Crossing the Border, How To Lose Your Laptop And Your Personal Information

You might be planning a trip outside of the US soon. Maybe on a train, a plane or by car. Whatever method of transportation you use, you may want to consider leaving your laptop and any other gadgets behind. Reports of laptops and phones being confiscated, opened and examined, and sometimes stolen make bringing them along a risky proposition.

There are multiple cases of TSA agents stealing or seizing laptops, never to be returned. In the case of Nelson Santiago, he would go through peoples luggage looking for anything of value, and stick it in his pants! Goods were often sold before the end of his shift, most of them unrecovered: http://www.geek.com/articles/gadgets/tsa-agent-caught-stealing-passengers-ipad-hides-it-in-his-pants-2011078/

Ok, so Santiago wasn’t doing anything that the TSA would officially stand by, but what about the official government policy on border security? “Federal agents may take a traveler’s laptop or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing”. Yikes! That means that any border agent can take your laptop, without any justification, and then NEVER RETURN IT:

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/08/us_government_p.html 

So do yourself a favor, next time you feel the urge to travel, leave your brand new laptop at home.

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3 thoughts on “Crossing the Border, How To Lose Your Laptop And Your Personal Information

  1. Also, this is one of the many reasons why its a good idea to encrypt your hard drive. I traveled to England this summer and before I did so, I made sure that my hard drive was fully encrypted. I’ve heard of a few court cases where it was disputed whether a person had to give up their encryption key. I’m pretty sure as it stands today – that you don’t have to give it up.

    But thats terrible that TSA agents are seizing computers without any sort of reasoning behind it, so it seems.

  2. I’ve always traveled with my laptop and never thought about this happening. Some policies need to be changed, or some need to be made to fix this. I guess it’s all for the safety of others, but I think they’ve gone a little too far.

  3. There is no reason to leave your laptop behind if you have nothing to hide from the government. My laptop is the only thing I bring on trips to entertain myself, so there is almost no way that I would leave my laptop at home (especially for a 6 hour trip). And, as I said earlier, I have nothing to hide, the TSA would have no reason to keep my laptop. They are looking for laptops and devices that carry threats to the United States (which as far as I know, I don’t have).

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