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Old 2008-04-28, 00:52   Link #21
Join Date: May 2006
Location: State of Denial
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Everything that needs to be said has, but let me add my experience in to boost your confidence:

In my travels, I've never had any data--whether on laptop hard drive, CD, flash drive, or magnetic tape--checked. That's including several searches for various reasons and even going into and out of Cuba. My traveling companions (whose travel experience is far more extensive than mine) has been the same.

They see thousands of laptops pass by them every day, and they simply want you to go through as quickly and making as little trouble for them as possible. Unless you are a person of very special interest, your laptop will hardly earn an extra glance (unless they want to see it's real and boots) and your data will certainly not be examined. If you're in that situation, you have MUCH bigger things to worry about than what's on your hard drive (unless it's related to why you're of such interest).

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Old 2008-04-28, 07:24   Link #22
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: China
I have had my laptop checked physically in the past - with a scan using the usual machine, a full powering up of the laptop and a careful check using some chemical to, I think, check for bomb-making residue - but that happened years ago when they were still figuring out the checks. Even then, they were more interested in making sure that it was actually a laptop that works than anything else.

These days, as long as you don't act "suspicious" or get pulled aside for special checks because you somehow met a criterion, the most that should happen is the usual "take your laptop out and have it scanned separately". That was my experiences so far traveling in- and outside of the U.S. anyway.
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Old 2008-04-28, 07:29   Link #23
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Under a Starry Sky
Age: 68
Mark Rasch, a former Justice Department official and now a columnist for securityfocus, wrote a very interesting piece recently on just these issues. I commend it anyone with an interest in the legal protection of computer privacy.

Me, I'd never take anything that I might consider even vaguely dubious across an international border, especially these days the American border. Put the stuff on a server somewhere and download it again when you arrive, or mail it to yourself as Kyon suggests.

Rasch summarizes the current view held by American officials (one with which he disagrees) as follows:

"The customs agents' job is to protect the nation from 'anything harmful,' to gather intelligence, prevent terrorism, and to enforce all of the laws, including child pornography and copyright laws. The computer is no different from any other 'closed container' that the agent may search. Just as the agent needs no probable cause to search your underwear, they need no probable cause to rummage through your laptop. And besides, they are doing it to protect the country and enforce the laws and prevent terrorist attacks. You don't have any privacy rights at the border anyway, so what's the problem?"

These issues are making their way through the court system now.
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Old 2008-04-28, 13:43   Link #24
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wherever life takes me.
I am sorry, but you are all paranoid. Now, I don't know about american borders, but in Europe... So, I am born in Latvia (small country, in EU, but most of the safety on border crossing is still in place), but I live and study in UK. That means, I go home at least once every two months. There and back again. Not only has my laptop never been searched (apart from x-rays), but I haven't as much as seen anyones laptop being inspected. If they inspect laptops on USA borders now, I understand why'd you want to come to Europe.
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