Monday, September 17, 2018

Travel Security: Digital Prey

My brick phone in Caucasus Georgia, June 2012.

After leaving Ferguson at the end of October, I've got an international trip planned. Ooo, yeah.

Since my last sojourn out of the country (well, other than walking over to Juarez from El Paso), an ugly law enforcement practice that's spread across our national body like a case of poison ivy: Border officials demanding to see communications and other data in travelers' phones and laptops without good cause. Putting travelers in untenable positions if they protest the exposure of their devices' contents to border officials.

Am I likely to be singled out for such attention? Probably not. But I object to abuses of power on principle.

So on my trip, I'll take with me:
  • An old phone that is stripped of everything personal except the barest essentials I might need for travel; and
  • Little Red, my sweet, childlike laptop with a toddler's memory. 

There's another advantage to the above decision. Although my complexion, dress, and accent might not trip the typecasting alarms of border officials, my gender, age, and solo traveling status might juice up the salivary glands of tourist hunters on the other side.

Hopefully, a penetrating gaze that suggests I can kick your ass, despite appearances to the contrary, will ward off attempts to cull me from the herd. But in case that fails, well,  I might get my phone or Little Red ripped off, and that would suck.

But they are my expendable Star Trek extras, and my lead actors will be safe at home.

My brick phone in Caucasus Georgia, June 2012.

A useful article about digital security: The traveler's guide to keeping electronic devices secure during international travel, published in Travel and Transport, February 2017

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