After Hours

You are probably breaking at least one law with your computer right now

Legislation that affects the use of Internet-connected computers continues to grow in its reach and its complexity. To help you avoid any infractions, we've revised this list to include new and pending laws and recent rulings.

For many years, the Internet was the "final frontier," operating largely unregulated--in part because of the jurisdictional nightmare involved in trying to enforce laws when communications crossed not just state lines but also national boundaries. That was then; this is now. Legislation that affects the use of Internet-connected computers is springing up everywhere at the local, state, and federal levels. You might be violating one of them without even knowing it.

In this article, we'll take a look at some of the existing laws and some of the pending legislation that can influence how we use our computers and the Internet. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice; this is merely an overview of some of the legislation that's out there, the court's interpretation of it (if applicable), and possible implications for computer users.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download and was originally published in the 10 Things Blog in March 2010.

1: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

Most computer users have heard of this law, signed in 1998 by President Clinton, implementing two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties. The DMCA makes it a criminal offense to circumvent any kind of technological copy protection--even if you don't violate anyone's copyright in doing so. In other words, simply disabling the copy protection is a federal crime.

There are some exemptions, such as circumventing copy protection of programs that are in an obsolete format for the purpose of archiving or preservation. But in most cases, using any sort of anti-DRM program is illegal. This applies to all sorts of copy-protected files, including music, movies, and software. You can read a summary of the DMCA here.

If you're a techie who likes the challenge of trying to "crack" DRM, be aware that doing so--even if you don't make or distribute illegal copies of the copyrighted material--is against the law.

2: No Electronic Theft (NET) Act

This is another U.S. federal law that was passed during the Clinton administration. Prior to this act, copyright violations were generally treated as civil matters and could not be prosecuted criminally unless it was done for commercial purposes. The NET Act made copyright infringement itself a federal criminal offense, regardless of whether you circumvent copy-protection technology and whether you derive any commercial benefit or monetary gain. Thus, just making a copy of a copyrighted work for a friend now makes you subject to up to five years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines. This is the law referred to in the familiar "FBI Warning" that appears at the beginning of most DVD movies. You can read more about the NET Act here.

Many people who consider themselves upstanding citizens and who would never post music and movies to a P2P site think nothing of burning a copy of a song or TV show for a friend. Unfortunately, by the letter of the law, the latter is just as illegal as the former.

3: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)

This treaty is still in negotiation between the United States, European Commission, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, Canada, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. The most recent round of negotiations took place in Mexico in January 2010, and the next is scheduled for April 2010 in New Zealand.

As with the DMCA, many regard the ACTA as a workaround for governments to impose regulations and penalties through international treaties that they would not be able to pass into law through their regular legislative processes. ACTA covers a number of areas, including counterfeit products and generic medicines, but the part that affects computer users is the chapter titled "Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights."

Although the treaty negotiations are conducted in secret, a leaked document indicated that one provision in the treaty would force ISPs to give information about customers suspected of copyright infringement without requiring a warrant. According to reports, another provision would allow customs agents to conduct random searches of laptops, MP3 players, and cell phones for illegally downloaded or ripped music and movies. Not surprisingly, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a supporter of the treaty. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) opposes it, as does the Free Software Foundation. You can read the EFF's stance on ACTA here.

4: Court rulings regarding border searches

Most Americans are aware of the protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution's fourth amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures. In general, this means that the government cannot search your person, home, vehicle, or computer without probable cause to believe that you've engaged in some criminal act.

What many don't know is that there are quite a few circumstances that the Courts, over the years, have deemed to be exempt from this requirement. One of those occurs when you enter the United States at the border. In April 2008, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of Customs officers to search laptops and other digital devices at the border (the definition of which extends to any international airport when you are coming into the country) without probable cause or even the lesser standard of reasonable suspicion. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other groups strongly disagree with the ruling. You can read more on the EFF Web site.

Meanwhile, be aware that even though you've done nothing illegal and are not even suspected of such, the entire contents of your portable computer, PDA, or smart phone can be accessed by government agents when you enter the Unites States. So if you have anything on your hard drive that could be embarrassing, you might want to delete it before crossing the border.

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5: State and federal laws regarding access to networks

Many states have criminal laws that prohibit accessing any computer or network without the owner's permission. For example, in Texas, the statute is Penal Code section 33.02, Breach of Computer Security. It says, "A person commits an offense if the person knowingly accesses a computer, computer network or computer system without the effective consent of the owner." The penalty grade ranges from misdemeanor to first degree felony (which is the same grade as murder), depending on whether the person obtains benefit, harms or defrauds someone, or alters, damages, or deletes files.

The wording of most such laws encompass connecting to a wireless network without explicit permission, even if the Wi-Fi network is unsecured. The inclusion of the culpable mental state of "knowing" as an element of the offense means that if your computer automatically connects to your neighbor's wireless network instead of your own and you aren't aware of it, you haven't committed a crime. But if you decide to hop onto the nearest unencrypted Wi-Fi network to surf the Internet, knowing full well that it doesn't belong to you and no one has given you permission, you could be prosecuted under these laws.

A Michigan man was arrested for using a café's Wi-Fi network (which was reserved for customers) from his car in 2007. Similar arrests have been made in Florida, Illinois, Washington, and Alaska.

The federal law that covers unauthorized access is Title 18 U.S.C. Section 1030, which prohibits intentionally accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access. But it applies to "protected computers," which are defined as those used by the U.S. government or a financial institution or those used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce. In addition to fines and imprisonment, penalties include forfeiture of any personal property used to commit the crime or derived from proceeds traceable to any violation. You can read the text of that section here.

In a recent case regarding unauthorized access, a high-profile lawsuit was filed against a school district in Pennsylvania by students who alleged that district personnel activated their school-issued laptops in their homes and spied on them with the laptop's webcams. The FBI is investigating to determine whether any criminal laws were broken. Because the school district owned the computers, there is controversy over whether they had the right to remotely access them without the permission of the users.

6: "Tools of a crime" laws

Some states have laws that make it a crime to possess a "criminal instrument" or the "tool of a crime." Depending on the wording of the law, this can be construed to mean any device that is designed or adapted for use in the commission of an offense. This means you could be arrested and prosecuted, for example, for constructing a high-gain wireless antenna for the purpose of tapping into someone else's Wi-Fi network, even if you never did in fact access a network. Several years ago, a California sheriff's deputy made the news when he declared Pringles can antennas illegal under such a statute.

7: Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying laws

Stalking is a serious crime, and certainly all of us are in favor of laws that punish stalkers. As Internet connectivity has become ubiquitous, legislatures have recognized that it's possible to stalk someone from afar using modern technology. Some of the "cyberstalking" laws enacted by the states, however, contain some pretty broad language.

For example, the Arkansas law contains a section titled "Unlawful computerized communications" that makes it a crime to send a message via e-mail or other computerized communication systems (Instant Messenger, Web chat, IRC, etc.) that uses obscene, lewd, or profane language, with the intent to frighten, intimidate, threaten, abuse, or harass another person. Some of the lively discussions on mailing lists and Web boards that deteriorate into flame wars could easily fall under that definition. Or how about the furious e-mail letter you sent to the company that refused to refund your money for the shoddy product you bought?

Closely related are the laws against cyberbullying. Such laws have been passed by some states and local governments. In April 2009, the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act (H.R. 1966) was introduced in the U.S. Congress. The act would make it a federal crime to "intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to another person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated and hostile behavior." Subcommittee hearings have been held, and the bill is continuing through the legislative process.

Opponents of the proposed law point out that the language is open to interpretation and could be construed to apply to someone who merely gets into heated discussions on a web board or e-mail list. The best policy is to watch your language when sending any type of electronic communications. Not only can a loss of temper when you're online come back to embarrass you, it could even get you thrown in jail.

8: Internet gambling laws

Like to play poker online or bet on the horse races from the comfort of your home? The federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 criminalizes acceptance of funds from bettors--but what about the bettors themselves? Are they committing a crime?

Under this federal law, the answer is no, but some state laws do apply to the person placing the bet. For example, a Washington law passed in 2006 makes gambling on the Internet a felony. The King County Superior Court just recently upheld that law, although challengers have vowed to take it to the Supreme Court. Be sure to check out the state and local laws before you make that friendly online bet.

9: Child pornography laws

We all want to protect children and keep pedophiles away from them, but could you be arrested for possession of child pornography or for exposing children to pornography even though you would never voluntarily indulge in such a thing? Unfortunately, as the laws are written and enforced, the answer is "yes." In January 2007, a substitute teacher in Norwich, CT, was convicted of four felony pornography charges, although she claimed the offending pictures were the result of pop-ups and that she did not knowingly access the Web sites in question. The conviction was set aside after forensics and security experts examined her hard drive and found the school's antivirus software was out of date and the computer had no anti-spyware, firewall, or pop-up blocking technology. The teacher ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Pornographic images of children are illegal to possess. This includes not just photographs of actual children but also computer-generated pictures and drawings in which no real people are involved and photos of models who are of adult age but look like children. There are many ways such images can get on a computer. Viruses can infect your system and allow another person to remotely access your hard drive. Your computer can be taken over to become a bot, controlled by someone else without your knowledge. Someone can e-mail you an illegal image. You can click a link on a nonpornographic Web site that takes you to a site where the illegal images are displayed, and they're then downloaded into your Web cache on your hard drive.

In another 2007 case, a 16-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and got 18 months probation and over a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees, even though he passed polygraph tests in which he denied knowledge of the images and an examination of the hard drive found more than 200 infected files and no firewall.

10: Pro IP Act

Returning to the copyright front, the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (Pro IP Act), which was signed into law in 2008, imposes stricter penalties for copyright infringement. It created a new position of "copyright enforcement czar" (formally called the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator) in the federal bureaucracy and gives law enforcement agents the right to seize property from copyright infringers.

This may all sound fine in theory, but when you look at the way other seizure and forfeiture laws have been applied (for instance, the ability of drug enforcement officers to seize houses, computers, cars, cash, and just about everything else that belongs to someone tagged as a suspected drug dealer--and in some cases, not returning the property even when the person is acquitted or not prosecuted), it makes many people wary. Read more about the bill here.

Some local jurisdictions have also established seizure authority for piracy. In September 2009, Victoria Espinel was appointed as the first copyright czar. She has asked for public input by March 24, 2010.

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

68 comments
jkameleon
jkameleon

You needed a police permit to have one. The penalty for owning an unregistered typewriter was death.

taxista
taxista

So, if I access my investment account while in Washington state and buy a few securities, I'm breaking the law?

mishkafofer
mishkafofer

1. We don't got laws such as DMCA but we do got Health Insurance. 2. At the airport, security can search you but they probably will look you strate at your face and ask how you are doing, just to see if you are nervous. 3. I worked as security guard, my instructor told me that no Palestinian suicide bomber successfully went threw security check in Israel because they are too nervous, because during the security test i should ask him few questions A. How do you feel? B. Do carry a weapon? and finally check his bags. No need to strep search kids just to prove a point. If he jumpy and nervous: stop him. Simple as that, no need to touch his junk. By the way, the TV serie 24 makes me lough, maybe in Israel agents work like this, in USA its peanut butter jelly time, too much ego and to big reliance on technology.

Mr. Fix
Mr. Fix

RE:"... the next [round of ACTA negotiations] is scheduled for April 2010 in New Zealand." Bringing your readers up to date, it should be noted that the final draft has already been released and is available for review here: http://www.ustr.gov/webfm_send/2379

vtassone
vtassone

So, let me get this straight. No pun intended ;-) If I download a porn flick that was created by porn stars all over the leagal age to produce such films and one of the stars dresses as an underage student getting spanked by the pricipal..... Does this get me arested , put in jail, and force me to register as a sex offender the rest of my life? On the other side. I work on computers. A customer brings in a PC with a problem HD. The first thing I usually do is backup what I can from the drive to my server. I cannot go through 300 gigs of data to find photos, MP3 files, films and such. Even if I deleat the backup after the job is done it could be forencically retrieved and again I would be busted. I would like to say that if I did find child porn on a customers computer I would notify police but alot of these laws are nothing more than politicians passing "feel good laws"

mwclarke1
mwclarke1

If things do not change, the wife and I are retiring out of the country

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

This one ended up selling rip off shoes online! Or maybe he's a podiatrist! Doctor my feet are sore, can I get a prescription for a size 9 Nike walking shoe please? luuuuuuuuuuuza!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

The work box is just for work, my LAPTOP on the pother hand would break every law in the US, I'd be put in the stockades pretty quickly if they saw it. (I do own a legit copy of Win7 with it though). 1) DMCA - Our relative laws are actually quite different, though still quite similar in many ways. In essence, and IF you could find a judge to uphold it, you could be fined a max $500.00 (as opposed to the unlimited Us caps that allow people to be sued for tens of thousands for downloading a half dozen songs. The low cap also indicates a law that will VERY rarely be applied, especially considering the cost of resources to do so. Nobody stands to gain from suing over it. 2) No Electronic Theft (NET) Act - Was actually set up to brign US law more in line with Canadian law. The issue in Canadian law is that it allows back up of books, but not DVD's or CD's. Yeah, let me photocopy War and Peace in case I spill coffee on it. :) However, Canada's law has some loopholes in it, Canada?s Copyright Board has found that it is [b]not legally required that the source of copied media be legally owned.[/b] This is part of the reason for the federal court?s ruling against the CRIA in a lawsuit that the CRIA launched in 2004 against twenty-nine large-volume file-sharers. The verdict stated that ?merely downloading and making music files available on one?s hard drive does not infringe copyright under current Canadian law." SO we can download music or videos and make personal copies of them, niiiiice! Remember, I sell music too so I see both sides but haven't seen file sharing as being detrimental to any acts I've represented, in fact I have seen much faster market awareness through P2P channels, I'm not the only one who purposely leaks music to the Internet, artists have done it for years now. 3: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)- Has been challenged here too and the defendant won. CRIAA can request the name of the party from the ISP, however, the ISP still faces severe privacy invasion rights for offering it, so they don't. Especially when the Plaintiff's suit is capped at $500.00. It 's just dead in the water at that point and not pursued. 4: Court rulings regarding border searches - I usually make sure my notebook is pretty clean before I cross the border. I've actually considered getting a spare HD, and imaging it with basic OS and a few free apps, then just swapping it before I cross the border. 5: State and federal laws regarding access to networks - Just doesn't come into play for me. 6: ?Tools of a crime? laws - Again non applicable 7: Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying laws - again, doesn't effect me, well Apotheon thinks I am stalking him but I think that's just his attempt at flattering himself and feeling important. 8: Internet gambling laws - I play ponies online in Washington all the time, where it is now a class C felony to OPERATE an online gambling site. The players themselves are RARELY pursued and the gaming company, Horse Player Interactive, probably has more money than the US government now anyway. It's amusing how this is the biggest deal in Washington, Home of Emerald Downs where I love to bet online from hotels. George Washington himself was known to love betting horses also. So law #1 broken, I guess. ( I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for them meddling kids!) 9: Child pornography laws - Not even going there, has nothing to do with me or anything on my notebook at all. I've never even seen child pornography in a pop-up ad. 10: Pro IP Act - As I don't infringe on legal copyrights, I can't see seizure happening, BUT never say never especially when it comes to crossing the border. End result, they get a $600 notebook that I have backed up and can be replaced in a heartbeat. So yes, I am a hardened criminal, due to Washington state gambling laws, and US online gaming laws, but I'll have to check with Horse Player Interactive to see how they work around it, their service is offered under a different name in the US. a close friend is VP of operations for Canada's largest gaming corporation, I'm sure he can shed some light on it for me. I'll pick his brain while I bet the ponies, live and LEGALLY this weekend.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Look eastwards across the wet blue line that marks the edge of the world, there the laws of the universe are different to yours. Yes there is such a place... In fact more than one.... Lots more...

Slayer_
Slayer_

nearly everyone of them was decided using FUD rather than properly research and logic. Are we at the point yet that the current government is destructive and its the right of the people to overthrow the government? Or in Canada... Pie the prime minister...

mishkafofer
mishkafofer

i meant to say that no suicide bomber in Israel went threw even the most basic security test, let alone airport security. Yes, this requires profiling, yes some feeling will get hurt, but the system is running for decades so terrorist don't come near airports and testing is much faster. and again, no kids are stripped, that US policy of over reaction.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Fortunately, you could probably appeal to a Jury.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My approach last border crossing was to clean the machine. Clean out the user data and ssh/rsync anything relevant back down once on the other side. Before my trip home; rsync back to my desktop and take the machine across clean the other way. Primarily my temp working files where not relevant to time away and I wanted the anything relevant backed up before the checkpoints. A "traveller" drive is a good method also though. I've heard of mailing the drive across ahead of time. I've also heard of mailing the encryption key ahead of time so when asked, you can honestly respond "I don't get the encryption certs until I arrive in the office". I wouldn't be recommending Truecrypt's hidden partition or similar though. Just imagine the world of grief when you present your laptop and some overly interested TSA decides to look for hidden partitions. "say, what is on this hidden encrypted partition sir?"

robo_dev
robo_dev

Where I live, here in the states, I can comfortably drive to work at 100mph, with little chance of getting caught. Try that on the M5. I can also store a loaded pistol in the glove box of my vehicle and use deadly force on anyone who attempts to enter my vehicle. The glove compartment is not, from a legal standpoint, a concealed location, and my car, from a legal standpoint, is an extension of my home. So I have the right to dispatch a carjacker to the great beyond, Clint Eastwood style, all legally. So laws are different everywhere, some better, some worse. :)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Even Sweden has cracked down on file sharing due to pressure from US "authorities". With the absolutely rampant music scene there, mainly artist controlled, they don't get anywhere with it though, just movie leaks and even then they don't prosecute, just seize. As for the wet blue line marking the edge of the world, I believe they are setting up tethers to keep Americans on American soil now, they'll have nets at the Canadian border soon to stop them fleeing North to claim refugee status. The Mexican government will have to start policing THEIR side of the wall to catch Americans climbing over or being smuggled into Mexico, now there's a change of tide for you! I can just see a bunch of guys from Arizona selling chewing gum, cheap leather clothes and Spanish Fly to tourists in the street.

DaemonSlayer
DaemonSlayer

just even the admission of such a thought has just probably landed you on someone's watch list as a threat to the government.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Bad political decisions have a way of being exported to other nations such as our own. It woudn't be so bad if the US would focus on making a mess of the US legal system but they're in it to dictate bad law to everyone else.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I've fought this back and forth for years now, I am caught between a rock and a hard place. Artists want material leaked, labels say I should be policing and reporting it. I say, have at 'er! The labels can't sue anyway so I go with what the artists want.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

.. who, in turn, is educated by existing bad laws and mass media sound bites.

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

Those dumb gorillas (read: TSA agents) dont even have a clue it exist.

Slayer_
Slayer_

And usually when I have crossed, its visibly sitting on the car seat

Raven - cdn
Raven - cdn

I live in a country that I might be able to drive that fast, but who would want to when you see snow on the road. I have been to Georgia, driven on your roads, and the one thing that stuck with me is the hatred of others because of the colour of your skin. You might hate the thought of gun laws but I like the fact that the person driving next to me on the way home does not have a gun in their glove compartment and feel compelled to start shooting because a red del sol cut them off. I like that my govt. won't be breaking down my door because I disagree with them, or sending me to jail because somebody clicked on a link on my computer. I love my Democracy!!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

would remember and perhaps assign a bit more value to the fact that they have an international audience. What are these miles things anyway, are they like kilometers? :D After all this time being an essentially an "unarmed" society I'm pretty sure if the firearms laws were relaxed, a lot of sphincters would also do so shortly after...

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I usually leave in time to get to work early enough that I can listen to the radio and have a tea at the river first, no traffic, no speed needed just a 15 minute CRUISE to the riverside park. I'll take not needing a handgun in the glove box in case I get carjacked but I guess it would add a little excitement to my day. I'd LOVE to have someone TRY to get into my car while parked at a light, I wouldn't need a gun (BC criminals are rarely armed, just the odd gang wannabe's) but they'd need an ambulance all the same. :D

Slayer_
Slayer_

Fortunately My real name is hard to decipher from this name. But such things have happened before to people, artists, actors, etc.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

yeah. seen that far too many times, at least we don't bend and spread 'em like we did during Paul Martin's term though. Harper's a bender too but not quite that bad.

Slayer_
Slayer_

We have to hope the Can Gov'nt won't do something stupid. Canada and others are set up to be leaders in internet, they just need to grasp the future concepts, rather than being afraid of them and legislating them.

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

The principle is that a TrueCrypt volume is created within another TrueCrypt volume (within the free space on the volume). Even when the outer volume is mounted, it should be impossible to prove whether there is a hidden volume within it or not*, because free space on any TrueCrypt volume is always filled with random data when the volume is created** and no part of the (dismounted) hidden volume can be distinguished from random data. Note that TrueCrypt does not modify the file system (information about free space, etc.) within the outer volume in any way. http://www.truecrypt.org/hiddenvolume

Slayer_
Slayer_

Otherwise, the installed OS on the other partition would either think its unformated space, that its corrupted space (and ask you to format it) or that its part of the current partition and is just full of garbage.

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

An encrypted disk look like a bunch of scrambled 0s and 1s from the beginning to the end of the disk. Without the loader you cannot see any partitioning or anything for that matter.

seanferd
seanferd

If you try to find it with the installed OS, and no other tools, maybe it is invisible. Otherwise, not.

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

The whole drive is encrypted and windows is showing the total volume of the drive. But within that encrypted volume there is a hidden container which is impossible to detect. The only way to know its there is to fill the drive with junk until you reach the maximum size that is closer than it should be (depending on the size of the hidden container). You basically just have to have 2 password. 1 for the partial drive and 1 for the full content.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If your notebook is taken into the back room, I don't expect it'll be the "dumb gorillas" checking out the machine. Truecrypt is also well known so adding "pop in this CD, boot machine, read list of partitions" to the operations manual for the front line staff isn't hard. What gives this a bad smell from teh start is the obscurity of a hidden partition; ok, so what happens when it's found? Even if you where uninteresting but caught for a random check, your a "person of interest" the moment they notice. Why do you have a hidden and encrypted partition on your drive? Why are you only displaying a "front" bootup separate from your hidden one? Was not mentioning it really an accident? What are you smuggling into the country? How do we open this encrypted area of your machine? A lot of questions pop up quickly. Even if the answers to all of them are innocent; I bet your missing your flight. To go a step further; it shows intent. You are demonstrating intent to spirit something across the border out of view of the authorities. Regardless of if the contents are illegal or not, your attempt to smuggle may be a crime in itself.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

There's a damned lot of that going around America lately. It must be contagious...

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

It seems Americans get the same 'welcome home' too, however I doubt with a joke or a smile. a few years back I had major issues going down, they guy just didn't like me, I smiled , was pleasant, yes sir, no sir and all the rest. He had no reason to not let me through though so he got up and walked away form his desk, which I tool as a cue that I was all done and gingerly left while looking over mu shoulder. On the way back a few days later and late a night, I would have sworn the border guard was Ernie Coombs (Mr. Dressup). He looked at my passport and pulled teh green card out while laughing and said "Oh, Landed ignorant, eh?" , I laughed because I always play that joke too, then he asked what we were bringing back. "A couple of boxes of concert shirts, some band swag for contest prizes, that sort of stuff...oh, and gas, cheese, milk, smokes, you know the routine." He said, "got any pot?" , I replied "no" [i](why would anyone be RETURNING to Canada with POT?)[/i] He just smiled and said,"Well neither do I, drive safe." Now, he's DONE his job (though he could have checked the vehicle and charged duty on the swag I was bringing back)he could have been a total dickhead but instead he was pleasant, efficient, friendly and inviting. You don't have to be so straight to be effective, but Americans seemed trained to use fear for coercion, not pleasantries, even though they both have the same end result and one results in much happier travelers.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've seen that lack of Haha more than once. Now, once past the border check, the TSA and such where very friendly. The guard was anything but. We where first at his bench at opening (early flight) and the total he had to say was "card please, names, ... this card is not filled out correctly; step back behind the line". I'm looking at the huge line now grown behind us and out the door to where the fresh blank cards are provided.. Re-entering canada; "any thing to declare? Welcome home.. have a great day". Heck, even the TSA staff show a sense of humour.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I've tried to stop flying to the US altogether, if I have to go to central or eastern states and just for a few days, I really have no choice, though I will push and fight for video conferencing instead. (cough cough, I'm too sick to travel, can you set up your cams and hit my IP instead?). But I still find that the border crossing, though air is worse, is an absolute pain in the butt. Plus they make me pay to enter every 3 month, when my green card expires. It's odd how they have no sense of humour when I ask to renew it in a Tijuana accent, a la Cheech Marin. "Hey, meester, I need a new green card for me family, mang!" ('Hey' with that phlegmmy, back of the throat H sound too, and they don't even LAUGH!) Maybe that's the problem with US border security, no bloody sense of Ha-Ha!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've been crossing by plane the last few years. Land crossing checks are probably more pleasant.

alfowler
alfowler

Plus EULAS, and more Laws.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

It's always in plain view. Never been asked, wouldn't want to be either, US border guards are the worst I've run into, and I've traveled across Eastern European borders.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Removing a few men's caps can be managed without much unrest.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

but they are armed too. The french are far more sucessful at making their government see 'sense'. Course that wee espisode where they decapitated them all, probably aids their concentration. :D

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

not sure I follow you Santee, but I'm sure you are used to hearing that. :D If you mean that you have yet to find a better solution to the aggression in America than to pull a handgun when faced with it, you may be somewhat right. I watched a doc a while back on guns in America and it' really got to the point of being a catch 22 situation. more stringent gun control laws would have been VERY effective if put into place decades ago. At this time, it will simply bypass criminals anyway. It's too bad because there COULD have been solutions but it's almost too late to do anything there about it now. Street gangs are usually better armed than police.

santeewelding
santeewelding

I have found, nor heard of, no better way to squelch dissent. It's what governments of people do, don't they?

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I know what you are saying, and I know where such views come from, believe me. It's not Anti-american or jealousy though, as many Americans would like to believe. Miles are long kilometers. If You all grabbed a paddle and rowed to US shores, the UK would see more gun violence too. Firstly, American thieves steal them and sell them across the border, adding to Canada's comparatively miniature problem but adding to it all the same. We have more guns per capita in Canada than in the US, but better gun control laws to the Yosemite Sam mindset found to our south. As a result, the majority of deaths by handgun in Canada are from stolen/imported weapons, such as those stolen from trustworthy, US gun owners. You'd soon see it too, the US has to find SOMETHING to export, even if its guns to enemies and friends alike. UK deaths by handgun are comparatively non existent when considering nations like America, land of the free to kill each other.

fuzzybunnyfeet
fuzzybunnyfeet

@Oz_Media wrote, "... mention supporting the welfare and health of American citizens in need and the whole country complains about their money being stolen from them and redistributed without their permission." Very little annoys me more than people lumping me in with some group with whom I disagree. Whether it is US politicians say, "The American people want ..." something that I vehemently don't want, to people in other countries talking about how the entire US country reacts in a way in which I do not react. FTR, this is one US citezen, not in politics, who thinks that taxes are the price we pay for a free society and that one of the oblications of this free society is to help support our less fortunate members. Not everyone in the US is an anti-government, anti-taxes, anti-individual liberty (when it comes to sex and religion), right-wing nut job. It's too bad that the wing nuts shreak so loudly that they drown out most other voices.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

They will spend trillions to help people in a foreign land (or so they say that's what it is anyway), they will spend hundreds of millions bailing out private companies that can't balance a budget and people justify it and happily go on with their lives. But mention supporting the welfare and health of American citizens in need and the whole country complains about their money being stolen from them and redistributed without their permission. LOL, oh well, at least it's not [i]my[/i] home.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

.. when "they" the majority comprised a number of creative accounting methods and such around the Florida area. But, either way, he was in office two terms and no mob with pitchforks turned up to complain. (start a few wars, waste billions of dollars.. it's all good.. just don't dare be caught with a falacious assistant)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Perhaps the questionable majority of US voters would describe 'they' a little better. I know many didn't like him, but with the vigor behind those who actually did, it was loud enough to be considered unanimous. I don't know how many threads I slogged through here where people were defending his every move to the death. The unfortunate reality is that it really was to the death, of people sons, daughters and parents and today nothing has really changed in Iraq, well except there are fewer people left to keep terrorism at bay now.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I believe "they" is an undefined variable in your statement. ;D

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

While we had Martin, the US was stuck with Bush, well not STUCK per se, they actually requested his services [u]twice[/u]. I think Canada's government is starting to see reality, more European trade and relationships again, less cowtowing to US law in order to promote trade. In turn, the US really needs other nations again and it shows in their attitudes toward other nations, a little quieter and humbler than usual.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

We've had some very close one's so far and it's not like those who want self-serving legislation are going to just stop trying for it. (in other news, I should look up how the G20 class action is going)

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