[conspire] More on border searches, other measures

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed May 28 15:59:02 PDT 2008

has information on a leaked four-page Office of US Trade
Representative[1] memo on implementation of the proposed ACTA
(Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) treaty.  That treaty is said to be
under negotiation among US, Canadian, EU, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, New
Zealand, and Swiss jurisdictions.  The US Trade Representative office is
hoping to get the agreement finished and agreed to at the G-8 summit in
July 2008.

The four-page memo (first hyperlink below) was provided _only_ to
lobbyists for the major copyright and trademark barons, and not to the
public.  No actual proposed treaty text has yet emerged.

Border searches are only a minor aspect of the memo:  It includes:

o  attempt to criminise "non-profit facilitation of unauthorized
   information exchange" on the Internet -- e.g., leaks of embarrassing
   documents, etc.
o  new requirements on ISPs, including mandated disclosure of customer 
   information without warrants
o  a broad ban on "anti-circumvention" measures.

At the border:

o  ex-officio authority, e.g., no complaint by the allegedly infringed
   copyright or trademak holder will be required before seizing and/or 
   destroying your gear.
o  Authority to impose fines and awards of damages (apparently without 
   trial!) in addition to seizing and/or destroying your gear. 

Basically, the plan is to empower and encourage border agents to search 
all electronic storage in your possession.  It's quite possible that
customs agents are now getting equipment to bulk-read and duplicate all
data in your possession, inside...

o  cellular telephones
o  PDAs
o  laptop computers
o  digital cameras
o  CDs and DVDs
o  flash drives

...that are in your possession or checked luggage, when crossing
borders.  The data on whom you've called or is in your address books?  
They'll grab that.  Any MP3s?  Can you prove you paid for them 
_while at the airport_?  Any workfiles for your employer?  They'll 
grab those "for examination".  

Can you prove that the naked kid you accidentally caught in a corner of
the photo you took on the beach in Taiwan is over 18?  


Prudent travellers will probably be best advised to purge their cellular
telephones, PDAs, digital cameras, and flash drives of all data files
before international travel, and store any needed files in encrypted
datastores accessible from the Internet.  I really do mean it:  Get used to
doing it now, so you don't risk some insane criminal charge based on an
alleged "child pornography" photo in your Web browser cache, or
something like that, later -- not to mention unknown strangers grabbing
all of your personal data, and border officials confiscating your iPod,

See also:

[1] "US Trade Representative" is an Executive Branch appointee charged
with developing and recommending trade policy and negotiating trade
treaties on behalf of the President.  Current USTR is Bush-appointee
and Council on Foreign Relations member Susan C. Schwab of Maryland.

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