NYC judge asked to throw out border search lawsuit

(AP) -- A federal judge in New York City is questioning why laptops and smartphones should be excluded from random searches done by U.S. customs agents protecting the border.

Judge Edward Korman heard arguments Friday in Brooklyn on a lawsuit brought against the by Pascal Abidor.

Abidor's laptop was confiscated last year at the Canadian border while en route to New York from Montreal. He says that when it was returned, it was clear agents had looked at personal files.

Civil rights lawyers representing Abidor argue the search was unconstitutional. The government says it can search belongings at the border without cause.

The judge suggested Friday no cause is needed because the searches are meant to stop terror attacks. He will rule later on whether to dismiss the case.

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Jul 09, 2011
Maybe because nothing of value to terrorist can be found on a lap top? If they are looking for "terrorist files" there is something called the internet that can transfer unlimited information anywhere.

Jul 09, 2011
A quick scan of the laptop or phone for explosives should be enough. Its just another example of the gov using the fear of terrorism to have more comtrol over its people.

Jul 09, 2011

All they could possibly hope to get at is Amateur Terrorists' files. Professionals would either encrypt the sensitive stuff, or even better, hide it. (The average 5-year old laptop contains 50,000 files. Saving your terrorist buddies' names somewhere else than the home directory, in a file with a name reminiscent of some system files goes a long way already.) Or both.

The government can't possibly expect a border officer to be all that proficient with computers. At the end of the day, this is simply undue infringement on citizens' basic rights.

Jul 11, 2011
If I was a terrorist I would do what most terrorists are known to do. Any security expert will tell you that heavy encryption and security are implemented by terrorists. I mean hell, I've been hiding things attached to JPG's for YEARS using the command prompt trick copy /b filename 1 filename 2 filename_end

One line of code and you can hide Gigabytes in one small image and no one would know if you hid it.
I'm more worried about where to hide my weed...stupid government :-< trying to steal my porn.

Jul 11, 2011
I suspect that all a terrorist may need to do to hide their files from the border cops would be to use a non-standard OS. Linux or BSD or Haiku, have it set to open in CLI mode... I doubt any of the TSA Luddites could make their way into any files of any real meaning.

Then again,if i were a terrorist trying to smuggle in/out documents it would be very easy to just upload them to a secure server using SSL or some other encryption, or save all my documents to a small usb drive and condom/swallow it. They don't check phones, you could save all the important info to the phone's memory stick, they could then also hide the memory stick within the phone it's self.

One could also save the info on the computer, then delete it and rely on an "undelete" program to recover the "lost" files. Then unless they're copying bit-by-bit the whole drive they'll not even know the files are there.

Jul 11, 2011
If really concerned my thoughts would be thus:

Disable startup from CD, USB, and other external devices in the BIOS

Password Protect BIOS (conveniently forget password if asked)

Startup into the CLI (command line) Mode for your OS (Pick a non-standard OS).

Do not automatically mount the Partition with your sensitive informaiton.

Encrypt the Partition with your sensitive data.

Rename, copy into, or otherwise hide your data to look like it is data of another type (Picture like previously suggested, an innocent looking text file, etc etc).

There are many other OS or File System spesific "Tricks" you can do to hide your data, i would always suggest using a variety of these on data you wish to keep secure from prying eyes.

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