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Never Fly Internationally with Your Personal Phone

I always fly internationally with a burner phone, no need to risk my personal data when I can’t even use my phone anyway.

Here is a scary story in Trump’s America.

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I always fly internationally with a burner phone, no need to risk my personal data when I can’t even use my phone anyway.

Here is a scary story in Trump’s America.

On January 30th, Sidd Bikkannavar, a US-born scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory flew back to Houston, Texas from Santiago, Chile.

On his way through the airport, Customs and Border Patrol agents pulled him aside. They searched him, then detained him in a room with a bunch of other people sleeping in cots. They eventually returned and said they’d release him if he told them the password to unlock his phone.

Bikkannavar explained that the phone belonged to NASA and had sensitive information on it, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. He eventually yielded and unlocked his phone. The agents left with his phone. Half an hour later, they returned, handed him his phone, and released him.

We’re going to discuss the legality of all of this, and what likely happened during that 30 minutes where Bikkannavar’s phone was unlocked and outside of his possession.

 

But before we do, take a moment to think about all the apps you have on your phone. Email? Facebook? Dropbox? Your browser? Signal? The history of everything you’ve ever done — everything you’ve ever searched, and everything you’ve ever said to anyone — is right there in those apps.

“We should treat personal electronic data with the same care and respect as weapons-grade plutoniumit is dangerous, long-lasting and once it has leaked there’s no getting it back.”Cory Doctorow

How many potentially incriminating things do you have lying around your home? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably zero. And yet police would need to go before a judge and establish probable cause before they could get a warrant to search your home.

What we’re seeing now is that anyone can be grabbed on their way through customs and forced to hand over the full contents of their digital life.

Companies like Elcomsoft make “forensic software” that can suck down all your photos, contacts — even passwords for your email and social media accounts — in a matter of minutes. Their customers include the police forces of various countries, militaries, and private security forces. They can use these tools to permanently archive everything there is to know about you. All they need is your unlocked phone.

“If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.” — Cardinal Richelieu in 1641

What’s the worst thing that could happen if the Customs and Border Patrol succeed in getting a hold of your unlocked phone? Well…

  • Think of all of the people you’ve ever called or emailed, and all the people you’re connected with on Facebook and LinkedIn. What are the chances that one of them has committed a serious crime, or will do so in the future?
  • Have you ever taken a photo at a protest, bought a controversial book on Amazon, or vented about an encounter with a police officer to a loved one? That information is now part of your permanent record, and could be dragged out as evidence against you if you ever end up in court.
  • There’s a movement within government to make all data from all departments available to all staff at a local, state, and federal level. The more places your data ends up, the larger a hacker’s “attack surface” is — that is, the more vulnerable your data is. A security breach in a single police station in the middle of nowhere could result in your data ending up in the hands of hackers — and potentially used against you from the shadows — for the rest of your life.

Wait a second. What about my fourth and fifth-amendment rights? Isn’t this illegal?

The fourth-amendment protects you against unreasonable search and seizure. The fifth-amendment protects you against self-incrimination.

If a police officer were to stop you on the street of America and ask you to unlock your phone and give it to them, these amendments would give you strong legal ground for refusing to do so.

But unfortunately, the US border isn’t technically the US, and you don’t have either of these rights at the border.

It’s totally legal for a US Customs and Border Patrol officer to ask you to unlock your phone and hand it over to them. And they can detain you indefinitely if you don’t. Even if you’re an American citizen.

The border is technically outside of US jurisdiction, in a sort of legal no-man’s-land. You have very few rights there. Barring the use of “excessive force,” agents can do whatever they want to you.

So my advice is to just do whatever they tell you, to and get through customs and on into the US as quickly as you can.

The US isn’t the only country that does this.

It’s only a matter of time before downloading the contents of people’s phones becomes a standard procedure for entering every country. This already happens in Canada. And you can bet that countries like China and Russia aren’t far behind.

“Never say anything in an electronic message that you wouldn’t want appearing, and attributed to you, in tomorrow morning’s front-page headline in the New York Times.”Colonel David Russell, former head of DARPA’s Information Processing Techniques Office

Since it’s illegal in most countries to profile individual travelers, customs officers will soon require everyone to do this.

The companies who make the software that downloads data from your phones are about to get a huge infusion of money from governments. Their software will get much faster — maybe requiring only a few seconds to download all of your most pertinent data from your phone.

If we do nothing to resist, pretty soon everyone will have to unlock their phone and hand it over to a customs agent while they’re getting their passport swiped.

Over time, this unparalleled intrusion into your personal privacy may come to feel as routine as taking off your shoes and putting them on a conveyer belt.

And with this single new procedure, all the hard work that Apple and Google have invested in encrypting the data on your phone — and fighting for your privacy in court — will be a completely moot point.

Governments will have succeeded in utterly circumventing decades of innovation in security and privacy protection. All by demanding you hand them the skeleton key to your life — your unlocked phone.

You can’t hand over a device that you don’t have.

When you travel internationally, you should leave your mobile phone and laptop at home. You can rent phones at most international airports that include data plans.

If you have family overseas, you can buy a second phone and laptop and leave them there at their home.

If you’re an employer, you can create a policy that your employees are not to bring devices with them during international travel. You can then issue them “loaner” laptops and phones once they enter the country.

Since most of our private data is stored in the cloud — and not on individual devices — you could also reset your phone to its factory settings before boarding an international flight. This process will also delete the keys necessary to unencrypt any residual data on your phone (iOS and Android fully encrypt your data).

This way, you could bring your physical phone with you, then reinstall apps and re-authenticate with them once you’ve arrived. If you’re asked to hand over your unlocked phone at the border, there won’t be any personal data on it. All your data will be safe behind the world-class security that Facebook, Google, Apple, Signal, and all these other companies use.

Is all this inconvenient? Absolutely. But it’s the only sane course of action when you consider the gravity of your data falling into the wrong hands.

If you bother locking your doors at night, you should bother securing your phone’s data during international travel.

This may upset Customs and Border Patrol agents, who are probably smart enough to realize that 85% of Americans now have smart phones, and probably 100% of the Americans who travel internationally have smart phones. They may choose to detain you anyway, and force you to give them passwords to various accounts manually. But there’s no easy way for them to know which services you use and which services you don’t use, or whether you have multiple accounts.

We live in an era of mass surveillance, where governments around the world are passing terrifying new anti-privacy laws every year.

“Those who are willing to surrender their freedom for security have always demanded that if they give up their full freedom it should also be taken from those not prepared to do so.”Friedrich Hayek

With a lot of hard work on our part, enlightenment will triumph. Privacy will be restored. And we will beat back the current climate of fear that’s confusing people into unnecessarily giving up their rights.

In the meantime, follow the Boy Scouts of America Motto: always be prepared. The next time you plan to cross a border, leave your phone at home.

Thank you for taking the time to reading this. If you liked this, click the below so other people will see this here on Medium.

 

 

Photos courtesy of OneIndia, USCustoms, youtube, travelskills, guardian, personal, laptopmag

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You Can Save Money on Airfare With Hidden City Ticketing

The UK’s Daily Mail carries a piece on saving airfare with hidden city ticketing. It sounds mad, but it is possible: an airfare hack that will save you a fortune provided you ‘miss’ a connecting flight. Known as ‘hidden city ticketing’, the trick works by…

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When I found out about this hack, I just had to share.  Ladies and Gentleman, may I introduce 2017’s biggest game changer so far… The Hidden City Ticket Scam.

http://millionmilesecrets.com/2014/10/07/save-money-on-airline-tickets-hidden-city-ticketing/

The UK’s Daily Mail carries a piece on saving airfare with hidden city ticketing.

It sounds mad, but it is possible: an airfare hack that will save you a fortune provided you ‘miss’ a connecting flight.

Known as ‘hidden city ticketing’, the trick works by booking a flight to a destination where your intended city is a layover, rather than the final stop.

 

There are some important cautions that I don’t think are well-enough spelled out in the piece, however.

 

What Is Hidden City Ticketing?

 

Hidden city ticketing is one of 10 Techniques to Save Money on Your Next Airline Ticket.

You may be able to save hundreds of dollars on a one-way fare buying an itinerary that connects in the city you actually want to travel to, and never taking the flight beyond that city to the final destination on the ticket.

This technique is most useful when you are flying to an airline’s hub city since they’ll have connecting flights beyond the hub. Just pick a (usually nearby) city to fly to where fares are cheaper, likely because of competition from low cost carriers or because there’s less business travel. Just avoiding non-stop markets dominated by a hub carrier can be sufficient due to greater competition.

You’ll want to check out my guide Using Hidden City and Throwaway Ticketing to Save Big Money on Airfare and see how this technique can sometimes save on fuel surcharges on your award tickets as well.

Why Is Hidden City Ticketing Controversial?

 

Hidden city ticketing is not illegal (and the New York Times “Ethicist” endorses it), but it’s generally against airline rules, and there are some basic practices you need to follow to make sure you or your bags don’t wind up in the wrong city.

  • You’re buying a ticket from A to B to C, where A to C is cheaper than buying A to B, but getting off in B.
  • You can’t check bags or else they will go to C.
  • In the event of weather or cancellations, an airline may want to reroute you to C via a different connecting city (“D”).

Airlines see themselves as selling you a ticket from A to C, rather than a seat on a plane for A-B and also B-C where you have the right not to sit in the B-C seat.

What Are the Risks of Hidden City Ticketing?

 

If you put the frequent flyer number of the airline you’re flying in the reservation they could do something unpleasant to your frequent flyer account.

 

They probably won’t, at least unless you do this very regularly. But I like to use a partner frequent flyer account in the reservation, just in case, when doing any kind of throwaway ticketing.

Travel agents who did this regularly for clients would get ‘debit memos’ — requiring them to pay the difference in fare (or risk losing their ability to issue tickets on the airline). Individual flyers aren’t forced to pay up.

Which Airlines Are Most Likely to Go After You For This?

 

British Airways has been cracking down on this.

Brian Sumers reported that United Airlines sent a memo to airport employees telling them to be on the lookout for ‘hidden city’ tickets.

The memo tells agents “[w]hen fraud is suspected, the Customer Service Representatives should send an email to Corporate Security for follow up..”

 

I’ve had two readers recently tell me that United sent them letters detailing their hidden city tickets and demanding payment for the difference in fare between what they paid and the prevailing fare for the routes actually flown. In both cases they (1) employed the technique frequently (more than monthly) and (2) gave their United frequent flyer number to the airline each time.

How Can You Mitigate the Risks When Employing Hidden City Ticketing?

 

As a general matter,

  • As long as you’re only skipping the final segment of the ticket you’re not going to cause problems for your return. You don’t want to do this on anything other than the last segment in your itinerary (unless you really know what you’re doing, you can sometimes skip a flight on one airline when the rest of your itinerary is on another).

 

    • Don’t check bags
    • Don’t put your preferred frequent flyer number in the reservation
    • Be prepared to explain the need for your original routing in the event of flight delays and cancellations
    • Only drop the last segment of your itinerary
    • Don’t do this super regularlySo you want to do this with one way tickets, or with the final segment of a roundtrip only.

       

      There’s always the risk of irregular operations — that your flight will get delayed or cancelled and the airline will want to reroute you through a different city. I’ve never actually had a problem insisting on my original routing (and I’ve even concocted some squirrely reasons why I needed this, like “I’m having an affair in connecting city ____, don’t worry I only need 45 minutes…”). But it’s something to deal with.

Check out the full article on BoardingArea

Photo Courtesy of Single Dad laughing and MillionMileSecret.com 

 

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Insane Travel Gadgets

Welcome to the future friends, a world where women are peeing standing up, people are sleeping like ostriches and farts are now odorless.  The world of travel gadgets is getting insane and I’m diving in head first. Ok, I’ve now officially seen it all, these…

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Welcome to the future friends, a world where women are peeing standing up, people are sleeping like ostriches and farts are now odorless.  The world of travel gadgets is getting insane and I’m diving in head first.

Ok, I’ve now officially seen it all, these gadgets inventors now have absolutely nothing left to invent. If you have spent any amount of time on an airplane, then I’m sure you have taken a gander at the Sky Mall magazine. This hilarious catalogue is a hodgepodge of weird and wacky inventions that are supposed to make life much easier, but in reality all these things do is clutter up our life.

If you are like me though, you love gadgets and can’t get enough of any new technology or cool doohickey. My wife has even implemented a plan in the event that I purchase another useless invention; I have to get rid of something if I come home with anything new. Our rule is simple, something comes in: something else needs to go. As a man who loves gadgets, my house is a continuous revolving door of funky products and useless inventions.

I’ve scoured the internet for ridiculous travel inventions and I’ve compiled my favorites here, I hope you enjoy.  

 

Knee Defender

I was first alerted of the Knee Defender in a news article about an air rage incident where a fight broke out over legroom. The airlines have been reducing the legroom on their flights for decades and now the passengers are literally starting to fight back. The Knee Defender is a pair of small pieces of plastic that restricts the amount an airplane seat can recline. This gadget actually attaches to the seat in front of you at the bottom of your tray table and the passenger ahead of you won’t know why their seat can’t recline. This is obviously a fight waiting to happen.

I see the perfect scenario where an airline passenger has had a few cocktails to relax and the person behind them attaches the Knee Defender without their knowledge and when the intoxicated person attempts to recline their seat, a huge argument occurs. A fight breaks out between the two while the plane is in flight and it now has to make an emergency landing, both passengers are taken to jail and the Knee Defender gets lots of free publicity. Then the Knee Defender will probably go on Shark Tank and Mr. Wonderful; will buy into it because he is a horrible person and terrible people all over will but them.  

The Knee Defender seems like an invention for passive aggressive people all over the globe, probably going to sell a million of these things.

 

GasBGon Flatulence Odor Control Seat Cushion

This next gadget actually has some merit and grabbed my attention immediately.  It’s no secret that planes are fart zones; the constant noise makes farting a breeze, but the smell will get you caught every time. Now the all-new GasBGon Flatulence Odor Control Seat Cushion is here to help with your stinky farts.  The name could use some work, maybe try something shorter and something that isn’t 6 words, geez.  This handy little seat cushion also doubles as a fart barrier so the smell doesn’t affect all the other passengers. I honestly don’t know anyone who would buy this thing, because once the fart leaves my behind, it’s not my problem anymore.

This is the country that went crazy for the pet rock and the shamwow, so who knows, maybe this will be the next Furby. I’m still bewildered by the actual technology behind this, but i hope for all our sakes that it works.  Talk about revolutionizing our world with this gadget, this is like sliced bread or the wheel.

 

GoGirl Female Urination Device (FUD)

I thought this was a joke until I actually did some research. The GoGirl is a real product and has been around apparently for years. I first heard of this gadget on the Howard Stern Show so I obviously assumed it was a bit for the show, boy oh boy was I wrong. It’s basically a female funnel that the woman uses so she can urinate standing up, solving an age-old problem. No more sitting down or squatting behind a tree for you lady adventurers. No word on what you do with the GoGirl once it’s been used, although I would toss it in trash, seems wasteful to me.

I’m all for female empowerment and if they want to strand and pee next to me at a urinal, cool.  Welcome to the club ladies, just keep that thing away from me, it seems quite unsanitary. 

 

Ostrich Pillow

The Ostrich Pillow is an odd looking device that is apparently supposed to help with sleeping in public.  The problem with this invention is it looks so ridiculous, how is this going to help you feel more comfortable sleeping in public?  The pillow is made to reproduce the way an ostrich sticks its head in the sand to sleep. I for one have never dreamed of sleeping like an ostrich, but now I can. With holes for your arms as well as head, the pillow is certainly going to turn heads in airports and train stations all over the world.

The infomercial does look pretty sweet for the Ostrich Pillow, which can double as a horrifying Halloween costume.  Check for it next time you want to scare a child or sleep like a big bird, maybe you can nap on Sesame Street.

 

This is just the start to all the insane travel gadgets I’ve found online, so expect more articles to follow with more goofy items from around the web.

 

Photos Courtesy of TheVerge, Sur.ly, DailyMail, GoPako, tenthandforth

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Adventure Travel: Push the Limits of your Vacation

  A new year and a new you, time to push your limits like never before. I’m not suggesting that you put yourself in immediate danger but I am saying you should test your boundaries. Let yourself live and maybe you will improve your regular self. Exploration and self discovery rarely are found in a […]

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A new year and a new you, time to push your limits like never before. I’m not suggesting that you put yourself in immediate danger but I am saying you should test your boundaries. Let yourself live and maybe you will improve your regular self. Exploration and self discovery rarely are found in a pool or a bar stool, you’ll need to walk a few steps outside your norm to find what you didn’t know you were looking for.  Go on an epic adventure and see what life is really about.

http://www.deopulence.com/

Exotic Transportation

Instead of renting a car, try a motorcycle or scooter on for size. This small adjustment to your normal itinerary can completely change your vacation. Let the wind rush through your hair and grab onto those handlebars tight as you vroom through the streets. Can you feel the power between your legs? Have you lived like this in a long while?

A small adjustment to the standard vacation can really turn things upside down. Side note: don’t rent a motorcycle if you have never ridden one before, maybe start with the smaller engine on the scooter. You can still feel the rush without seeing the inside of the local hospital.

Why walk when you can get pulled in a tuk-tuk, a rickshaw or by some local bovine. When I’m in NYC I always take a hansom cab ride around Central Park, this may not be too exotic for most but to me it’s fantastic. A hansom cab is a horse drawn carriage that tours you around Central Park. I’ll always remember the time my wife and I first visited New York and we took our first hansom cab ride. A cold February night had us in a romantic mood, so we hailed a hansom cab and got all cozy under the blankets. Our driver gave us a wonderful tour and we still talk today about that night.

Step Outside your Resort Walls

How about instead of sitting around by the pool, you venture outside the all-inclusive resort. Take a stroll through the town, or maybe a jungle hike. Get the blood flowing and your heart beating. Take in the clean air and beautiful surroundings. When I travel, I usually bring my hiking boots because I look for adventure at every turn and couldn’t imagine just sitting around a pool all day. Although, I have had some of my best vacations just sitting round a pool, but that’s another article altogether.

goabroad.com

Look for Adventure

Every vacation destination has brochures and pamphlets advertising their local attractions, these are great places to start. I usually tend to ask locals for advice or do some previous research on fun activities. But, you would be surprised at some of the awesome adventures that await just around the corner. Zip lines, waterfalls, ancient ruins and guided tours are just the start. Some of these tourist attractions are just traps and ways to suck money from the weary traveler. That’s why I do the added legwork and some light planning to find my true adventure.

STATravel.com

Travel for Adventure

Ditch the all-inclusive resorts and head out for adventure completely. Instead of sitting by the pool, try snorkeling in the ocean or white water rafting down a rushing river. Adventure awaits you at any experience level so don’t let your greenness deter you from an adventure. If you search hard enough, you can find a journey for every expertise level. My kayaking skills are lacking but that won’t stop me from trying. All I know for sure is I won’t get better at kayaking by not kayaking. Grab life by the proverbial balls and live it.

http://www.aitkenspenceholidays.lk/

Extreme Dream

This is not for everyone, but can be for some. Skydive, cliff jump or bungee jump, to start your vacation. Obviously do it with caution and only after you have done some proper research, but hell man, live it up. There is nothing like a little adrenaline rush to get that blood pumping through your veins. I’ve done it all and haven’t regretted an instance. Sure, skydiving may not be for everyone, but the same adrenaline rush I get from jumping out of a plane, you might get from eating exotic fruits. Each his own and you make your own adventure, as long as you are living it up; I’m cool with it.  White water raft down a river or cliff dive into the ocean, life awaits. 

Now I’m not saying that chilling by a pool at a resort can’t and isn’t fun, what I’m trying to say is maybe spice it up a bit. Sitting by the pool all day is perfect after you hiked 10 miles and bungee jumped off a bridge. We only get one ride on this planet so you should enjoy every step you take.

Travel on my friends; enjoy your ride, wherever it may take you.

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