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Customs officials are failing to delete travelers' data after device searches

By midian182 · 17 replies
Dec 11, 2018
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  1. Over 787 million travelers entered the U.S. in 2016 and 2017, 47,400 of whom had their electronic devices subject to a search, including “advanced searches.” Unlike a basic search, which involves visually checking phones, laptops, etc. without downloading anything, advanced searches consist of downloading data onto USB drives and plugging them into CBP’s Automated Targeting System so it can be analyzed.

    According to an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report, many customs officials are failing to delete travelers’ information from these drives following an advanced search.

    [The Office of the Inspector General] physically inspected thumb drives at five ports of entry. At three of the five ports, we found thumb drives that contained information copied from past advanced searches, meaning the information had not been deleted after the searches were completed. Based on our physical inspection, as well as the lack of a written policy, it appears [Office of Field Operations] has not universally implemented the requirement to delete copied information, increasing the risk of unauthorized disclosure of travelers’ data should thumb drives be lost or stolen.

    Additionally, officers are supposed to sever external connections so they can only review data stored on a device, but this rule isn't being followed, either. There’s also mention of workers receiving “inadequate supervision,” and that some of the issues were the result of unclear or undocumented policies.

    As noted by Gizmodo, a lot of the report was redacted, including the reasons why an advanced search takes place and what happens afterwards. It’s also noted how U.S. Customs and Border Protection forgot to renew its license for the software it uses to conduct the advanced searches.

    The OIG adds that 67 percent of the electronic device search cases it looked at included insufficient or inaccurate information in officials' reports. It has recommended clarifying policies and increasing documentation requirements.

    Back in August, an American Muslim woman sued border officials after her iPhone was taken by agents and had its data copied.

    CBP says only 0.007 percent of international travelers were subject to a digital border search during the fiscal year 2017, up 0.002 percent from a year earlier.

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,400   +3,793

    It's certainly one thing to search, it's quite another to keep ..... which is simple theft. Now I'd like to see a far more detailed search of these agents and their practices to find how many of them are selling or giving away this information for a more questionable reason ......
     
    xxLCxx likes this.
  3. Bullwinkle M

    Bullwinkle M TS Booster Posts: 137   +72

    "CBP says only 0.007 percent of international travelers were subject to a digital border search during the fiscal year 2017"

    Well, that's not nearly as bad as Microsoft's Spyware Platform 10 doing a digital search of everything you are doing on your computer for 100% of you without even asking

    Today's story at Beta News is.....
    Windows 10 sends activity history to Microsoft even when told not to
     
    JaredTheDragon and BSim500 like this.
  4. xxLCxx

    xxLCxx TS Addict Posts: 231   +153

    “Lus primae noctis” — not quite there yet, but we’re certainly getting closer...
     
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  5. gusticles41

    gusticles41 TS Guru Posts: 405   +468

    .007%? I'm even more curious about how many of these searches result in any worthwhile findings that keep 'Murica safe. Hard to believe this is a fruitful process.
     
    xxLCxx likes this.
  6. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,214   +677

    If they keep a copy of my music collection, does that count as piracy? By our current IP standards, it would certainly seem so - the file was 'shared' without a license to do so.
     
  7. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +157

    Nothing like browsing your gathered collected data at the end of the day, searching for interesting data like nudes, porn, confidential documents, passwords, banking credentials and so on ... And at the end of the day, after reaching home, vent your frustration all over the internet about liberals, conservatives, random group of people, Chinese government being nosey about its citizens data ... oh wait
     
    toooooot, senketsu and xxLCxx like this.
  8. ZipperBoi

    ZipperBoi TS Member Posts: 21   +23

    Dont you have anything better to do then sit on this site and comment on EVERY article?
     
  9. Satish Mallya

    Satish Mallya TechSpot Staff Posts: 189   +174

    What was that?
    Carry a flash drive filled with every known type of malware when crossing a border?
     
    Right side bob, bob333, Godel and 2 others like this.
  10. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,008   +3,503

    Specifically one that infects all the network computers, forcing them to pull-up various forms of exotic banned adult content.
     
    Danny101 and Satish Mallya like this.
  11. Satish Mallya

    Satish Mallya TechSpot Staff Posts: 189   +174

    Or better - a crypto-locker benefiting the EFF
     
  12. PEnnn

    PEnnn TS Enthusiast Posts: 88   +83

    "It’s also noted how U.S. Customs and Border Protection forgot to renew its license for the software it uses to conduct the advanced searches."

    Software piracy too!!
     
    xxLCxx likes this.
  13. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +157

    They don't have the resources to do more, they are probably selecting the most suspicious cases. I bet you they do want to, just happens that it will cause huge delays at the border - like having to wait for days to enter US.
     
  14. xxLCxx

    xxLCxx TS Addict Posts: 231   +153

    You are very naive in thinking that. Be it the police forces, the military or your “border agents” — they are typically not the most educated people, to put it mildly. You can be certain that they (not all, some play fair of course) pick out people they like or don't like visually. If you happen to be female and you appeal to a male officer, you can be certain that he finds a way to spend more time with you. Likewise, if you look like someone (s)he hates (memories from old school-days, even), you're probably gonna get it.
    These are no unbiased angels. The border agents are normal people. Typically, they're not the most “levelheaded” ones. We had tons of cases where an agent asked a really dumb question and got a dumb answer in return. While it was clear to EVERYBODY that the answer could only be a joke (“Of course, I'm transporting a nuclear warhead in there.”), they often insisted on the pay-back (full alarm, prosecution and charges).
    Not few of them enjoy their power and the notion that the person opposite to them is completely at their mercy. The more power you give them, the worse it gets. Now they have the power to sniff in your undergarment and make copies of your most private files. This is beyond bad. All that's missing is the swastika.
     
  15. [QUOTE="xxLCxx, post: 1718477, member: 424268]...Be it the police forces, the military or your "border agents" --- they are typically not the most educated people, to put it mildly.[/QUOTE]
    veteran here, in Canada, every Officer in the Forces must have a university degree and it must be related to your trade (I.e. for Signals Officer, history degree won't cut it). Many of the non-com's had university degrees as well, including myself. I've been out 10 years on a medical release and even back then there were few people left that had joined in the days when Grade 10 would cut it.
    Thanks for painting us all as semi-morons with that broad brush..
     
  16. xxLCxx

    xxLCxx TS Addict Posts: 231   +153

    You are taking it personally, which is just the kind of “unprofessionalism” I was referring to.
     
  17. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +157

    veteran here, in Canada, every Officer in the Forces must have a university degree and it must be related to your trade (I.e. for Signals Officer, history degree won't cut it). Many of the non-com's had university degrees as well, including myself. I've been out 10 years on a medical release and even back then there were few people left that had joined in the days when Grade 10 would cut it.
    Thanks for painting us all as semi-morons with that broad brush..[/QUOTE]
    Maybe, I've heard that in US their border staff is really dumb tbh ... and makes a bit of sense, they struggle with basic things like medical assistance, I doubt customs sector benefits from a large enough budget.
     
  18. petert

    petert TS Evangelist Posts: 359   +157

    It doesn't matter - if you stop everybody to properly check their data at the border, it will take days to get in US, even with their staff number increased. It is a simple fact - they get around it by selecting the most suspicious fellows.
     

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