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'Shrouded in Secrecy': ACLU Wants Answers on TSA's Growing Practice of Searching Phones, Laptops, and Tablets


'Shrouded in Secrecy': ACLU Wants Answers on TSA's Growing Practice of Searching Phones, Laptops, and Tablets

Julia Conley, staff writer

Civil liberty defenders are raising alarm over the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) increasingly common searches of domestic travelers' personal electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, and cell phones.


I always loved the 4th amendment because it was worded so beautifully unambiguous. It is such a fundamental principle of a free society and one I once thought, was what made us different then all the “bad” countries in the world.

I still see the beauty of the language and understand more then ever the importance of it’s message since it is now gone. Such a fundamental freedom gone…and nobody ever talks about it. Seems like virtually all of our constitutional protections are now gone. Replaced, or avoided…twisted or maligned to the point of absurdity. The tragic absurdity of the ascendancy of the deep state. They know what you eat, when you eat, where you work, what you buy, who your friends are…they know your medical history and your political leanings, they know your weaknesses and your desires, they fucking know what you are going to do, before you yourself know what you are going to do. And we accept it and pretend we still live in a free country. The only thing I see free in this country is the right to die homeless in the street with nothing to show you ever lived in the first place. While the corporate fascists control and dominate the financial sectors of our society, the deep state has grown into a monster of it’s own. Whatever hopes or dreams of a better tomorrow seem at this point, nothing but a fantasy to occupy so as to pretend reality isn’t here right now today.


To Spencer’s Gifts: I suggest developing a faux laptop that emits a skunk scent when fondled by
TSA personnel. Faux phones would be fun, too.


“Collect it all.” --former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander


They actually have time to search electronic data?
TSA inspections are usually a state of frantic activity. How many people will miss their planes while TSA does their " prohibited unreasonable search and seizure".
Are they going to copy data too; as well as perusing your files?


Brilliantly stated. You are right. It’s akin to the analogy of the boiling frog, the changes/reductions in our freedoms have been steady but so gradual that most of us just got used to it until it is now too late to really do anything - they are now just the status quo. Hell, for most young Americans born in the mid-late 90’s and after, this is “normal” to them. They don’t remember a time when there was no NSA eavesdropping on every single communication. So they don’t question it, why would they?

How can you miss a freedom you never had to begin with? Sad.


I don’t fly very often (I despise it to the point where I would rather roll around naked on carpet tacks and then take a bath in rubbing alcohol), but on the very rare occasions when I do, I will NEVER allow a TSA goon to search my electronics. The next time is in May, when my company is forcing me to go to a conference 800 miles away. If a TSA agent asks me to unlock my phone/iPad, I will be telling them “nope.” Should be interesting to see if I will be detained and forced to cancel my flight. I certainly hope so.


Get someone to film the whole encounter, then give it to someone like “Vice” news. Better yet, just call Vice News and see if they’d like to do an investigative piece on this.

You might become famous.


lol excellent idea. :slight_smile:


Gestapo, KGB, STASI, you name 'em, they’re all the same. TSA == the same. Because they can. And we, collectively, let them.


There quite the contrast between the stand of the Constituionalists on the “Intent of the founding fathers” when it comes to guns and when it comes to the 4th amendment is there not?

The State claims that the 4th amendment does not apply to digital communications because the specific words only mentioned personal papers and writings and that the phone and digital means of communications did not yet exist. The States stand in the USA on the 4th amendment is in fact one totally made by the Courts and having nothing to do with “intent”. There were no cell phone communications in 1776 so by the Courts interpretation , there no Constitutional right to be protected from the State when such are eavesdropped on.

Now apply the same reasoning to the 2nd Amendment and all the arms a Citizen has he “right to bear” are muskets IF there were to be consistency yet the range of weapons the 2nd is said guarantee as a “right” far exceeds that and again the SCOPE is one that is totally up to the interpretation of the Supreme Court who , as Political hacks and servants of the 1 percent , can make it mean whatever they wish and whatever churns the most profits for the 1 percent ruling class.

The reality is that the Constitution as written is simply a way by which that 1 percent cements its political and financial power. That 1 percent from founding has never really saw its power threatened in spite of the smaller victores the people might have won under it. I really believe that in order to progress as a society in the USA,that thing needs a rewrite .


The unspoken question is who will rewrite it? I’m reminded again of the four fundamental questions of politics, as enumerated by William Greider:

Who benefits?
Who pays?
Who must be listened to?
Who can be safely ignored?

My guess is that when that Constitutional Convention is held, public input will be kept at a minimum.


Solution is to stop using commercial air travel - make a statement about privacy and the climate at the same time, a double bonus.


These are mostly not the domestic airport security checks - although they probably pull people aside for more through checks. These searches are mostly being done by customs for international flights and at the Canada or Mexico border crossings. Pretty much anyone who is middle-eastern looking gets subjected to it. Don’t be seen with any leftist literature either. My brother once got hassled coming into the US via Greyhound from Canada because he had a copy of Lenin’s “Imperialism - the highest Stage of Capitalism”.

A middle eastern acquaintance keeps a separate smartphone with minimal data on it for international travel.


Oh no doubt that same 1 percent would demand they have the only input into such a thing if it came to pass. The reality is only a handful of Countries have Constitutions that were written with the broad input of the people (And Canada not one of them) AND when such instances do occur , the 1 percent both in that Country and in other Countries collude to ensure that the country becomes a “failed State”.

If they do not make it happen via sanctions and economic means, they send in assassins or fund groups to destabilize those Countries and if that does not work, the Military sent in to fight things like “terrorism” or to bring those people “freedom and liberty”.


I was traveling for my job last month. Got the random TSA pre-check designation but as I went through was stopped and they asked for my phone. No explanation but since I didn’t want to be arrested and incarcerated, i.e. “disappeared” I meekly complied. What the f—?


Google “hard reset” for the make and model of your phone. Follow those directions before crossing border and everything on your phone will be erased.
Backup photos and addresses before you leave home.
Hand them an empty phone.
I think you can do the same for laptops.