24 September 2009

Porn Trumps Al Queda Communications in Laptop Searches

Earlier this year I was detained for awhile at a Canadian customs office. This required me to endure a minor laptop inspection, and to discuss the details of work permitting for IT projects in Canada (a topic for another day). In 2004-2005 I had commuted to a Canadian call center from New York, and had some delays, but none as extensive as this. What had changed since then? Both scenarios were post-9/11.

Curious as to whether others had experienced this, a search turned up a 2007 post by Thomas Kyte, who is, or was, an Oracle employee. His story of border inspections at the Canada-US border is amusing on its own merit.

Part of Kyte's annoyance was an obvious lack of IT savvy on the part of the customs agent. While it wasn't the focus of his blog post, it's clear that the typical customs agent, unable to navigate Windows proficiently and burdened by a misguided search for pornography, is unlikely to discover Al Queda messaging on terrorist laptops submitted for inspection.

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