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Subject: [IP] more on search experience on "border"

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To:
  • Date: Thu, 03 Aug 2006 16:40:30 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: August 3, 2006 12:40:40 PM EDT
Subject: RE: [IP] more on search experience on &quot;border&quot;

One consequence of knowing that the thought police are watching is the fear of appearing on political donation lists since there is the perception, if not the reality, that science appointees are vetted for their political affiliations. While requiring public disclosure of the lists is supposed to assure &#x201C;fair&#x201D; funding it has the side- effect of exposing the participants to other pressures. In a way it defeats the purpose of keeping ballots secret.

Along these lines, it&#x2019;s hard enough to do disruptive research if one is committed to delivering a result rather than surprises &#x2013; if one presumes science is about discovering the one truth then why tolerate surprises? It reminds me of the Greeks&#x2019; reaction to the heretic who showed that the square root of two was irrational.

Preventing the import of bad ideas seems to be a &#x201C;reasonable&#x201D; extension of such attitudes. No need to understand them if you can isolate yourself from reality.

Focusing on &#x201C;pornography&#x201D; just adds a touch of absurdity to the whole thing but remember that it&#x2019;s not about this world &#x2013; it&#x2019;s about the next one.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Farber []
Sent: Thursday, August 03, 2006 08:45
Subject: [IP] more on search experience on &#x201C;border&#x201D;

Begin forwarded message:

From:   Tom Fairlie <>

Date:    August 3, 2006 8:24:14 AM EDT



Subject:            Re: [IP] more on search experience on &#x201C;border&#x201D;

And to what end?

We know that the Bush administration has long tried to earn points with religious fundamentalists. We also know that this same administration operates incompetently the majority of the time (both objective facts). Thus, creating a speed bump at our borders to keep out evil porn would be a good example of a policy that fits both MOs&#x2014; it&#x2019;s appealing to prudes and ineffective/costly at the same time.

We also know that the Bush administration has accelerated our descent into fascism. This isn&#x2019;t hyperbole; anyone who studies such things would at least admit that this is a debatable assertion. The stopping of good travelers at our borders for a little personal interrogation, while not effective at stopping anything, is a marvelous form of thought control (e.g., &#x201C;Let&#x2019;s remember to not bring anything with us that might be considered offensive to our government.&#x201D; begets &#x201C;Let&#x2019;s not say anything offensive to our government.&#x201D; begets &#x201C;My government knows best.&#x201D;)

I think the real answer is somewhere in the middle. As we&#x2019;ve all discussed, the TSA has been largely ineffective and they aren&#x2019;t free. However, they have also now done a long list of things that, for better or worse, have forced millions of Americans to think twice before performing many different innocuous actions before traveling. Given that this list is growing and not shrinking based upon public outcry, I gather that my second option above is either part of the plan or just a happy coincidence.

Tom Fairlie

----- Original Message -----

From:   &#x201C;David Farber&#x201D; <>

To:       <>

Sent:    Monday, July 31, 2006 11:25 AM

Subject:            [IP] more on search experience on &#x201C;border&#x201D;

Begin forwarded message:

From:   Lauren Weinstein <>

Date:    July 31, 2006 12:21:00 PM EDT



Subject:            Re: [IP] search experience on &#x201C;border&#x201D;

From:         Travis Kalanick <>


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&#x2014;other than going through the motions&#x2014;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&#x2014;not a single JPG porn file to be found in a file scan.

Perhaps what&#x2019;s really going on in such border cases is some sort of &#x201C;amateur test&#x201D;&#x2014;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 &#x201C;OBIT&#x201D; from the original &#x2018;60s television series &#x201C;The Outer Limits&#x201D;: &#x201C;The machines are everywhere!&#x201D; 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&#x2014;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.

&#xB7;         Lauren&#x2014;

Lauren Weinstein or

Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800

Co-Founder, PFIR

&#xB7;         People For Internet Responsibility -

Co-Founder, IOIC

&#xB7;         International Open Internet Coalition -

Moderator, PRIVACY Forum -

Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy

Lauren&#x2019;s Blog:


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