Getting through airport security is a bitch under the best of circumstances, but a gay traveler at London’s Gatwick airport was stopped by security because an officer suspected he “might be involved in pedophilia.” The agent’s proof? The man was HIV+, had a camera in his bag and was traveling with his boyfriend.
Someone call John Walsh!
“The passenger was stopped and asked routine questions about their trip. When the officer indicated they wished to search the baggage, the passenger requested that this be done in a more private place. This request and a further request on this issue were refused. The contents of the passenger’s bag were then openly displayed including photographic equipment.“The officer then commented to another officer that the passenger was HIV positive; the colleague then advised that the searching officer should use stronger hand gel. These comments were made within earshot of the passenger and indeed other passengers in the channel.
“When subsequently asked why this passenger had been stopped immediately after this interaction, the officer commented that the passenger ‘looked like he might be involved in paedophilia’ and then went on to say that ‘the presence of the camera and the fact he had a boyfriend confirmed this.’
Was the boyfriend 9 years old? Would a straight man with a lady friend and a camera be mistaken for Roman Polanski? Somehow we think not.
Source: Pink News via Unicorn Booty
Perverts…I mean the guards
And here we thought the TSA were asshats.
WHAT AN IDIOT. He probably lets pedos through all the time because he’s ill-informed. On the other hand someone that stupid is too funny!Hahahahaha
At least it’s nice to know that America’s airport Barney Fifes don’t have a monopoly on crazy. Still, the Brits have a lot of catching-up to do if they want to compete with the TSA.
Gatwick.. The only time I used that airport (a flight from Helsinki Finland to London UK)no one asked to see my passport or any other documents.. I just stood there with my passport in my hand for like 5 minutes and then decided to walk on in case I was mistaken in where the check in or such was and then I was out of the building thru the main doors..
This was in 2001 when both Finland and UK was both part of the Schengen, but still, no one even saying go on thru..
Not surprisingly, the border control staff have an indentured dislike of gay people traveling, having traveled with my other half from Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford and East Midlands and being stopped at each of them for no reason.
It also applies to ferry travel, particularly to Zebrugge, the staff in Hull are notorious for picking on gay travelers.
TBH, even if the guy HAD been involved in pedophilia, it was not the border guards’ job to detect it. I hope that the man was held accountable for his appalling behaviour.
@Neo: “ferry travel”
Um, how exactly did the agent know he was HIV+?
No. 10 · redcarpet · wrote, “Um, how exactly did the agent know he was HIV+?” Because the security bozo read a Focus on the Family blurb that claimed that pedophiles catch it from 9 year olds by engaging in receptive anal sex (receptive on the part of the pedophile).
The serious answer, of course, is that the agent probably saw some medication.
US customs is just as bad. Ive been stopped many times because im a young gay male traveling alone whos not a us citizen and recently had my laptop searched while i stood 2 feet away as they went through hundreds of photos including nude ones of myself. It was humiliating. There should have to be probable cause to search a laptop. I have no criminal record and i sure as hell dont look like a pedophile. I obviously contacted my lawyer after who informed me they can pretty much do whatever they want thanks to bush…
@jj: That’s a good reason to have locked and hidden folders on your laptop so that these nazis can’t arbitrarily invade your privacy under the guise of “terrorism prevention” or “stopping pedophilia”. I seriously think global society has been far more scareed by pedo-paranoia than by the actual actions of pedophiles.
And what the hell does a peophile look like? Sweeties for kids? Beady eyes? Drooling? Fat? Pasty faced? Or is that the average middle american politician…
No. 13 · KyleW wrote, “@jj: That’s a good reason to have locked and hidden folders on your laptop so that these nazis can’t arbitrarily invade your privacy under the guise of “terrorism prevention” or “stopping pedophilia”.”
Some operating systems (e.g., Linux) allow you to have all your personal files encrypted, but not the software. Use that, and set up an unencrypted “guest” account to let them log in, making sure it has no privileges so they can’t mess with your personal data or read it. The entry-level guy who looks at your computer probably won’t know what to do with a Linux system, so right off the bat they’ll have to call in someone who costs them more. You don’t have to give him your password, although they could keep the machine for a while, and if they have the NSA exhaustively search, assuming you have a decent password, the cost will be very high. I’d love to have them do that, only to find that the encrypted messages they spent so much effort on said things like, “can we get together for lunch at 12:30 instead of 12:15?”.
BTW, I once had a laptop along with me during the Bush regime. I set up a guest account just in case and made the password for it “f**kbush” (fill in the asterisks for what it obviously was). As it turns out, they didn’t have any interest in the machine, although I yelled at a security bozo when he tried to carry it by pinching it between his thumb and some fingers, oriented so that it could be easily dropped. They apparently didn’t give a damn about American citizens’ property. That sort of “security” alone would have cost Bush my vote!
@B: Interesting approach…. I’d go a different way, though. That they can’t make you give them your password is no guarantee they won’t ruin your day for not coughing it up, and if they *do* decide your machine is suspicious enough to have the NSA look at it, you won’t be getting it back anytime soon if ever. Meanwhile, most likely the most they’ll do if you’re cooperative is browse through your folders a bit. It seems to me, then, that the thing to do, knowing they *might* search the contents of your computer, is to leave anything embarrassing on an external drive at home or, if the content was created on the trip, either email it to yourself or burn it to disc and send it by mail.
People shouldn’t HAVE to do that sort of thing, but since we have the system we do and not all security folks have good sense, if it worries you and you know about it in advance so that you can prepare, *not* setting things up to antagonize them is probably the better approach.
(Though now you’ve got me wondering what would happen if I showed up with my computer as-is, entire hard drive encrypted, and they wanted in and I didn’t give the password. Somehow, though, I suspect my chances of their doing much beyond maybe checking that it works are slim; too many people travel with laptops for them to go through everybody’s files. And mine aren’t even all that interesting.)
@Hyhybt: I had a password on my computer and he asked for it. If i didnt give it to him they would’ve seized my laptop and i probably wouldnt have gotten it back for months. The first thing he did was go through my applications on my macbook and look for an encryption program, had i had one on it they would have seized my laptop. I used to encrypt my financial information on my old non mac laptop too.
Re No. 15 · Hyhybt – you may be concerned about snooping, not because you have something embarrassing on the computer, but because you have something valuable on it, like the source code for a software product that you are developing.
Re No 16 – I use encryption for a few files – e.g., so I have a copy of configuration info that include things like my email passwords.
It is not illegal to have encryption software. If they take your computer because you do, they should be required to compensate you for the lost of your property – that’s supposed to be a constitutional right we have, but we seem to be becoming more of a police state each year.
@jj: Which is pretty much what I was saying. I was disagreeing with those who seemed to think TSA’s running across encrypted folders would make them just give up and hand it back. (As far as I know, the only encryption program on my computer is FileVault, which as part of the OS I could hardly be expected to remove… and which won’t stop them anyway because I’ll readily hand over my password in those circumstances.)
@B: Which, if you need it on this trip or for any other reason still had it on your laptop, they would be vanishingly unlikely to know enough about to cause you any harm anyway. I was indeed responding mainly along the lines of the naked pictures mentioned upthread, and also not particularly thinking about the possibility of its being a business trip where you might be carrying work that needs to be secret, and for that I halfway apologize. But only halfway, because honestly, what are the chances that the security guy at the airport or the random handful of passengers who might conceivably otherwise get enough out of the incident to be useful even *cares* about your source code, much less would be able to do anything from a quick glance-through?
Also, your post seems to imply that I think it’s perfectly fine for them to go digging through people’s laptops on a whim. Why on earth you would have that impression when I’ve said nothing even hinting of any such thing and also have explicitly stated the opposite is beyond me. I’m just saying that encrypting folders would only make them more insistent on finding out what’s inside and likely deprive you of your laptop for a long while, at best. (At worst, you get arrested for whatever they call it when you’re uncooperative and you never see your laptop again.)
@B: No, it’s not… and I’m more than a little leaning to the side of that being an unfounded supposition on jj’s part that they’d seize it solely for containing an encryption program. Far more likely, they’d then look for encrypted *files* and make him open them.
But of course, there’s so little actual information available…
I’d be hard-pressed to bring my laptop at all nowadays. I’d either FedEx it ahead of me to my destination, or swap in a fresh hard drive with a bare Ubuntu installation and rely on cloud services or Remote Desktop for my business goings-on. (Plus scrub that drive within an inch of its life if my laptop ever left my sight.)
Of course, it isn’t like the TSA needs a reason to harass you, but if my laptop is going to be “liberated” and searched, I’d rather they come up with nothing than have my personal data available to the caprice of whatever grade-school dropout is running the show that day.
I recall reading that the egregious snooping was also to see if someone had music or movies that had been illegally acquired. The illegal music/movie search may not have gained traction because a border inspector certainly would not be in a position to make such a judgement with any accuracy. My travel laptop has a completely blank desktop – no shortcuts, no background photo, just plain black. Third time arriving at Ruzyne Airport Prague a border guard asked about the blank/black screen – I said I was not very technical , would he show me how to set it up, how to install a photo, he shook his head and said “Is not possible, too busy, please enjoy the visit”.
As I said in my original post, if you use a program such as Truecrypt, it can be used to encryot an enture partition without the partition appearing to be encrypted, so it’s less likely to raise suspicion. Unless you WANT to provoke them?
As for wasted time – it’s standard procedure simply to image the entire disk at a bios level, rather than keep the machine, but of course, if you are a visitor, it’s entirely possible that you might be detained. Doesn’t the US’s new terrorism act enable them to do so indefinitely without trial now?
In Europe, it has already been tested in court, and the rights of individuals to have encrypted files was upheld. A desire for privacy cannot be conflated as criminal activity EVEN when there is past history of said activity.
No. 19 · Hyhybt wrote, “But only halfway, because honestly, what are the chances that the security guy at the airport or the random handful of passengers who might conceivably otherwise get enough out of the incident to be useful even *cares* about your source code, much less would be able to do anything from a quick glance-through?”
But it would not be a “quick glance-through” if the laptop was stolen at some point on the trip, which is perhaps the major reason for needing encryption. If a crook realizes that there is something valuable there after stealing the laptop, what do you think would happen?
Regarding “Also, your post seems to imply that I think it’s perfectly fine for them to go digging through people’s laptops on a whim,” where did you get that impression? I was pointing out an important case you missed and the use of “you” in the other post was (hopefully obviously) in its impersonal sense, as a less formal alternative to “one”.
Re No: 20 “No, it’s not… and I’m more than a little leaning to the side of that being an unfounded supposition on jj’s part that they’d seize it solely for containing an encryption program. Far more likely, they’d then look for encrypted *files* and make him open them.”
They can’t legally make him open an encrypted file, if only due to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He could tell them to just copy the file and then try to decrypt it if they get a search warrant.
@B: Why I love FileVault. When I’m logged in and the computer is awake, everything is accessible, but a thief would still find it worthless data-wise.
Meanwhile, what’s theoretically legal and what you can be sure of getting away with on the spot are not necessarily the same things. I don’t see any reason a laptop would be treated with more respect in this sort of thing than a car, and while they can’t search your car without either your permission or a warrant*, they CAN hold you there on the side of the road until they GET a warrant. And even if they can’t get one, they’ve successfully robbed you of a large chunk of time.
*I’m not sure this is true anymore, but if not and constitution be damned by the judges who’ve allowed the change, then again, surely it would mean they wouldn’t need one for laptops either.
No. 25 · Hyhybt wrote, “*I’m not sure this is true anymore, but if not and constitution be damned by the judges who’ve allowed the change, then again, surely it would mean they wouldn’t need one for laptops either.”
Keep in mind that there is a difference between looking at your laptop’s files, copying some of those files, and keeping the laptop or damaging the laptop (including messing up the software). They certainly can’t compel you to give them a password.
I’d tell them point blank that there is no way in hell that I’d give them passwords that might imply access to my bank account, adding that there have been thefts of thousands of dollars by TSA agents and I sure as f___k wouldn’t trust any of them with my bank account.
But then, I have a tendency to tell people off if I’m being treated unfairly. While not by TSA, I’ve been treated outrageously on a few occasions and raised a big stink about it to the point where the person responsible really regretted it because it ended up putting that creep’s boss in an embarrassing position.
If some high-handed government employee treats you outrageously, complain to your congressman or congresswoman – its all handled by a staffer, but they love to pressure the bureaucracy on behalf of a constituent because they can charge the expense to the government and they figure it is an easy way of getting your vote, plus you may tell your friend about how helpful your congressperson was, which means even more votes and with no fund raising to get them.
I was treated outrageously on a couple of occasions by government officials and used that technique. It works. In one case, someone told me that the guy’s boss was holding his head and saying, “and now we have a congressional investigation” – and its not only what I complained about but what else they might find out! Think about how that will go over when the guy’s performance review gets written. Heard that one of these officials really was a total asshole – others told me how bad he was and he apparently had a pedophilia problem as well and ended up in the slammer, although I didn’t have a clue at the time.
I don’t understand why this conversation has degenerated into a conversation about how to confront these people and about how much time you’re pepared to waste. Surely the best solution is the one that hides your data without even making it appear that data is hidden? Then you grant them reasonable access appeariong to be fully compliant. They snoop for 10 minutes, find nothing but random data on an unused partition or file, and then you’re on your way. If you keep Truecrypt on a skydrive which you download as needed then nobody can ever tell that you’re even using it.
I was being treated for cancer (…already not in a good mood….imagine that…) and the TSA screener tried to tell me that I’d have to check my cancer medication, despite the fact that it was labeled in my name from the pharmacy and that all such medication is exempt from the banned liquids limits. I had even anticipated this and printed the page from TSA’s own website explaining this.
Two different agents insisted they were right. I was unfailingly polite at first, I just asked them to get a supervisor. It wasn’t until I told them that I’d call the local news stations and they could explain on camera why they wanted to take a cancer patient’s medication that they called a supervisor, who rolled his eyes at them and told them that of course I was right.
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