Not totally photo related, not just a journal. A bit of both.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

me data es su data, DHS

I just read Jack Kapica's 07/08/08 blog on the Globe and Mail website. Apparently the Department of Homeland Security in the Fortress to the South has instituted new rules that allow for the inspection of data upon entry to the US. Namely it can look on:
"hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers and beepers, as well as video and audio tapes, books, pamphlets and other written material. They can make copies of their contents and examine them at their leisure, and share the contents with other U.S. government agencies."
As the post mentions, that has a whole host of problems for business travellers let alone regular travellers. I read on the NYT site a few weeks ago that one quarter of the air travellers in the US carry on laptops. Ironically that quote was in an article about how the Transportation Security Administration in the US had instituted new rules about allowing for laptop bags that would not require travellers to remove them from the bags when going through screening. I guess the DHS peekaboo will negate the TSA easing of restrictions. And the US security universe remains in balance.

According to this Globe article:
The policies require federal agents to take measures to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material. They stipulate that any copies of the data must be destroyed when a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information.
And I guess there is absolutely no way to prove they would. And what about NDAs some company make their staff sign? Letting the government or anyone see the contents of their computer could be grounds for dismissal. I would feel bad even if one pic I had that I didnt want copied got out in the wild. And thats incredibly minor compared to say the merger plans of two companies... Or even the mock up of the cover of the next Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

I guess the key for those who can afford it/need it would be to have a travel laptop with really nothing on it when crossing the border. And upload everything to a off site storage/ backing up service or even an FTP site before coming home - and deleting any reference to that service on the laptop before hitting the airport.

Of course, having a totally empty blank laptop, empty memory cards in a camera, empty MP3 player and so on would probably have the same effect as having terrorist on your forehead. And probably flag you as suspicious on "The List" somewhere in the bowels of the DHS alphabet soup of agencies. the very thing you are trying to avoid since, aside from normal privacy issues, most people have nothing to hide.

There was a time where the only thing you had to prove was that the laptop, camera, watch expensive thingy was yours and you didnt buy it overseas when traveling so you didnt have to declare it as a purchase or worrying about some chucklehead baggage loader stealing stuff from your bags... Times have changed.


Mike Wood Photography

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