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Wayne State University

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Sep 13 / Geoffrey Nathan

The Perils of Crossing the Border with an Electronic Device

This post is the first in a number of communications that various parts of the university will be sending out dealing with the dangers of traveling across an international border with an electronic device of any kind.

Recently there hasĀ  been some press coverage of the fact electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and even smartphones are at risk of being hacked in various ways when accessing wireless networks elsewhere in the world (a comprehensive article can be found in this New York Times article .)

Somewhat more alarming, however, is that this ability to seize your devices is now being used for what some might consider political purposes. A friend of, and advocate for Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning was apparently placed on a watch list, and, on returning from a vacation, had a number of electronic devices seized at the border. Within the US, of course, such seizures require a search warrant, but you abandon all 4th amendment rights within the national no-man’s land of the US customs hall (and the courts have several times upheld this fact).

Here are a couple of accounts of this story, that broke this past Tuesday can be found here:

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013/sep/10/new-details-how-feds-take-laptops-border/?breakingnews

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/09/manning-friend-database-stalked/

We are working on some guidelines to help WSU faculty and staff protect sensitive information while crossing borders (it turns out that this kind of vulnerability shows up while (re-)entering many other countries as well.

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