One Thing To Do Today: Border Control Advice Round Up

blonde border collie jumping over bar
Ozfozz via wikimedia commons

Lots of bad advice is getting floated around about border crossings, including creating weird partitions or fake lightweight logins. Sadly, as this 2011 EFF guide shows, border control overreach isn’t a new problem, but their is a new scope of ruthlessness. The social media password request is certainly a new wrinkle. Take this EFF quiz to see how your knowledge stacks up. As mentioned in the Jan 31st Tuesday sweep, the new pressures are damaging US based tech conferences and research institutions.

Wired has put out an article that seems to sum up the best advice, but that 2011 EFF article is MUCH more complete in terms of actual processes. (UPDATE: also New York Times, Ars Technica about your rights.)

The essentials:

  • Do not attempt to lie, deceive, obstruct or hassle a CPB official. Maintain your cool and be polite.
  • Have as little with you as possible in terms of number of items and what data they carry.
  • Biometrics are not protected by the 5th amendment the way passwords are.
  • Call someone (your lawyer?) before going into, and after leaving customs.

Not planning on traveling anytime soon? With the current political climate, those 200 million of us living inside the 100 mile border zone (set in 1953, btw) might need to consider following some of this advice on a more daily basis.

If you are hassled, document it the incident following this advice from the EFF.

These policies and practices of DHS/CBP must be chronicled and opposed.

Please tell us your border search stories. You can write to us at If you want to contact us securely via email, please use PGP/GPG. Or you can call us at +1-415-436-9333.

We also encourage you to contact your congressional representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives.

You may also contact the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties ( and the DHS Inspector General (


I make things that do stuff. The best, though, is teaching others to do the same. Founder of @crashspacela Alum of @ITP_NYU

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