lauren at vortex.com
Mon Jul 31 12:21:00 PDT 2006

>From: Travis Kalanick <travis at redswoosh.net>
>While operating my laptop he said that we was tasked with preventing
>illegal pornographic material from entering the United States
>He returned my laptop after this warrantless search saying I was free


And to what end -- other than going through the motions -- is such
a search?

Given a quick check, the border agent would be unlikely to find a
cache of porn photos that was compressed and archived in a single
encrypted file named C:\WINDOWS\$NtUninstallKB911567 or some other
obscure name -- not a single JPG porn file to be found in a file

Perhaps what's really going on in such border cases is some sort of
"amateur test" -- since any pro who wanted to bring porn (or any
other data) into the U.S. on a laptop would never leave the data in
an easily discovered form.  But then again, why bother using the
laptop?  How about putting an innocuous looking file on that cute
keychain memory dongle?  Or on an iPod?  Porn could be easily rigged
to look like an mp3 file, that could even play properly.  Or why not
use some spare cell phone memory area?  Or how about that 2 Gig
memory stick in the camera, or a miniSD memory card inserted
into an electric razor or the binding of a book?

To quote the wonderful episode "OBIT" from the original '60s
television series "The Outer Limits": "The machines are everywhere!"
Anyone with half a brain who wants to bring data into the U.S. can
do so without meaningful detection, short of a full body cavity
strip search and prolonged forensic analysis -- and even then the
true nature of any data might well be undiscovered.

All of the rest is for show, and perhaps to cull the low hanging fruit.

Lauren Weinstein
lauren at vortex.com or lauren at pfir.org
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR
    - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, IOIC
    - International Open Internet Coalition - http://www.ioic.net
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
DayThink: http://daythink.vortex.com

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