Never Fly Internationally with Your Personal Phone – Jetlaggin
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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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3 Ways to Help Prevent Travel Rage

Travel can be stressful, exasperating, and yes, downright enraging. Just in a one week period last year, three planes have been diverted thanks to passenger scuffles—one caused by a woman who demanded her Delta flight land after a passengers reclining seat struck her head, and another the result of the Knee Defender, a plastic bracket one man used to prevent the seat in front of him from reclining. Yes, “recliner rage” is now a thing.

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Travel can be stressful, exasperating, and yes, downright enraging. Just in a one week period last year, three planes have been diverted thanks to passenger scuffles—one caused by a woman who demanded her Delta flight land after a passengers reclining seat struck her head, and another the result of the Knee Defender, a plastic bracket one man used to prevent the seat in front of him from reclining. Yes, “recliner rage” is now a thing.

The Knee Defender is an actual product that I just had to research.  Its hilariously advertised as a way to stop “aggressive recliners.”  I’ve never heard them called that before but as a frequent traveler I’ve been a victim of these bad people before.  These little pieces of plastic has caused quite a few mix-ups in the sky.  Let’s all remember that on airplanes the consequences of your stupidity are always elevated, so let’s all try and not be so dumb.  Avoid travel rage all together and just remember to Namaste.

 

A conflict with a fellow passenger doesn’t have to lead to a total travel meltdown. To keep your calm while getting out of town for work or play, try these top tips from Gail Saltz, MD, Health‘s contributing psychology editor and author of Anatomy of a Secret Life.

Control the Rage – Don’t be a control freak

Don’t let your rage boil over and let things lay where they fall.  When you’re on the road, you’re often at the mercy of external factors—the weather, that guy who stole the last parking space. “When something goes wrong, people tend to look for solutions, thinking if they do X, they will solve Y. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case during vacations, when much less is under your control,” says Saltz. Her suggestion? Acknowledge that you can’t control everything. “You can’t do anything about the airline losing your luggage or you missing your plane, but you can channel your thoughts into the enjoyable aspects of your trip,” she says. Yes, snafus suck, but accepting that you’ve done all you can do (and thinking about your planned kayak adventure) can be a therapeutic fix.

 

 

Be a mindful traveler 

Traveling sucks, we all know it, but it doesn’t have to send you into a rage, just be prepared for the madness.  Even the most meticulously planned trip can cause some apprehension, discomfort, and stress. “The more stress you feel, the more your adrenal glands produce cortisol, and once you’re down the cascade of fight-or-flight reactions, it’s hard to turn back,” says Saltz, who recently led a Health Twitter chat on stress. If you feel flushed, angry, and irritated—some of the common signs of anxiety—stop what you’re doing, take a moment to acknowledge the stressful trigger, and focus on something calm in the present, like your child’s green eyes or a passing cloud. Being mindful of the here-and-now will help slow your spiraling anxiety about “what ifs?”.

 

 

Let it go

When things don’t go our way, we often cope with the stress by playing the blame game. “People tend to direct their anger at the pilot, the driver, the guy reclining in his seat and smashing your knees, but pointing to one person won’t fix your problems,” notes Saltz. Instead, she says, acknowledge that the system isn’t working and accept that things go wrong. Your luggage got lost? Pick up a t-shirt and focus on the vacation you’re having, rather than the dress you could have been wearing. In other words, don’t let one incident ruin the great memories you’ll have for years to come.

 

 

Photos Courtesy of Getty Images and NBC Chicago 

 

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Why It’s Never the Perfect Time to Travel

With the year just beginning, many will be thinking of vacations and trips around the world. They’ll be pondering exotic locations and amazing adventures. And then abandoning those dreams as rapidly as they were thought up. Something will come up and plans will be put…

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No more excuses, stop telling yourself that you will wait until next year, or when the money’s right.  Traveling is just like having a kid, you are never ready, so just do it already.  The time is never right and that’s what this blog is about, just pulling the trigger.   Book your travel at the end of this blog or it will self destruct in 5…4…3.. just kidding, or am I? 

With the year just beginning, many will be thinking of vacations and trips around the world. They’ll be pondering exotic locations and amazing adventures.  I don’t know about you but I love anything exotic… cars, animals, adventures or even foreplay.  Make your vacation kinky, who cares, just do it. 

And then abandoning those dreams as rapidly as they were thought up.  Stop giving up on your dreams people!  We are inly on this planet for one ride and some people’s rides are shorter than others, so you better get the most out of it.  I live my life like Vin Diesel’s character in Fast and the Furious… “one quarter mile at a time.”  Just kidding, I wish i lived like that, but alas I don’t but I do take any opportunity I can to make my life better.  Travel is just an excuse to live your life and actually enjoy it for a brief moment.

Something will come up and plans will be put off until tomorrow as you wait for “the right time.” But, here is a secret: it will never be the right time to travel. You will always have some reason to stay at home. You always be able to find an excuse as to why today just isn’t the right day. But the idea that the stars will align and you’ll find the perfect day to step out of your door and into the world is a fantasy.

Today might not be the perfect day — but neither is tomorrow.

Tomorrow, there will still be bills to pay.

Tomorrow, there still won’t be enough money.

Tomorrow, there will still be someone’s wedding to attend or a birthday party to go to.

Tomorrow, there will still be planning to do.

Tomorrow, you still won’t know if you are making the right decision.

Tomorrow, you will still second-guess yourself.

Tomorrow, you’ll still find yourself putting off the preparation for one more day.

Tomorrow, you’ll find another excuse why you can’t go.

Tomorrow, people you know will still sow the seeds of doubt in your head.

Tomorrow, you’ll still worry about all the bad stuff that might happen to you.

Tomorrow, something else will come up.

Tomorrow will never be perfect.

When tomorrow does come, you’ll say to yourself, “Today isn’t the right day. Let’s try again tomorrow.”

But tomorrow will never come. Tomorrow will always be some vague day in the future.

And then one day you’ll find you’ve run out of tomorrows.

And you’ll be filled with nothing but sadness and regret.

So stop waiting.

Stop making excuses. Today is your day.

It’s never the right time to travel.

Forget about tomorrow.

Just go.

It’s a new year.

And it’s full of possibility.

 

Take my advise or not, at least I know that I did take every opportunity and just went with it.  Life your life like a Vin Diesel character and “I am Groot!” Wait, I think I got the quote wrong.

 

Check out the full article on NomadicMatt.com

Photo Courtesy of 10best.com

 

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Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

  Many people think that the Pacific side of Costa Rica is the better coast to visit. The remote Osa peninsula, the monkey-filled area of Manuel Antonio, and the touristy Nicoya coast all beat the Caribbean, which has more rain, less wildlife, fewer “modern” conveniences,…

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Many people think that the Pacific side of Costa Rica is the better coast to visit. The remote Osa peninsula, the monkey-filled area of Manuel Antonio, and the touristy Nicoya coast all beat the Caribbean, which has more rain, less wildlife, fewer “modern” conveniences, and uglier beaches. No matter where you go, the Caribbean side just won’t be as nice. Having now been to both coasts, I’m not sure what these people are talking about. Traveling down the Caribbean side, I did find it to be rainier, but it was no less beautiful and had many wonderful places to explore.

 

 

Tortuguero, the Costa Rican version of the Amazon rainforest, dominates the northern coast. This massive area is a series of rivers and canals that crisscross the jungle. It rains all the time, and although the beaches are beautiful, a full day of sunny beach weather is rare. To top it off, the currents are strong, and toothy barracudas and sharks roam the waters. Despite all that, there are many reasons to come here. The biggest draw is the large numbers of turtles that come to nest along the shoreline. The best time to see them nesting is in April and May. But even during the off-season, Tortuguero offers a few places to go hiking, lots of canal cruises, and an abundance of wildlife, this area is known for its birds. Tortuguero is not easy to get to nor is it cheap. It takes five hours to get there from San José and supplies are brought in by boat. It’s not a budget destination. But if it’s something remote and off the typical backpacker trail you’re looking for in Central America, Tortuguero is the place to go.

 

 

You’ll find great surf sites, deep sea diving, lots of people, and parties galore down the coast toward Panama. This part of the coast is a lot easier to get to and much cheaper than Tortuguero. Most travelers head for Puerto Viejo, the region’s main hub. This is backpacker central, and it’s easy to get sucked into the surfer/party life here. Puerto Viejo is a rocking seaside town with a strong Caribbean feel. The town is small, it’s easy to get around, there are beaches everywhere, and there are a ton of good restaurants, ranging from local “sodas” where you can buy cheap food, to amazing Western places with delicious baked bread or good sushi. You’ll be rocking to reggae as you wander along streets, as there are more Caribbeans than Spaniards in Puerto Viejo.

Near Puerto Viejo are two other towns worth seeing: Cahuita and Manzanillo. Cahuita, a tiny town situated right next to a stunning national park with the same name, is about an hour north of Puerto Viejo. Like Tortuguero, this is a place to relax. There’s one bar that gets lively on some nights, but for the most part, after a day of hiking, swimming, or surfing, most people just sit and read.

Manzanillo is only 12 kilometers from Puerto Viejo, which makes for an easy day trip. In fact, you can walk here from Puerto Viejo in about two hours, just follow the beach. The town is even smaller than Cahuita, and no one ever really visits. The reef system there is close to the shore, and this is the area’s main diving spot. Most of the people who come here are older couples, families, or retirees. Come here to dive and relax after all the partying and noise of Puerto Viejo.

 

 

After visiting Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, I can say that it’s just as beautiful, interesting, and majestic as the Pacific coastline. And since it rains more on the Caribbean coast, you’ll find far fewer people on this side. The huge resorts, overpriced meals and tours, and thousands of expats that flood all parts of the Pacific, especially the Nicoya Peninsula, are hardly anywhere to be found. So let them do what they want while you enjoy fairly empty beaches, cheap seafood, and lots of wildlife.

 

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