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Sun Feb 12, 2017, 03:54 PM

A US-born NASA scientist was detained at the border until he unlocked his phone

Two weeks ago, Sidd Bikkannavar flew back into the United States after spending a few weeks abroad in South America. An employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Bikkannavar had been on a personal trip, pursuing his hobby of racing solar-powered cars. He had recently joined a Chilean team, and spent the last weeks of January at a race in Patagonia.

Bikkannavar is a seasoned international traveller — but his return home to the US this time around was anything but routine. Bikkannavar left for South America on January 15th, under the Obama Administration. He flew back from Santiago, Chile to the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas on Monday, January 30th, just over a week into the Trump Administration.

Bikkannavar says he was detained by US Customs and Border Patrol and pressured to give the CBP agents his phone and access PIN. Since the phone was issued by NASA, it may have contained sensitive material that wasn’t supposed to be shared. Bikkannavar’s phone was returned to him after it was searched by CBP, but he doesn’t know exactly what information officials might have taken from the device.

The JPL scientist returned to the US four days after the signing of a sweeping and controversial Executive Order on travel into the country. The travel ban caused chaos at airports across the United States, as people with visas and green cards found themselves detained, or facing deportation. Within days of its signing, the travel order was stayed, but not before more than 60,000 visas were revoked, according to the US State Department.



http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/12/14583124/nasa-sidd-bikkannavar-detained-cbp-phone-search-trump-travel-ban

43 replies, 4154 views

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Reply A US-born NASA scientist was detained at the border until he unlocked his phone (Original post)
herding cats Feb 2017 OP
n2doc Feb 2017 #1
NurseJackie Feb 2017 #9
Moostache Feb 2017 #2
JDC Feb 2017 #4
mn9driver Feb 2017 #13
Duppers Feb 2017 #3
True Dough Feb 2017 #38
Bernardo de La Paz Feb 2017 #5
mainer Feb 2017 #12
Bernardo de La Paz Feb 2017 #15
TNNurse Feb 2017 #18
Bernardo de La Paz Feb 2017 #21
herding cats Feb 2017 #27
NotThisTime Feb 2017 #16
Bernardo de La Paz Feb 2017 #19
SunSeeker Feb 2017 #25
adigal Feb 2017 #35
defacto7 Feb 2017 #23
drray23 Feb 2017 #31
lpbk2713 Feb 2017 #6
Hulk Feb 2017 #7
Retrograde Feb 2017 #17
Hulk Feb 2017 #42
etherealtruth Feb 2017 #8
manicraven Feb 2017 #26
etherealtruth Feb 2017 #32
Lonestarblue Feb 2017 #10
ManiacJoe Feb 2017 #33
fescuerescue Feb 2017 #40
IronLionZion Feb 2017 #11
VMA131Marine Feb 2017 #14
herding cats Feb 2017 #22
Fast Walker 52 Feb 2017 #24
herding cats Feb 2017 #28
Lee-Lee Feb 2017 #37
Fast Walker 52 Feb 2017 #43
fescuerescue Feb 2017 #41
Fast Walker 52 Feb 2017 #20
Jim Beard Feb 2017 #29
LiberalArkie Feb 2017 #30
CanonRay Feb 2017 #34
mainer Feb 2017 #36
fescuerescue Feb 2017 #39

Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 04:13 PM

1. Papers, please! Show me your Papers! n/t

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Response to n2doc (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:38 PM

9. I had the exact same thought as you did ...

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:06 PM

2. The "ban" and Trump are bad enough...

But what fucking rock did these TSA agents crawl out from under? Was this a policy or a license to discriminate and openly hate brown people? Racist sons of bitches...its like they all decided to come out en masse now...at least we will able to identify them for the trials if the time ever comes...

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Response to Moostache (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:15 PM

4. You are talking about a group that pounces on a TCBY yogurt

bought 3 feet from the checkpoint line entrance. I travel weekly and some of the idiots I encounter couldn't secure a paper bag.

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Response to Moostache (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:44 PM

13. Not TSA. Customs and Immigration.

TSA airport security is a very different animal than the Customs and Immigration people. I've seen Customs detain and fine US citizens hundreds of dollars because they forgot about an apple or a sandwich in their bag.

Not exaggerating.

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:08 PM

3. Damn!

Idiot CBP agents hate dark skin and odd names.

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Response to Duppers (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 02:15 AM

38. Addressed on SNL last night

"Uh oh, it's Moana!"

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:17 PM

5. It's disgusting to treat US citizens this way, but if the phone info is sensitive, then he shouldn't

If the information on the phone is sensitive then he shouldn't take it out of the country in the first place. It seems a bit daft that he did.

It is much to easy to lose a phone or have it stolen or have it confiscated by other country's border agents or "borrowed" by them.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:44 PM

12. It says he needed his phone in case problems came up at work.

It's the only reason he brought it with him.

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Response to mainer (Reply #12)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:48 PM

15. Then bring a secure phone or a second clean phone or wipe the phone of sensitive information. Duh!

It's not rocket science to figure this out; to figure out how to protect rocket science.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #15)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:54 PM

18. He had a passport.

He should not need anything else. His phone should not have been a concern. The JPL and NASA need to raise hell.

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Response to TNNurse (Reply #18)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:59 PM

21. The US is allowed by law to demand passwords for phones / tablets / laptops.

I think it can also keep the devices while downloading the info forensically if the citizen "forgot" their password.

I'm not 100% certain, but I remember reading an article on this issue by a lawyer with expertise in the area.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #21)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:19 PM

27. True, but the have to have a reason other than race or country of origin.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/12/law-enforcement-uses-border-search-exception-fourth-amendment-loophole

Which is what makes that excuse a somewhat iffy here.

We'll see where this goes, but right now it's not clear it was even legal.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:52 PM

16. You make a point, however, almost nobody leaves the country without their work phone, nobody

actually takes a vacation where they're not expected to bring the company phone in order to work at least some hours. A case could be made he should have never given up the pin and told the losers that apprehended him to call his boss at NASA for the pin....

But regardless that he had THAT phone, border patrol held someone who was born here for 4 hours while interviewing. Did he break a law? Where were they going to send him if he didn't give up the phone? This has terrible implications. Stories like this are why Americans are a bit worried about traveling abroad.

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Response to NotThisTime (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:56 PM

19. People really need to push back on calls after they've left work, esp. vacation.

There are special cases where one person is a repository of expertise and/or knowledge, but if that is the case, then the company / management has failed to adequately spread knowledge. Single sources of expertise die in car crashes or heart attacks. It's way too much risk for a company.

If a company is tiny, then yeah, it's probably too small to diversify expertise, but NASA is not too small and not unprofessional (generally).

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Response to NotThisTime (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:14 PM

25. Exactly. This appears to be a violation of the 4th Amendment.

This was an unreasonable and unwarranted search and seizure.

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Response to NotThisTime (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 08:17 PM

35. Can people mail their work phones home and keep an innocuous one with them?

 

Or send data to NASA before leaving then delete off phone.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #5)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:02 PM

23. It's really not difficult

to get a temporary phone in most counties. Unfortunately, that's the rule for me now. It's the laptops that are a drag, but I keep the operating sys and files on an encrypted thumb drive and leave the laptop with an unused system on it. If it's really important, I send thumb drive rather than carry it. Nothing for me is that important but just practicing anonymity is worth it.

Freedom isn't as easy asit used to be.

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Response to defacto7 (Reply #23)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:44 PM

31. Thats what i do as well.

I have a usb stick with tails on it and an encrypted storage area. When I travel for work I use a mac laptop for the trip. Its wiped out on arrival when i return to the us. They are configured to not have network capabilities when you land back in the us. I also carry an official letter stating its a government computer (department of energy). Customs can not ask me to log into it. If they want to, they are supposed to call the doe counterintelligence office.





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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:22 PM

6. The hate is getting to be out of control.




These people are taking their jobs, their power and themselves way too seriously.

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:27 PM

7. Houston International Airport would be...

..the No. 1 Nazi center for Hair Gropenfurher's fascist thugs.

It is by far, in my travel experiences, the most offensive right wing pocket of thug TSA and Border Patrol Police in the country. I have had at least a half dozen unpleasant and sometimes most offensive experiences with their thug mentality deplorables.

Houston Airport has a Fox Store in the airport as well as fox propaganda pumping through their tv's throughout the airport. A truly sick airport I refuse to fly through when returning from outside the country. A Nazi's wet dream.

Deplorable. NO exaggeration or sarcasm in my account...never again for this international traveller. I have numerous personal stories I could share to back this up with.

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Response to Hulk (Reply #7)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:54 PM

17. It's also the most inefficient TSA I've ever encountered

Two years ago after clearing customs on an international flight it took over two hours to get through the TSA line, since they only had one screening area in operation when several large international flights were scheduled to land. Fortunately my connecting flight was delayed by 3 hours.

Newark, by contrast, I found extremely organized and staffed by friendly people, both TSA and airline employees.

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Response to Retrograde (Reply #17)

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 02:52 AM

42. Short story...

I mentioned I wasn't going to give details...but one story goes along with your experience precisely.

I returned from Mexico with my mother-in-law, who has visited us numerous times over the past few years. A wonderful, meek little elderly lady. She speaks only a few words of English.

After we departed the plane from Mexico City in Houston, we were funneled into a line TWO AND ONE HALF HOURS LONG....filled with foreigners - I'm guessing most had a connecting flight. I was appalled. I asked if there was any way we could be moved up to the front of the line, as we were about to miss our connecting flight to PDX. (There were probably half a dozen Border Patrol employees sitting in chairs with no passengers passing through on the other side for the US Citizens.) The rude employee simple snarked back at me, "you'll get a rescheduled flight, don't worry". I was so pissed.

We did miss our flight. A half hour later it was our turn to go through immigration, and they did the usual questions, finger printing, picture taking...and then told ME to wait out side, and my mother-in-law was to go with this jack ass with a gun and holster as he swaggered off to lead her to a room where they were going to ask her further questions about her stays with us. For another hour I had to wait outside while they asked her some silly ass questions that they had already asked her at the desk when we went through immigration. I was livid!

Yes...they rescheduled our flight...for the next morning. United gave us a voucher for a room for $50, and we got two separate rooms ($100) for the night and ate at a local pancake restaurant that had little else to eat but pancakes, but it was the only eatery in the neighborhood of the motel.

This is just one story. I have a dozen of them, and many are more horrific. Every time I've gone through that airport I've had to deal with rude and insulting personnel from the government to the employees of the airlines. It's infuriating. I've been told to "Get your luggage out of that wheelchair (that was sitting idly by the wall)....that's MY wheelchair"...when in fact it wasn't theirs. (I was toting a heavy backpack through the customs and immigration lines, and wanted to rest it off my back for the 20-50 feet I could spare myself the weight. They were just being rude and throwing their weight around.

I hate that airport, and I'll avoid it at all costs. I'm sure there are some good people in Houston, but there are more red neck, rude, "chip on their shoulder" people in that airport than I've ever met in my life in all of my 50 years of international travel....and I've done quite a lot of travel.

Disgraceful. It's like there must be some sort of a contest to see just how rude and nasty you can be to travelers passing through. Just disgraceful. I used to tell my friends about my adventures through there, as I've made the mistake of flying from Mexico City to PDX maybe a dozen times, and every time I've been able to expect to be treated like trash. There was ONE time I made it through without being insulted or put down....ONCE.

That's no joke. I've heard others complain about that inhospitable manners of the people who work in the Houston Airport. Really the cesspool of airports, in my opinion.

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:32 PM

8. When they find (going through my social media accounts) that I despise 45

... with every fiber of my being ... then what?

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Response to etherealtruth (Reply #8)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:17 PM

26. I was wondering the same thing. I'm US born but loathe tRump... Would I be banned?

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Response to manicraven (Reply #26)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 07:12 PM

32. My ancestors came to this continent from the Scottish Highlands and Ireland

... in the 1770's .... I am nervous too

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:38 PM

10. Is this legal?

If the FBI could not force Apple to open the phone of the San Bernardino shooter, how is it legal for customs/border agent to require a U.S. citizen with a U.S. passport to open a phone without a warrant to search for specific information? If this is illegal, someone should sue to establish a precedent and clear the way for travelers to refuse.

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Response to Lonestarblue (Reply #10)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 07:38 PM

33. Usually not legal.

The CBP are allowed to do inspections for customs and immigration purposes only.
All other law enforcement purposes requires warrants signed by judges.

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Response to Lonestarblue (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 02:26 AM

40. 100% legal

It's not a new thing, been happening for a long time.

Here's an article on it from 2011 & 2008, but it's been happening much longer than that.

https://www.eff.org/wp/defending-privacy-us-border-guide-travelers-carrying-digital-devices
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/06/AR2008020604763.html

I starting running into this around 2005.

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:42 PM

11. Racists have been saying bad things were done by US born citizens

so being born in the USA doesn't help against white supremacy, not with a name like Sidd Bikkannavar.

I get detained coming back to America for different reasons. Having a suspiciously American accent to go with my "real looking" fake documents and my very American Presidential name. Seriously, it looks like I went through a history book and selected names of our most famous presidents to use as my alias. I am not looking forward to flying into Houston next month. FML

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:47 PM

14. It's been legal for CBP to go through files on electronic devices for a while.

My company prefers that we check out a clean laptop when travelling overseas rather than take our regular devices for just this reason.

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Response to VMA131Marine (Reply #14)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:01 PM

22. True, but it's not legal to do it for the purpose of race or national origin.

Which makes this search highly questionable.

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Response to VMA131Marine (Reply #14)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:07 PM

24. so they don't need cause at all?

 

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Reply #24)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:25 PM

28. They do need a reason.

The Supreme Court made clear, however, that a warrantless and suspicionless search must be for a discrete public interest purpose. Should a search instead be for the purpose of ordinary law enforcement, the government must first secure a probable cause warrant. For example, the government may set up a warrantless and suspicionless vehicle checkpoint to find drunk drivers for the narrow purpose of roadway safety (notwithstanding the fact that drunk drivers may be arrested and prosecuted)—but the government may not set up a warrantless and suspicionless vehicle checkpoint to find illegal narcotics, which amounts to uncovering “evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.”

Thus the Supreme Court created the border search exception only for the narrow purposes of enforcing the immigration and customs laws, including ensuring that duties are paid on imported goods and that harmful people (e.g., terrorists) and harmful goods such as weapons, drugs, and infested agricultural products do not enter the country.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/12/law-enforcement-uses-border-search-exception-fourth-amendment-loophole


And, a persons race is not a valid reason.

Q: If I am entering the U.S. with valid travel papers, can law enforcement officers stop and search me?
A: Yes. Customs officers have the right to stop, detain and search any person or item. But officers cannot select you for a personal search based on your race, gender, religious or ethnic background. If you are a non-citizen, you should carry your green card or other valid immigration status documents at all times.

https://www.aclu.org/files/kyr/kyr_english_5.pdf

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Response to herding cats (Reply #28)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 08:32 PM

37. The justification is they are ensuring illegal files are not brought in

 

This it fits the exemption for "customs purposes".

The most commonly found files are child pornography, that shows up shockingly more often than you would think. Pedophiles like to travel overseas to indulge or even to download their materials where they think there is less chance of getting busted.

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Response to herding cats (Reply #28)

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 07:56 AM

43. thanks-- but can you ask them why you were selected for searching and do they have to answer?

 

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Response to Fast Walker 52 (Reply #24)

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 02:28 AM

41. Any flimsy cause will do.

even a hunch.

There is very little 4th amendment protection when crossing the border.

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 05:58 PM

20. funny name and I bet he's brown skinned-- clearly suspicious

 

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:29 PM

29. Just curious, what is Houston Hobby like? Also, I despise going anywhere and being forced

 

to watch CNNIf I have the option, I never go back and lie about their company.

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 06:42 PM

30. Someone wanted the contents of his phone. No one ever searched him or his bags.

Commonly called industrial spying.

Seemingly, Bikkannavar’s reentry into the country should not have raised any flags. Not only is he a natural-born US citizen, but he’s also enrolled in Global Entry — a program through CBP that allows individuals who have undergone background checks to have expedited entry into the country. He hasn’t visited the countries listed in the immigration ban and he has worked at JPL — a major center at a US federal agency — for 10 years. There, he works on “wavefront sensing and control,” a type of optics technology that will be used on the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 08:16 PM

34. Of course he was detained

There's too many letters in his name

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Sun Feb 12, 2017, 08:19 PM

36. How do we know these CPB agents aren't selling proprietary info?

They demand access to int'l businessmen's laptops and cell phones. They sell info to the highest bidder. Or to foreign spy agencies. These are low-level gov't employees who need money.

It's frightening if you're a scientist or engineer or inventor.

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Response to herding cats (Original post)

Mon Feb 13, 2017, 02:25 AM

39. Unfortunately this is legal and has been going on for a long time.


I'm trying to remember when this first started, I want to say around 2005, but I'm not positive.

Anyway, when it started, my company gave us instructions on how to work through the request for pin/password etc.

Bottom line, if it occurs at the border and you are entering the US, 4th amendment laws don't apply and the courts have sadly upheld this.

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