Border Agents Can Search Laptops Without Cause
Anyone considering traveling outside of the US would do well to read this item on the Wired.com blog about a recent federal appeals court decision that border agents can search laptops, phones and other electronics without cause (and presumably without a warrant either).
What it means is that anyone crossing the border needs to be aware that Agents at the boarder are permitted to search your phone, laptop, etc. Obviously, while this means that they’ve got the potential to catch assorted nasty, evil people with evidence on their hard drives & phones. There is also the fact that it’s a serious invasion of privacy and has a major potential here for abuse.
This means that if you plan to be crossing the border anytime soon, you’ll want to be prepared for this possibility. If there’s anything on your drive that you consider private, that you don’t want anyone snooping into for any reason, then there are two possibilities.
1) Remove the files in question… burn ’em on cd, leave ’em on a flash drive at home, whatever it takes to make sure the only thing found on your laptop, phone, ipod, etc is boring stuff.
2) Keep anything private or sensitive in the hidden volume of a truecrypt container. Keep the size of the containers as small as possible and hide them in various places on your computer with cryptic looking names.
The advantage of using a hidden volume is that if somebody does decide that xyz file is a truecrypt container and gets insistent about you opening it, you can give them the passphrase for the outer container which you would have pre-loaded with stuff that searchers would be willing to believe that you’re keeping hidden but wouldn’t actually be illegal.
Of course, in the case of the truecrypt container, you need to be prepared. As in a backup in a secure location you can recover it from after you return home because it’s always possible that you’ll need to allow the container to be destroyed to protect it’s contents.
Hmm.. this gives me an idea. Sometime soon I’m going to try to work up a tutorial for using a truecrypt container with both an ‘outer’ volume and a ‘hidden’ volume.
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