Saturday, March 17, 2007

Crossing the border...

I was on travel this week - spent most of it in Canada.  Crossing the border was an interesting experience.

When I fill out the forms used for immigration, I always tell the truth.  Yes, I'm here on business (check that box).  No, I haven't been on a farm.  No, I don't have any business material with me.  That sort of stuff.

Well, this time, honesty sort of backfired.  Why:

  • Yes, I'm here on business
  • No, I don't have work materials
  • Yes, I have a laptop

It was that last bit.  The customs agent wanted to know "is that your employers laptop" - nope, it is mine.  "Do you do work on it, business work?".  Well, I read email, browse the web, have all of my presentations on it, use it to present, run Oracle on it, demonstrate with it.  "So, it is your companies laptop then?".  Nope, it is mine.

They scribbled someone on the immigration form, handed it to me and said "have a nice trip".  I head out of baggage claim - but instead of being told to go right (to freedom), I'm directed to the left - to additional scrutiny.  No worries - nothing to be found, no problem.

So, I wait a bit and finally someone comes along and says "ok, over here".  They read the form and we go through the whole "business or personal, who owns that computer" stuff again.  Same answers.  He asks to see my computer (a small Sony Vaio).  I oblige.  He spent a couple of minutes looking at it, rotating it, studying it, turning it around, flipping it over, looking it all up and down.  I finally asked "are you looking for something?". He said "the latch, to open it".  There is no latch, just lift the lid.  "Ahhhh, got it".

So, we have the laptop open now - he wants to turn it on.  Before doing that - he asks "is it password protected?".  I said "some of it is".  This perplexed him - I don't think he's ever heard that before.  So we turn it on.  We are presented with a logon screen - but with three choices:

  • Administrator
  • Family
  • Tkyte

He asks me how to proceed.  I was a bit dumbfounded at that point - what do you mean?  "Well, what should I click on to log in".  I tried to explain what the three accounts were- Administrator used to, well, administer the machine.  Family - used by, well, my kids to play games.  Tkyte - used by, well "me".  He asked me to pick one.  So I said let's use tkyte, I know that one best.

He clicks on it and it asks for a password.  He looks surprised and says "it needs a password".  I was like - that is OK, I have it, here you go... Now he is logged in.  But - my desktop looks a tad different from most - there is no IE on the desktop, just the recycle bin and a folder called programs - nothing else.

He really doesn't know what to do now.  No special searching software, nothing.  He looks at me and says "you know what we are doing here right?".  I said - not really (I knew what we were doing, I read the news and all, but just said "no").  "Well" he says "we are looking for pornography".  Ahh I say... Ok, no problem. 

But he is stuck.  There is nothing familiar.  So he clicks on the start menu and finds "My Pictures".  You know, if I was into that - that is precisely where I would stick all of my porn - right there in "My Pictures".  He goes into it - and sees all of my folders.  And al of my pictures, which we looked at.  He said "wow, you travel a lot", I said "yup". 

Now, after about 15 minutes of looking at my pictures (I have to resist the urge to point him to my favorites :) he shuts down my computer and says "Ok sir, thank you very much, have a nice trip".

What an utter and complete waste of time.  His, mine, all of it.

I have three accounts, tens of thousands of files.  Each account sees a different set of files.  I seriously doubt I would keep in "My Pictures" a folder full of "not good stuff".  Heck, I might encrypt the data, I might hide the file name, I might put it somewhere not obvious, I might use an account not visible on the logon window by default.  I might do a lot of stuff. 

The person doing the search - they were afraid of the computer.  They did not use one.  They did not know what they were looking for.  They did not know how to look for it.  I felt like giving him POINTERS as we were going through this.  I had to bite my tongue and refrain from giving him tips.  The reason - the last person on the planet you want to annoy - the customs people at a border crossing.  They can really ruin your day if they want to.

So, I just smiled and acted all patient.  Moved on when it was time to move one.

But, what an utter and total waste of time, money, everything.

And - it makes them look "not smart".

Just a good thing they didn't look in the recycle bin ;)

POST A COMMENT

109 Comments:

Blogger Sidhu said....

Tom

I used to think that such things happen in india mostly because India is counted among developing countries. Very surprised to see that the same thing happened there also. This is nothing more than wastage of time and unnecassary uncomfort.

& about the Recycle Bin thing...I just cant stop laughing...

Sidhu

Sat Mar 17, 11:46:00 PM EDT  

Blogger jforonda said....

This happened to me once, but it was while entering the US. I have a dual boot laptop. First thing the guy sees is grub. He didn't know what to do and he asked me: "What is that Solaris?". So I boot up Solaris. He looked very puzzled. He was looking for the same thing - porno. He asked where my picture folder was. I opened a shell window and used 'find -type f -name "*jpg"'. It totally freaked him out. :)

Sun Mar 18, 12:07:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Sidhu said....

I just love it find -type f -name "*jpg"

awesome !!!

Sidhu

Sun Mar 18, 01:07:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous CarlosAL said....

"Now, after about 15 minutes of looking at my pictures (I have to resist the urge to point him to my favorites :) he shuts down my computer and says "Ok sir, thank you very much, have a nice trip".

What an utter and complete waste of time. His, mine, all of it."

Not only a waste of time. A complete violation of your privacity!!

Why the heck a customers officer should see bits of your personal (an private) life??

Looking for Pornography? No blueprints for weapons, poison formulas, etc, etc...

It would be ridiculous if it was not so sad!

21st century paranoia all over the world.

Cheers.

Carlos.

Sun Mar 18, 05:27:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous A O'Hara said....

I wonder how the pornography consumers are doing, now that the airline pornography smugglers are out of business. They're probably desperate, pornography can't be found nowhere else ...

Sun Mar 18, 08:29:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Pierre said....

I wonder if they were told to start iPhoto on a Mac...

This is very bad. They will soon look for pirated software, illegally downloaded mp3, etc. (They'll first have to learn how to open My Music folder.) When travelling to the US, you will soon need to arrive 6 hours in advance to take a plane because they need to scan your disk to see if you do not import illegal software.

(A foreigner living in the US who crosses the border several times a year.)

Sun Mar 18, 09:48:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

"I seriously doubt I would keep in "My Pictures" a folder full of "not good stuff". "
Surely you'd keep it as BLOBs in the database, with appropriate tags so you could index and search them properly :)

Sun Mar 18, 05:53:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Noons said....

the closest friend of organized crime are politicians with "good intentions".

they are the ones who invent these "rules".

that's why I go all frothy when I hear a pollie claim the way to stop pedophiles is to stop folks taking photos in public!

500% agreed: what an utter waste of time and resources...

Sun Mar 18, 05:54:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Chris said....

Just remember its not the guy whoose standing there looking at your laptops fault. Someone has made the rule "check all laptops for X". Logically this means employing someone who can actually perform the checks or training existing security staff.

Neither of these is likely to happen so staff just go through the motions, the strangest thing I have seen was during the UK's binary liquid explosive scare a security guard confiscating bottles of liquid and pouring the contents into a large container, then handing the empty bottles back.

Some training on the meaning of the word Binary may have been in order...

Mon Mar 19, 08:14:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Just remember its not the guy whoose standing there looking at your laptops fault.

I know - just like the people behind the counter when your flight is canceled (which mine was on the way home from Canada - it was hard to get into Canada and really hard to leave :)

Not all people understand that - like the nice guy carrying his 1-2 year old kid and upon hearing his flight was canceled just started say f#@# over and over really loud. It took about 3 minutes for some large people with badges to appear to help him find a replacement flight to get home.

Mon Mar 19, 08:21:00 AM EDT  

Blogger maht said....

I wonder how he'd cope with my Plan 9 desktop

http://www.proweb.co.uk/~matt/plan9/desktop.gif

I'd probably be arrested on the spot!

Mon Mar 19, 10:16:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous jjrs said....

I've been living in Japan for several years so I'm out of the loop...since when is it illegal have porn on your laptop crossing the Canadian border?

Mon Mar 19, 11:32:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Since the pictures of the presidents wife got out ;)

Mon Mar 19, 11:49:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Jim said....

I don't think porn is what they were looking for. I think they were looking for porn with underage people. (yech, kiddie porn) While I am against kiddie porn (and I am sure Tom is also), it is a complete waste of time and resources to fight it this way.

I'm guessing that if it was the company's computer they wouldn't have looked. Assuming that it is the company's responsibility to monitor its own computers.

Mon Mar 19, 11:50:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I've crossed into the US from Canada and Mexico hundreds of times. The Canadians are at least polite. The Mexicans, if you are a U.S. citizen and know the ground rules, are equally reasonable (as long as you're not actually doing anything wrong). The Americans are by far the worst. I spent two hours at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit one night watching two guys with power tools take my car apart. Why? I was young, bringing int he legal limit on Canadian beer and cigarettes, and hadn't shaved in a couple of days. I suppose today I'd be headed to Gitmo. Glad you made it through.

Mon Mar 19, 12:19:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

At the US border they are allowed now to seize your laptop and search for porn. Then your laptop will be returned at some other time if nothing is found.

Some people have not had their laptop returned after almost a year.

Mon Mar 19, 02:11:00 PM EDT  

Blogger John Williams said....

I was detained by even a third level of security my last trip to Ottawa. My offense? I didn't know the address of the place I was staying at. Of course, it was in my cellphone, but I was told I couldn't turn it on.

The only other traveller to be detained had been previously convicted of weapons smuggling.

Mon Mar 19, 02:24:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Yep, ran through something like this myself about a year ago...

Mon Mar 19, 02:36:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Robert said....

hhaha someone posted this on reddit

Mon Mar 19, 03:05:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Robert said....

hahah you didn't give him some education there because it's "Windows stuff", else
if he asked you to fire up Oracle and asked "So how do I search for image BLOBs....." I doubt you could resist :)

Mon Mar 19, 03:24:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Could be an idiot, or a smart officer trying to see if something he says or does provoke a defensive reaction on you. We'll never know ^_^

Mon Mar 19, 03:24:00 PM EDT  

Blogger averyv said....

"Just remember its not the guy whoose standing there looking at your laptops fault. Someone has made the rule "check all laptops for X". Logically this means employing someone who can actually perform the checks or training existing security staff."

it is their fault for following it. every individual is absolutely responsible for every action that they take. it might be worth it to them for the sake of not losing their job, but they are in no way absolved their role in this wasteful, invasive, and wholly ridiculous practice.

Mon Mar 19, 03:35:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Why would you have a "personal" laptop that you do your paid work on? If you do paid work on it, then it is your WORK laptop. Playing word games like this with the border people is a sure way to have your time wasted in just such a fashion. Glad to hear they called you on it.

Mon Mar 19, 03:44:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I don't even understand the sense of searching laptops for porn. What do they do when they found some ? Is porn even illegal now in Canada, or is it just about importing foreign porn ?

Mon Mar 19, 03:47:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Just to be clear, I'm not blaming the individual.

They were doing their job. They were doing what they were supposed to do.

In their place, I would be able to state "but it is not meaningful to look at someones computer this way - you need something to scan the disk and you have to take into consideration the fact that there will be password protected stuff (ntfs volumes, other volumes from other OS's and the like), that there will be 10's or 100's of thousands of files.


I did not even mention that my laptop had 3 virtual machines on it (computers in computers...) and my backpack had a USB drive with 10 more virtual machines.

I had at least 14 "computers" running various operating sytems at various release levels.

The 'people' - they were professional in their job, it was the process put in place that didn't make sense to me. I would not be able to take someones laptop and in a couple of minutes "search" it. But I only know that because I live in this computer world - I'm a techie. They were given an impossible job.

Mon Mar 19, 03:49:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Why would you have a "personal" laptop that you do your paid work on?

Why wouldn't I?

I like my technology. I want the computer I want. So, I have my own.

There were no *word games*. It would have been a word game had I said "yes, that is my employers computer", that would have been - a lie.

And you see, when you start to lie - that is when you get into deep s@#%

So, I do not lie.

I was there on business.
I brought MY computer.

I use my cellphone to read email too - it is MY cellphone.

Heck, I didn't even use my computer at customer sites in Canada - the customers were of the nature where by about the only thing electronic I was allowed to bring into the building was my watch.

It is not my work laptop. It did sort of have my pictures of my trips taken during my time. Birthday parties, blog entries, my books (which are my books - not my employers).

I stink at lying - so I just stick with what I know to be true.

Mon Mar 19, 03:55:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Daniel said....

Maybe I missing something obvious, but was this a Canadian or American Immigration official?

Mon Mar 19, 03:57:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I was going from Washington Dulles to Ottawa Ontario - it was Canadian customs.

Mon Mar 19, 04:02:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Aaron said....

Honestly, they don't have to be competent at searching the computer. if someone was to stow kiddie porn on their laptop, and the border guard started searching it, then they'd be looking for the reaction. nervousness, stuttering, etc. if you act like you have nothing to hide then they won't bother you further, which is why you weren't detained for long.

Mon Mar 19, 04:08:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Roderick said....

The first time I crossed into Canada, the border patrol person was so attractive, I hoped she would pull me over for further interrogation. But I had nothing worth checking out apparently. The goofy smile I had probably got me through customs even faster.

Mon Mar 19, 05:13:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I am Canadian and I travel do a lot of business travelling. The first time I encountered that experience, I was furious but I did let the custom's officer look into my laptop but I knew he had no idea what he was doing. The second time I experienced it, I argued with the young fella and I said do you know what you're doing because he was searching for *.jpg files. I said I could hide the file under any extension and he had no idea what to say. The 3rd time, I decided to try something else. I changed the wallpaper on my desktop with this dude that was wearing leather. Well, you should see the customs’ officer when he opened my laptop. I just smiled but it didn’t stop them of doing it on other occasions.
I know it's ridiculous and stupid. I've been thinking about contacting my MP (member of parliament) about this for a while. You just encouraged me and I will complain about this because it's stupid the way they're doing it.
I apologize in behalf of other Canadians who think this is totally nonsense.

Mon Mar 19, 06:22:00 PM EDT  

Blogger S.R. said....

I'm too lazy to read through all the comments, so if someone has already posted this, then I apologize.

I am a Canadian and do not intend to defend the stupidity of our immigration officers. There is no question that 99% of the time they let all the people through they SHOULD be questioning and stop those who obviously shouldn't.

In this case, however, I think there was some oversight as to what the immigration office was looking for. Unfortunately, and I DO stress UNFORTUNATELY, Canada has recently become a hotbed for CHILD porn, NOT pornography. So they randomly picked you to look for that. (At least that would be my guess).

If you would have opened your favorites and brought up the legit porn, my guess is that the immigration officer would do the proper Canadian thing by offering you a beer and enjoying the show.

So I hope this sheds some light on your experience at the border. And next time... it's easier just to lie! Just tell them it's for business. They won't bug you.

Mon Mar 19, 06:38:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Porn is not illegal in Canada last time I checked.

And you can bet that if they did that to me upon returning to Canada, I'd put Clayton Ruby so far up their ass.

I must point out that US Customs are far more invasive than Canada Customs, being that I travel back and forth all the time. Nevertheless, your experience doesn't surprise me. A major CBC documentary on Canadian Customs showed that most of the time when the harass you they're simply bored or looking to be doing something to earn their pay.

Mon Mar 19, 07:18:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Gabe said....

"Yes, I've been on a farm recently" ... always wondered, what next? Quarantine?

Mon Mar 19, 10:02:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

This happened to me too. During customs baggage inspection the Canadian customs official helped himself to opening my little Vaio. It woke from hibernation, he looked at a folder on the desktop called "EBay" and asked me questions about Ebay. Yes, I bought and sold a few items on EBay I said.

I'd like to know what right he had to search my computer even as superficially as he did. It was a totally coercive situation. Any objection and I'm sure to have a very bad day. I think he was satisfied I wasn't importing a foreign acquired unit - it was something else they're after. It's such an abuse of power.
DL

Mon Mar 19, 10:31:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Customs officers legally have the ability to confiscate whatever you bring into the country.

I know someone who was suspected of lying to an officer at a crossing. They took his truck away. There were no drugs, etc and he paid $500 to get it back.

As for pornography the law is kind of vague. It often comes down to a judgement call on the officer's part.

Canada does not well define what is indecent. (For an example from the 1980s look into the story of magazine companies Jim Pattison owned.)

In a similar way Canada's gun laws are not always clear about which weapons you are allowed to import. Someone tried to explain the rules to me. They kept commenting "gun X is not allowed but Y is and the only difference is Z but Z doesn't matter because ABC."

Tue Mar 20, 01:16:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

This happend to me too!! I did not get the piont.. I am a woman /student I do not have any porn n my laptop

Tue Mar 20, 05:29:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I am Canadian and If I had to complain everytime I get stopped at the US border for nonsense issues, I would have a full time job doing so.
Last time I went through the border the customs officer was so rude to me that I almost turned back and went back home.

Tue Mar 20, 10:44:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

2 years ago my wife thraveled with my 3 kids. The computer selected my youngest daughter as a "potential terrorist". She was just 3 years old, but she was checked out by "fully routine" ...

Tue Mar 20, 03:00:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Peter K said....

Hahaha...sorry Tom, I just had to laugh but yeah, it's a silly procedure which does not address the problem but you are right that it's not the fault of the Customs officer as s/he had to follow procedure.

I still think it's the way that you looked :D

As an aside, border guards have every right to search you and your belongings if they suspect that something might not be kosher. That is also a very good reason why you want to be as patient as possible with them as they can make your life very miserable

Tue Mar 20, 07:00:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

As mentionned by other comments, a customs officer is often looking for verbal or non-verbal reactions from the traveller. Some officers know computers well and some don't but most will not go through your whole computer without any indicators that there is possibly CHILD PORN or HATRED MESSAGES on your laptop. A good officer will usually not let you see that he does not know much about searching computers and will usually see how you react to the possibility of retaining the computer for a longer period (or to get IT to look at it if he doesn't know how). In Canada (and U.S.), officers have that power and often use it. Illegal material is often found on laptops, especially from flights coming from countries where you can easily have sex with children. Coming from the U.S., less is found but there is still some in cars and in commercial truck driver vehicules. If it is found you will be arrested as if you carried guns or drugs. And for those who said you would keep the pictures password protected, you would be surprised how many cross-border travellers forget their common-sense at home and get caught easily. Just last week, I asked a U.S. citizen to show me his I.D. and he gave me his passport. As I opened it on the page with the picture, I found ZigZag papers(joint rolling paper)next to his smiling picture. He had not yet spoken a word and he had already given me reasons to search his car. People would be surprised to know that such ''dumb '' moves happen often at customs so don't be surprised to know that some people do not hide their illegal porn well, even in computers.

Thu Mar 22, 12:54:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Mark Brady said....

" I found ZigZag papers(joint rolling paper)next to his smiling picture. He had not yet spoken a word and he had already given me reasons to search his car. "

Assuming this person is a cop and is correct, it's really sad that the possession of a legal product, rolling papers, that have legal uses, tobacco, become an invitation to give up my 4th amendment protections. When I was in Holland I met no one who smoked pot but lots who rolled their own tobacco cigarettes.

Thu Mar 22, 10:06:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

"a customs officer is often looking for verbal or non-verbal reactions from the traveller"

Really? So when they ram the baton up the rear-end, it's all just a test? The ones who complain are the ones who are subjected to further scrutiny?

Or is this "it's a test" garbage is just the usual post facto intellectual crud from state apologists, bowing to their overlords?

Thu Mar 22, 01:07:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Mark said....

You'd be surprised what folks leave in plain site on their laptops. More than once I've been repairing someone's laptop OS and been quite stunned at pictures which were right there on the desktop or folders labeled "pr0n." Never underestimate the stupidity of the average person. Prisons are chock full of complete idiots who basically put themselves there.

Thu Mar 22, 01:43:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous pfogg said....

Yes, some people can be stupid, and even a cursory search will turn up a few valid cases if one isn't looking for professional smugglers. People are also influenced, to some degree, by social norms, and having a border search for something, even if ineffective, makes a very public statement about disapproval for the target of the search.

Both of these cases, though, affect only casual or end-users of contraband, and the effect is restricted to those who either haven't thought about it, aren't serious about it, or are unusually careless or stupid. If the bulk of the activity falls outside these categories, then the bulk of it isn't affected at all, and the primary influence is to give travelers who have violated no rules and unpleasant experience and a reason not to return.

Thu Mar 22, 04:20:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Adrian Bool said....

"Well" he says "we are looking for pornography". Ahh I say... "I do a lot of that myself"...

Thu Mar 22, 05:32:00 PM EDT  

Blogger a random John said....

I've dealt with the Canadian border dozens of times in the past few years. I've found going in to Canada as a US citizen to be much more cumbersome than entering back into the US. Generally everyone has been very polite but a little slow. But a few times I've caught people that I hope to never meet again. One agent felt the need to give me a twenty minute lecture on the evils of Walmart (which I happened to agree with) before I was allowed to leave. Very strange. If you catch someone with an agenda in Quebec you can kiss your day and several hundred dollars goodbye.

Thu Mar 22, 06:01:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Brian Peterson said....

I've been to Vancouver a number of times on vacation. But I take my office laptop with me every time I go (just in case).

I often leave the "work materials" question blank until I get to the first Customs desk. I tell them I have my office laptop, but that I am not there on business. I get asked a number of questions, but I've never had to go through extra security because of it.

Admittedly, this is not quite your situation, and I haven't been back there for almost two years now; I guess they've started scrutinizing the files on laptops. What a pain.

There's always TrueCrypt.

Thu Mar 22, 08:44:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous inaequitas said....

It is generally easier to get back into your 'home' country than in any other place because of a certain level of automatic trust, maybe? [that's a wrong way to approach this IMHO] Regardless, I've never gotten my laptop checked in either the US or coming back to Canada.

I did have my passport literally thrown in my face by a kind and generous US Consulate representative. That was before I became a Canadian citizen and one of my parents and American one. That felt nice and I always get a nice feeling in my stomach crossing the border into the US [which I do quite a bit.]

As for the Canadians, they'll send you back for any convictions on your record. Some guy got turned today for a conviction he got 19 years ago [and he claimed to have been transiting to the airport only and fly out some other place.] Do I think it's a bit excessive? Maybe. Though I guess it does keep down the number of would-be drug dealers coming to BC for some green.

I do agree with everyone that at least knows that upon entering a foreign country you may be subjected to all kinds of checks. I'm not happy with fingerprinting in the US but if I want to keep visiting...

Fri Mar 23, 12:49:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I'm a Canadian who's been living in Europe for more than 20 years. Whenever I return to Canada for holidays I am subject to much more scrutiny than other passengers who are mostly Canadians returning after a short visit abroad, or foreigners visiting Canada. The questions I'm asked lead me to wonder if I really do have an absolute right to enter the country I'm a citizen of.

I travel a lot for both business and pleasure, and my impression is that Canada customs are among the biggest a**h***s of any customs officers I've encountered (with US a close nr 2).

Fri Mar 23, 03:48:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I always answer yes to the farm question. The nice guys in white always clean my shoes for me while I wait ;)

Fri Mar 23, 01:34:00 PM EDT  

Blogger John said....

I have to admit that sometimes it seems that Canadian customs is having a bit of fun with the Yanks.

True story:

I used to travel between Boston and Montreal a lot.

One day I was going from the US to Quebec with my wife and baby, and the official asked:

Q: Do you have any weapons?

A: No.

Q: You know, revolvers, shotguns, machine guns, knives . . . ?

A: Uh, no.

Q: OK. Thank you.

Sat Mar 24, 06:04:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Mark Reinertson said....

The theatre of security all over again.
Bunch of useless busywork that accomplishes virtually nothing at all.
It's absolutely amazing to me that they consider this such a critically important task and refuse to hire anyone with even the most rudimentary skills and knowledge.
Why? Because they would cost more!

www.securityrants.com

Mon Mar 26, 11:20:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Zhu1 木匠 said....

Will you come to Victoria, BC again?

Mon Mar 26, 12:44:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I guess I have to step up to the plate and ask the obvious question, but... what, exactly, is wrong with having pornography on your laptop?

I think I must have about 20GB on mine, amateur video. I just grabbed all of the videos on alt.binaries.multimedia.erotica.amateur

And I put that stuff right under My Documents in a folder "My Pornography"

Would they really sit there and go through each and every one of them? It would take several hours to play it all start to finish... I'm not sure I could stop myself from laughing if a customs agent watched all of it in front of me.

I'm trying to understand why someone would care so much? I guess someone proposed a law that made life harder for people with pornography and no one spoke up to defend people who look at porn (e.g. 99% of the population) because they didn't want to look like perverts?

Slippery slopes. *sigh*

Tue Mar 27, 11:21:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I always find it interesting that foreign travellers entering a country feel that they can feel superior over another country. One must always remember it is not their country they are entering.

When travelling into the US it is always daunting.

I think the author can feel relieved that he was not subjected to the same intimidation his country uses towards its visitors.

Wed Mar 28, 04:52:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I always find it interesting that foreign travellers entering a country feel that they can feel superior over another country.

I always find it interesting when people presume to know what I was thinking.

Interesting, I didn't feel superior. I felt the process was "not smart". It would never find anything, it was not thought out, it did not cover 99% of the 'bases', it was - in short - a waste of his time (just doing his job, I understand) and mine.

If it happened coming into the US - I would have written precisely the same write up. No worries there.

I've had three hard border crossings in my travels - in my many border crossings.

Two into Ottawa Canada, one into Dublin Ireland.

Both times in Ottawa - looking for stuff on my computer. In a way that would never actually find anything.

So - do you think it was worthwhile as a Canadian to do it?

Wed Mar 28, 06:19:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

They can legally take your laptop away if they want. As an American living abroad, I feel really horrible about all the finger printing, searching, and other privacy violations that foreigners undergo when entering the U.S. Be sure to vote for people that don't condone that idiocy.


Quoted:

"On July 24, 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided that US Customs and Border Patrol Officers had the right to search and seize a person’s laptop computer, computer discs and other electronic media."

Thu Mar 29, 05:05:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

As a further follow up...
Harden Border crossings into Canada have beem insisted upon and required by the US government to better connect relations between the two contries.

A crock of ..... but thats the way it is.

Sat Mar 31, 02:23:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

It must be noted that yes, Customs officers under the Customs Act have the authority to search your belongings, including your laptop. It is also law that all persons entering Canada must answer all questions truthfully.

I live in Ottawa, and I read the news that happens. Last year in 2006 Customs officials in Ottawa alone made 9 arrests for importing and possesion of child-pornography. From these arrests large rings and larger arrests have been made.

I myself have had my laptop searched on occasion. From someone who barely knew how to turn it on, to someone that was a computer whiz that whipped through my computer in no time. The young ones seem to know what they are doing. Apparently they are even trained on it. And trained on detecting child-pornography. This determination holds up in court. My experience at Ottawa is that if you have something to hide, avoid the young guys, if you have nothing to hide go through them. They are generally the most polite and know what they are doing.

It is not that pronography is prohibtied, it is that child-porn, bestiality, sex with pain and rape are. Good riddance. I am glad they are doing these searches, even though it can be an inconvenience. Maybe one day your clean cut neighbour will be picked up in Canada on child-porn charges. As one customs official stated to me once "There is no profile of child-pornographers, they are CEO's of company's to truckers and drug-addicts." Good point!

As for the person who was not allowed into Canada for a conviction 19 years ago, good. Maybe that conviction was rape or murder. I do not want that person coming into my country.

Thu Apr 05, 03:29:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I have no problem having the stuff looked at (personally).

I have a problem when the looking is done in a way so as to never really be able to discover anything (eg: a waste of time)....

Thu Apr 05, 03:33:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I have recently had to travel to Canada across the Ambassador Bridge for business. The first time over an attractive Canadian custom agent asked me "Why do YOU have to be there?" I felt like Forest Gump and wanted to reply "Because my boss told me to?" Just today after I responded to another agents question of where I was going he said "Buddy, are you going to give me more information or do I turn you over to immigration." After my surprised "What??", I did answer in more detail. I am afraid now of being detained for finding their rude behavior amusing...

Wed Apr 11, 11:21:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Economist said....

Although no one likss inconvenience, "I'm smarter than they are" is non-responsive to the core issue of border security.

Not all crooks get caught; nevertheless we manage to fill the jails.

Sun Apr 15, 02:54:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Eric said....

Long long ago, before Sept 11, 2001.......i.e., 1999:
There was a US Immigration program called "PassPort". The idea was to combine an issued card with some biometric data (a hand reader) and presumably some background check. I got one of these during some down time at SFO and decided to use it when re-entering the US from the UK, going through Toronto. Now the big airports in Canada have 'chunks' of extraterritorialized US so you can clear immigration and customs before boarding. I went up, presented my card (I was the only one there) and the system wouldn't work. In chatting with the US Immigration guy, who also apparently had some spare time, he said, "it does this every so often". He unlocked the cabinet and I could see the PC inside had blue-screened. I coached him through the restart (in safe mode) plus login, then a restart into normal NT. Keep in mind, about halfway through it turns out I'm running the keyboard with the guy looking over my shoulder!! It was not really a social engineering hack, I was an honest traveler trying to get back to California, but I must admit it crossed my mind that I could have been an Al-Qaeda dude.

Isn't security wonderful

Sun Apr 15, 03:56:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Canadian customs officals must be specially selected for stupidity and obstructiveness. A few years ago my wife and I crossed the US->Canada border within Glacier National Park - supposedly the world's first cross-national "national" park. We are UK citizens and were visiting Canada just for the afternoon (our luggage was in a hotel in the US) and did not expect to be held up for nearly an hour at the tiny border post, which badly messed up our visit to the Canadian half of the park.

My wife was so incensed that she has vowed never to visit Canada again (and she hasn't); I will never go there on holiday again.

So if you Canadians wonder why you have too few visitors from other countries - reform your customs and immigration service. They make the US customs and immigration service (who are bad enough) look like angels.

Mon Apr 16, 05:48:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Brad Eleven said....

What's very sad about this is that the people with the skills required to really search laptops at customs are needed elsewhere, e.g., to design, build, maintain, and troubleshoot important computer systems.

Further, if we decide to train lots of people on how to detect awful things, some percentage of them will use these skills to hide awful things.

Like every type of logical protection, there is an equal or superior avoidance of same.

Mon Apr 16, 11:18:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I can believe it. I am a former U.S. gov't employee that worked for a pre homeland security agency. I have my own private practice now and work on denied entry cases for Canadians at the U.S. border. You wouldn't believe some of the things that people do and tell me about their cases...and wonder why they're denied at the border

I had one client who said the U.S. border denied him entry because he was a drunk and only had a "couple of offenses"...(Assualt causing bodily harm 3 counts, fraud, thefts and 3 dui offenses) He's a big burly guy so during our first meeting, he's hissing about how the U.S. unfairly stereotypes people. He proceeeds to open his bag and pulls out two 6 packs of beer(it's 10am) and cracks one open and starts guzzling. So I protested and he very nicely apologized and cracks one open for me...I declined and got back to his case.

Or the time before I married my canadian wife and I went across the border with my suitcase packed in the back seat as well as bringing my filing cabinet across the border into Canada. So the Canadian officer sees my suitcase and filing cabinet and asks me:

him: "What's That"
me: "A suitcase"

him:"What's in it"
me: "clothes"

him: "What's that?"(pointing at my file cabinet)
me: " A file cabinet"

him: "What's in it?"
me: "files"

He looked perplex, scratched his hand and waved me through.

Or the time I purchased some jelly beans in Canada and went to the U.S. to check my mail box

When I returned to Canada, the Canadian officer demanded to know if I had purchased anything in the U.S. and I truthfully told her no.

So she saw the jellybeans next to me and demanded to know what they were and where I purchased them.

When i told her I got them at the Canadian duty free, she proceeded to scold me for a good five to ten minutes about not keeping the receipt for a $3.00 bag of jelly beans(and holding up the line for the people behind me).

Yikes...Thank god they never ask what I do for a living because I know that they'll take pleasure in trying to roast me because of my prior profession and knowledge about customs and immigration law and procedures

I think part of the problem with the Canadian side is that sometimes they hire young students to work the border and they have no clue what they're doing.

Tue Apr 17, 04:42:00 AM EDT  

Blogger m. said....

Pointless peasants. On the other hand, if they really wanted to scour your machine and crack you hidden encrypted partitions, you would have missed you plane :) Be glad they only employ morons.

Tue Apr 17, 09:02:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I had to go to Holland last thanksgiving break. Getting there was the most painless customs experience I've ever had, except for the TSA in Pittsburgh individually swabbing every single roll of film I had (roughly 200 rolls.)

Coming back was a different story. We ended up with a real ball buster of a question guy at Schipol.. The easiest thing to do was to detail every single place we went (including where we stopped to switch trains) and every Ollibollen we ate during the 4 days. After maybe 2 minutes of detailed descriptions of our trip, he finally had enough and waved us through. Everyone else that got that guy had a serious 5 minute interrogation.

They grabbed the bags of exposed film, looked at it a bit, and handed it back to us.

Back in the US, the only thing we were asked about is if we were bringing any food back (?).. After a quick comment about our thoughts on dutch food and a quick laugh, we were on our way. Not bad for a couple of unshaven 20-something guys who hadn't slept in over 24 hours.

Oh, they just jiggled the exposed film and swabbed one from each bag there. The middle-aged lady behind us with crackers in her purse was not so lucky and given serious grief.

The moral of the story is customs people are just people. Joke around with them, give them what they want, smile, and life is easy. I've had my computer snooped around on a bit.. Most everyone doesn't understand how a mac works so I just show them my digital portfolio and give them a card. It's not that bad, really.

Tue Apr 17, 01:44:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I wonder if this was the same guy that searched your laptop:

TORONTO-AREA MAN ARRESTED AT OTTAWA AIRPORT ON CHILD PORN CHARGES
A 26-year-old man from Thornhill, Ont., has been arrested at Ottawa's McDonald-Cartier International Airport on suspicion of possession of child pornography. Sai Man Tang was in transit from England and went through Boston to Ottawa, where Canada Border Services Agency officers referred him for a secondary examination on Sunday evening. Images of child pornography were allegedly found on his laptop computer when it was searched by agents. The laptop was seized and turned over to Ottawa police for further analysis. Tang faces charges of possession of child pornography and importation of child pornography. He's also charged under the Customs Act with failing to report goods, possession of prohibited material and smuggling. Chris Kealey, a spokesman for the Canada Border Services Agency, declined to comment on what originally caused them to suspect Tang. ''Typically, we don't reveal indicators,'' Kealey said. ''But there would have been something in his demeanour such as uneasiness or perhaps his documentation that would have made him suspicious.'' Tang, who has no prior charges, was expected to appear in court Tuesday.

Wed Apr 18, 11:53:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I had a similar situation last year when returning from Mexico by car with my laptop and some printable DVD's. Again, they were looking for porn. What I found hilarious was their complete confusion about the DVD's - they kept scratching the white inkjet printable surface to see if it was some sore of contraband drug... After all that (I have about 10gb of digital photos on my laptop), I pull out my thumb drive and say to them (the customs inspectors) "If I was smuggling pornography into the country, it wouldn't be on my laptop or on my DVD's. It would be on something like this, or an SD flash chip that I could hide in plain sight, or I would have simply encrypted it and posted it on the internet to retrieve later." Truly, our border patrol and customs personnel are poorly trained, and generally clueless about these sort of issues.

Fri Apr 20, 04:31:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

The previous poster makes the point all too obvious. The real issue is control and conditioning.

Other search 'vectors' will be added to the list of acceptable searches over the next few years...kiddie porn is only the first pretext (politically calculated to engender a visceral rather than logical response to get a 'law' passed) to establish legal precedent.

As for not holding the 'guy behind the desk' accountable...utter hogwash. For evil to occur, there must be willing accomplises to compell a free individual to obey. 'Just following orders' or 'just doing my job' wasn't acceptable 60-odd years ago...it sure as hell isn't acceptable today.

Thu Apr 26, 07:02:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom, funny situation -- glad you wrote about it -- but you have it wrong: it was only a waste of YOUR time, his time was not wasted at all, not one minute of it. He was doing what he was told to do and paid for it, maybe like what you do at work?

You are projecting onto his cluelessness that this is a waste of some sort, maybe you thought that this was not effective in his (stated) goal to root out pornography or something like that. Why would you believe that was his purpose? The purpose was what you and he experienced. Full stop. And, guess what-- this happens mucho ALOT in guvmint and business around the world, nothing new under the sun, e.g., see the roman empire.

Mon Apr 30, 10:01:00 PM EDT  

Blogger TrueCanadian said....

Have a great day, I hope to see you at www.canadachill.com one day. I'm sure you will be and till then take care.

Sun May 06, 04:57:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Harald said....

I went from Germany to Florida via Toronto on Air Canada together with my 9-year old son and my mom in fall 2003. When checking in to the connection flight from Toronto to Orlando, the security officer complained about what was obviously a child's water pistol in my son's baggage, and empty one, for starters. My son did not understand why the toy was taken away from him. My mom in turn had a drinking bottle half full of water, and nobody complained. I wondered what the difference was between a water pistol and a drinking bottle, technically speaking. Needless to say we got real drinking glasses (no plastic) and metal forks and knifes (no plastic) in a cafeteria _after_ the security check, and no other check before boarding the airplane. Pure imcompetence and a waste of effort if you ask me, and showing that "terrorists" (oh my we would have to duscuss the real meaning of the word, and its ambiguity) can gain a lot by investing little.

Wed May 09, 08:39:00 AM EDT  

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Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom,

Just out of curiosity - why was your entry into Dublin hard?

Tue May 29, 12:35:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

to get into Dublin, I cleared customs in Heathrow. The man behind the podium was on a power trip of some sort. Really liked giving people a hard time - didn't want to believe the very sleepy person in front of him was there to speak for a day and leaving right away...

So, he was questioning my motive for wanting to go to Ireland.

Tue May 29, 02:07:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

People... this is a story about the U.S. Customs agents, not the Canadian Customs agents.

Tue Jun 05, 01:35:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Lo'oris said....

@Mark Brady: rolling paper for tobacco and for joints is different. tobbacco one is shorter, while joint one is longer.

i hope police knows the difference!

moreover, often (but not always) with tobacco you also buy filters, which with joints you never use. But somebody do not use them even with tobacco.

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Anonymous Andrew said....

Funny stuff. I fly into Canada a fair amount but as a pilot, we don't go through the same line as everyone else. At least in Montreal anyway, they didn't give us the run-around. I guess I'll be careful about "My Pictures" from now on! ;)

Wed Jul 18, 08:42:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Its all about intimidation people. We sheep being told what to do i.e. Simon says jump and then jumping when the word is announced.
Its sad that two great country the US and Canada carry on like this.
Many of the individuals who become customs agents have no respect for citizens(can you say EGO!) and could care less about treating EVERYONE like a criminal.
None of these customs agents thinks with a microgram of common sense.
It seems to me on further observation they are a bunch of drones working off a central brainwave.
There is no dignity in them when they treat Americans and Canadians like potential criminals.
My respect for the customs gaents is nil. I have yet to see the American agents treat anyone with any kindness or even a welcoming smile and Im from the US. I will not deny the truth from myself!

Tue Jul 24, 01:43:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous rob said....

Tom,

Have you had this problem traveling to Europe? I have to go to Spain next month and conserned about bringing my vpn machine.

-Rob

Tue Jul 31, 10:29:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

No, I haven't - but that means *nothing*, I go to Canada a lot - only happened once.

Tue Jul 31, 06:58:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I travel extensively and the most security conscious customs officials are in India followed by Israel. Israeli customs officers are the biggest a*holes followed by the Americans. The Canadians have gotten worse over the years, especially since they know are allowed to carry guns.

Many of the questions and procedures customs officers ask & put you through are seemingly stupid. Who is going to say yes I have a gun? What they are looking for is your reaction to the question. Nervousness, avoiding looking at the customs officer etc.

It sounds like the customs officer checking your computer lacked computer knowledge. What they were looking for was child porn. Most likely your relaxedness or annoyance let them know you had nothing to hide. Obviously such a cursory search wouldn't turn anything up.

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I wonder how the pornography consumers are doing, now that the airline pornography smugglers are out of business. They're probably desperate, pornography can't be found nowhere else ...
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Anonymous Spin2Win said....

Recent news...

Someone traveling into the US was asked if he had kiddy-porn on his laptop. He answered "I'm not sure. It depends if my Temporary Internet folder was purged recently."

He was asked to enter his password on his laptop. He told the agent he'd forgotten it. They confiscated it, and found the hard drive was encrypted. He claimed to have forgotten the password, then later said that it was within his rights to not provide his password (self incrimination).

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=234246

So if you collect kiddy-porn, please don't encrypt your hard drive. We only want to help you.

Fri Jan 25, 10:19:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I like my privacy,

A few options pop into mind, as this is a serious breach of what I feel to be my 'mind' or the very least my personal ideas. For others that feel the need to protect their business ideas etc, I have a few suggestions.

For those of you using a laptop running windows, with work and or personal files you wish not to share. I suggest Truecrypt (www.truecrypt.org), a free solution to Full Disk Encryption (FDE). FDE can be setup to use AES encryption, making your laptop extremely safe. I do not however know what legal implications there are to saying “I forget” when asked for a password. (Please donate to this great project if you decide to use it, that is the best way to make sure it continues to exist)

Edit: it appears Customs has the right to ‘confiscate’ your laptop if you fail to provide the password, similar to their ability to confiscate your suitcase if they cannot open it. So I would suggest using Truecrypt to create a Hidden Volume, directions on the home page.

For those of you with smart phones, those running mobile windows, Sprite Software (www.spritesoftware.com [I am not affiliated with them, just use their product]) offers a combo of backup and wipe software. It allows you to backup your phone’s contents to a laptop (including any memory card in the phone), and wipe the phone of all data. The wipe function is designed for loss or theft of the phone, but would make a clean phone to walk though customs with. After customs the phone could be restored using the Sprite backup software.

For those of you carrying a laptop on travel for email etc, or those that do not want to leave traces on a computer there are a plethora of Linux live distributions available that will do what you need. I will recommend one in particular that I use, namely because it has TOR built into the distribution, and wipes all temp files before closing. It is called Incognito and the latest distribution can be found at LiveDistro.org, (http://www.livedistro.org/release-announcements/gnu/linux-releases/incognito-live-cd/usb-i686)

-author not related to any of the products/software listed here, I use them, and thought others might find them useful.

Fri Feb 15, 03:50:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

one thing i haven;t seen anyone mention yet.. porn isn't illegal in either country... why would they bother looking for it? and what would happen if they found it? they would have to lock you up in the airport itself because neither country would convict you. so it is an exercise in futility, i'm sure they just settled on looking for something many people will have on their systems unsecured (since it IS legal) so that they can justify all sorts of things they would like to do to everyone.

Sat Mar 22, 01:59:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

About 2.5 yrs ago, in early Dec., I (US citizen living in Europe) flew via London with BA into NYC (it was either JFK or NWK). At Immigration I was asked the first place I was staying (NYC, but I also indicated that on my entry form), then asked for how many days (about a week). Then I was asked where I was going to next, I answered Florida. I was then asked where I was staying, I told them which city. They then asked me for an address, I told them I didn't know the address as I was being picked up at the airport there by a friend. I was then asked how I can write this friend letters when I don't know their address, I answered that I mostly email or call but that I don't know the address by heart but have the address in my phone book in my luggage. Immigration actually then rejected my (US citizen!!) entry to the US, wrote something on ym form and sent me back to the airline I arrived with!!!!!

I was eventually granted entry to the US after the airline gave me another form to fill out and sent me to another immigration agent who barely glanced at me but welcomed me back to the US.

Tue Apr 08, 10:38:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Seems I need to add Canada to my list of countries I don't travel to.

Thu Apr 10, 06:40:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Kamil Wencel said....

Guys,

there is some minor issue I would like to address in this context because I've read it far to often in the comments to neglect it:

IT ALSO IS ONE'S PERSONAL FAULT.

A lot of people stated and restated all over again, that "It's not the custom official's fault. They were doing their job. They were doing what they were supposed to do."

Well, that is exactly what the germans did almost 70 years ago. They were just following their orders. That is how that fascist crap works. Today Germany is still blamed at whole, not just the fascist leaders.

Everyone on this planet is responsible for what happens. Even if he wouldn't object - he could just not follow through. And if he loses his job because of this - then it IS just the consequence of not doing something he didn't like anyways.

Fri Apr 11, 03:57:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Pierre said, "This is very bad. They will soon look for pirated software, illegally downloaded mp3, etc. "

It is beginning: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2023889/posts

Sat May 31, 11:20:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous oneplusone said....

"It must be noted that yes, Customs officers under the Customs Act have the authority to search your belongings, including your laptop. It is also law that all persons entering Canada must answer all questions truthfully.

I live in Ottawa, and I read the news that happens. Last year in 2006 Customs officials in Ottawa alone made 9 arrests for importing and possesion of child-pornography. From these arrests large rings and larger arrests have been made.

I myself have had my laptop searched on occasion. From someone who barely knew how to turn it on, to someone that was a computer whiz that whipped through my computer in no time. The young ones seem to know what they are doing. Apparently they are even trained on it. And trained on detecting child-pornography. This determination holds up in court. My experience at Ottawa is that if you have something to hide, avoid the young guys, if you have nothing to hide go through them. They are generally the most polite and know what they are doing.

It is not that pronography is prohibtied, it is that child-porn, bestiality, sex with pain and rape are. Good riddance. I am glad they are doing these searches, even though it can be an inconvenience. Maybe one day your clean cut neighbour will be picked up in Canada on child-porn charges.

As for the person who was not allowed into Canada for a conviction 19 years ago, good. Maybe that conviction was rape or murder. I do not want that person coming into my country."

You are a tool of the minders, dood. You suppose it's all OK without even explaining how cross-border travel is automatically related to child-porn. That is the key to why it's so damningly unjustifiable. Absolutely unbelievable.

This is yet another example of how the freedom that the imaginary Al-Quaeda wishes to relieve us all of, simply doesn't exist anymore. Make a note there were no Al-Quaeda lobbyists responsible for these fallacious legislations.And it was our own damn fault for being cowards and believing and regurgitating all their dodgy shock & awe.

Sun Jun 01, 11:26:00 AM EDT  

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Blogger evileconboy said....

I faced absolutely the same intense waste of time from Canadian border guards in Montana last week. They pulled me over for no particular reason and made me wait, despite having a perfectly valid passport, importing nothing, and answering all the questions "correctly." Meanwhile, people were waived through.

I honestly think they are doing it simply to make a point to Americans, or the American government. Canada is a whole different country and everything. They can waste our time as much as our border guards waste their time.

They never told me why I was being detained. I even opened my trunk for them. I was like look, can I go back to the land of the free and the home of the brave, because seeing Canada (and spending my money there) is not worth an hour of my time?

Thu Jun 26, 09:22:00 AM EDT  

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Anonymous Anonymous said....

Why would you have a "personal" laptop that you do your paid work on? If you do paid work on it, then it is your WORK laptop. Playing word games like this with the border people is a sure way to have your time wasted in just such a fashion. Glad to hear they called you on it.

If you use a "personal" pen for paid work, is that now a "WORK" pen? At my local Staples, some pens cost more than some laptops. Is a guy who prefers his Mont Blanc to the company-provided Bics playing word games when he says, "That's my personal pen. I use it mainly for work." A laptop is just another tool for doing work, and some people prefer to supply their own tools.

Tue Jul 15, 12:20:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Not all crooks get caught; nevertheless we manage to fill the jails.

I didn't know that was the goal...

Tue Jul 15, 12:28:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

my latest and LAST attempt to get into canada was a few days prior to new years eve 2008....i live in seattle so its really easy to drive up to vancouver, and ive done it many times. no problems besides the usual searches and interrogating. which is still lame but this last time we were stopped searched and 2 out of 5 of us were deported from the border of canada back to the states (???) all of the like 200 ft...i had just got back from portugal and the UK a week earlier...AND YOU GUYS WONT LET ME INTO CANADA??? reason: i recently had a hearing in seattle WHERE THE CASE WAS DISMISSED and no charges were filed...and remeber...ive been to montreal and vancouver numerous times after this fact. i just ran into the wrong customs agent on the wrong night...result- i am inadmissable into the second biggest country in the world for 15 years!
fuck that guy.

Fri Oct 31, 10:12:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous DissidentVoice said....

I live in a border city, and I have been crossing the border for the better part of 20 years. I have a valid US passport, no criminal record and have passed FBI/military security clearances.

My experience is that on the Canadian side, they tend to be more polite. However, recently they seem to be employing a lot of KIDS who don't know what the hell they're doing. A few months ago, I got pulled into secondary on the Canadian side for the first time since 1995. It was a KID that sent me. When the ADULT CBSA officers looked through my car, they had kind of an attitude of "why did you get pulled in?" and let me go in about 10 minutes.

I've got rude officers on the Canadian side, but comparatively very few.

However, it is coming back into the US that is a NIGHTMARE. A few months ago I got pulled into secondary for a "random" check. I was there for well over an hour. I had to leave my cell phone in the car and was herded like cattle into the very crowded border station. Being ex-military I'm used to "hurry up and wait" but this was ridiculous. Finally, they got around to me. They made a big deal over my having a Toronto newspaper and a bag of peanuts from the duty free (for my wife) - all of which I declared! They entered a load of stuff into a computer screen which I could not see. For the first time in my life, I had to fill out a customs declaration form for under $30 (CDN) worth of merchandise, all previously declared!

To be fair, they didn't mess my car up too much.

However, at more than one point I felt like saying, "the hell with it, if this is what it takes to get back into MY OWN COUNTRY that I SERVED IN UNIFORM, then just let me go back into Canada, where they at least treat me like a human being!" Of course, I didn't say it.

A British friend of mine resident in Canada will no longer come over to the US. He says, "I will not be treated like a bloody criminal - fingerprinted, etc. - just to satisfy George Bush!"

I am a member of both the ACLU and Amnesty International. I'm sure the current regime doesn't like that.

I see off-duty CBP agents quite frequently around town. Sometimes I feel like asking one what makes them do such stupid stuff, but I won't, as s/he will probably have a recording device of some kind and that will be entered into the vast amount of information the government already has on me...

REPEAL THE USA PATRIOT ACT, PRESIDENT OBAMA!

Sat Nov 22, 02:32:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Canadians were the rudest people I have ever come across. I'm actually not so angry at Mexicans coming into America now. They had NO idea what was going on and the girl at the next was a complete moron. I'll NEVER go into that country again.... and I was so confused why my friends wouldn't. They said the canadians were rude... AND THEY ARE!!! They were nasty... and it seemed like they were trying.... I'm a 21 female.... honestly..... do I look suspicious????? NOOO ... then try to charge me money and crap.... I hope they treat canadians trying to get into MY country with even more disrespect.... I HOPE they take their computers for a year... PLEASE DO! STAY IN CANADA!!! Cause I will DEFINITELY stay in amazing US from now on.... never will I go to this terrible/miserable/boring place again. I had no choice for this trip....

Thu Feb 26, 08:34:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I got a moron Canadian Customs Officer asking me, while searching my laptop bag:

officer: "Why do you have a mouse manual with you?"

Me: "to use the mouse". Thinking "how is that relevant to the search?"

Officer: "what is your contact number?"

Me: "I forgot but I have it saved in my phone."

Officer: "How come you do not know your cell phone number?!!!"

Me: "I DON'T CALL MYSELF?" At this point really want to bitch slap her because she made other dumb comments while "raping" through my stuff. I kept wondering how can we have such a moron protecting our borders? She was a clueless bafoon on a power trip!!

Tue Jul 14, 07:09:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Ole said....

I have no problem having the stuff looked at (personally).
I have a problem when the looking is done in a way so as to never really be able to discover anything (eg: a waste of time).

Fri Sep 04, 05:46:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

i doubt he was looking for pornography. he was testing you to see if you would clam up when he took the computer, and the pornography thing was probably him just covering up his own incompetence and at the same time testing you. they'll act like they're you're best friend, but that they are most utterly and completely NOT your friend.

Sun May 23, 11:53:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

For Australia, now you have to tell them about the porn you are carrying.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/21/2905424.htm

PS. Word verification is concon. Presumably a conference for convicts ?

Sun May 23, 06:35:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Don't doubt they are looking for porn in Canada beastiality is illegal. It also doesn't matter if a model is 18 if she looks to be under 18 you can be charged with child porn. This puts every asian woman under 35 in the looks younger that 18 catagory and it can cause you serious trouble. I know I'm currently living this hell with my husband for porn that is legal to have in the united states with models all over 18. By the way when they confiscated his computer it was over 2 years before he heard anything and he has never received his camera cell phone or any other electronics they took back from customs.

Thu May 19, 06:45:00 PM EDT  

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