Australian Border Force searched phones of 10k travellers in past two years
105 points
4 days ago
| 11 comments
| theguardian.com
| HN
zensavona
4 days ago
[-]
I'll just add a couple of details here since I have had this happen to me multiple times...

I'm an Australian citizen and this applies just as much to me as a foreigner (for whom although I disagree about, I could make a reasonable argument for this being valid). Police require a warrant and/or reasonable suspicion of having committed a specific crime to search any part of you or your belongings. Border Force do not require this.

When they ask for the code, they will either:

- just open your device and rifle through your photos and messages in front of you, asking questions like "got a lot of photos of x, what's that about?" or "who is y?", ask you questions like "what are you doing in Australia? Who are you seeing? What's your relationship to them?" et cetera (even to me, a citizen who spends majority of my time abroad).

- Take it into another room for 20mins or so and presumably take a dump of the whole thing for further analysis. I once asked "what is done with this data and how long is it stored" and they refused to answer the question.

One time after refusing to hand over the code (politely) I was treated pretty aggressively, had my whole body searched (not strip searched, groped well all over), all my luggage taken apart etc. I received a letter in the mail that I could go and collect my phone at the airport after around 3 weeks. It seems unlikely they have some tech which allows exfiltration of data from a locked iPhone(?) so I'm not sure what that's about. They claimed to me that they do indeed have this capability.

Since refusing to open the phone and letting them keep it I seem to be on some kind of list and have had a Border Force officer meet me at the baggage carousel a couple of times with the "please come with me sir" to my own private search area where a few of them are ready to search my luggage inside out. This seems to happen less recently since I have just given them the code. They have successfully made it inconvenient enough for me to comply.

One time years ago they did the same thing with my laptop. Since that incident they have only asked about my phone.

reply
tamimio
4 days ago
[-]
> They have successfully made it inconvenient enough for me to comply.

That’s the point, unfortunately, that method works because most people just hand over their code without any questions, if enough people refused, it will be inconvenient to them not the other way around.

reply
akudha
4 days ago
[-]
I don’t think it will ever be an inconvenience to them. They’ll just hire more people and get more resources from the tax dollars. Plus, they probably enjoy irritating people even if it inconveniences them.

Most people probably won’t last long in such jobs. I for one, don’t want to spend all my working time annoying others and being a dick. But the ones who do last long, probably get a kick out of being a nuisance

reply
ThrowawayTestr
4 days ago
[-]
What would you say to people claiming that Australia is falling into authoritarianism?
reply
RachelF
3 days ago
[-]
There's another symptom of this. Those in power are exempt.

When an MP, called Julie Bishop, had her bags searched, she used her power to get those involved sacked.

reply
DEADMINCE
3 days ago
[-]
As far as internet access and devices and things like this go, all western governments are going to become authoritarian in this regard. Only thing we can do is try to change the government, and otherwise fight back with plausibility deniability and using tools like encryption and steganography.
reply
verticalscaler
3 days ago
[-]
"What's the problem if you ain't got something to hide? And who would possibly want to even live without a smartphone?"
reply
Rinzler89
4 days ago
[-]
Ah shit, comments like these and the videos from Boy Boy and Friendly Jordies makes me want to avoid traveling to Australia when I see how easily law enforcement there just violates people's rights using some legal loophole.
reply
bloomingeek
4 days ago
[-]
I couldn't agree more! Hypothetical: I wonder how they would react, on looking at my cell, if before leaving home I removed all my pictures and contacts, erased my internet history and removed all files? Would they think I'm hiding something or just being careful with my private data?

Instead of, "Don't leave home without it!", leave home without data on phone. :)

reply
tamimio
4 days ago
[-]
> on looking at my cell, if before leaving home I removed all my pictures and contacts, erased my internet history and removed all files?

They take a whole dump for future forensic if needed, and that includes the ability to restore what you have deleted.

reply
j5155
4 days ago
[-]
Surely this is not possible (assuming the recently deleted folder is cleared)? I know it could be done with insecurely erased hard drives but I dont think any phones are using those?
reply
tamimio
4 days ago
[-]
It is indeed possible, recovering a fully deleted file or even chats logs is the easiest part, given it’s unlocked. I don’t know about Australia, but plenty of law enforcements use cellebrite (1), and there are other tools too that provide such forensic analysis.

(1) https://cellebrite.com/en/home/

reply
DEADMINCE
3 days ago
[-]
If you wipe the phone completely and re-image it, they can't recover a thing.
reply
bloomingeek
3 days ago
[-]
Hypothetical 2: leave your cell at home and just carry your sim card. After leaving airport, purchase a usable phone and insert sim card. Remove card and ditch phone when leaving country. Would they detain and harass this person?
reply
tflol
4 days ago
[-]
In my case, wandering male Sydney Funnel-web Spiders make me want to avoid Australia
reply
oska
3 days ago
[-]
On the assumption (perhaps misplaced) that this comment is serious and not a joke, such a sentiment indicates extremely poor risk assessment. Native Australian fauna represents such an extremely small risk to tourists that it is not worth considering. (But obviously if you do encounter any dangerous looking fauna you should treat it with respect.)

But I do agree with the grandparent comment that this extreme level of airport search intrusiveness does legitimately make Australia a much less attractive tourist destination. And btw, as an Australian, I feel somewhat the same way towards the USA and its intrusive airport searches (which is what we are slavishly copying).

reply
DEADMINCE
3 days ago
[-]
> Native Australian fauna represents such an extremely small risk to tourists that it is not worth considering.

Not only that, but most of the species are common in the USA and EU and just have different names.

Also, the US has far more dangerous animals, but somehow Australia is famous for that lol.

reply
Rinzler89
3 days ago
[-]
DEI petition to increase the number of female funnel-web spiders in employment in Sydney when?
reply
stephenr
4 days ago
[-]
You could just visit the other 99.6% of the country that Sydney funnel-webs don't inhabit?
reply
tflol
4 days ago
[-]
Not a risk I'm personally willing to take ;)
reply
grecy
4 days ago
[-]
Have you tried not bringing a phone?

I'd be really interested in their response when you tell them you don't have one on you.

reply
dazc
4 days ago
[-]
Seems like a good case for having a basic Nokia just for travel purposes.
reply
GJim
3 days ago
[-]
As I said earlier....

Most companies of any size, and civil servants, have policies to travel with burner phones/laptops when crossing (even benign) international boarders; including into Australia and "the land of the free"

Frankly, it is so commonplace, it is not remotely unusual or suspicious to travel with a burner phone.

reply
gruez
4 days ago
[-]
Or their response if you gave them your phone and pin but it's a wiped/reset phone.
reply
fone
4 days ago
[-]
Or their response if you didn't give them the passcode, and the data port is rewired internally.
reply
Aerbil313
1 day ago
[-]
I'd wipe my iPhone and restore from iCloud backup after the airport.
reply
cletus
4 days ago
[-]
Story time: when I worked at Google we had a specific policy for traveling to and from China. IIRC it went something like this:

1. You absolutely aren't allowed to take your regular phone and laptop;

2. You will be given loaner devices to take into China;

3. If you're asked to open such devices on entry, comply and then, when you can, inform IT;

4. Once you got back, I'm not sure what happened to those devices. I believe they were in the very least wiped. They may even have been destroyed in certain circumstances (eg if a border official examined the open device). But that's speculation.

I never travelled to China so never used this. A colleague who regularly traveled to China told me some stories about this.

But yes it does seem prudent to wipe your device and restore when you land. Then again, border officials can also deny you entry with very little justification so who knows?

reply
bbarnett
4 days ago
[-]
If I ever have a company phone out of a employee's sight like this, eg border searches, from China to Canada, it's thrown in the garbage after.

There's no way wiping should be considered enough.

reply
codetrotter
4 days ago
[-]
> it does seem prudent to wipe your device and restore when you land. Then again, border officials can also deny you entry with very little justification so who knows?

For example, if they instruct you to turn on the device, and they see the setup screen or even just that it has no photos, no messages, nothing, might raise suspicion I would imagine.

Good luck trying to argue with them that absence of data should be considered normal and not a reason for them to harass you :(

reply
Kim_Bruning
4 days ago
[-]
They might try to claim that you're smuggling a new phone or some such. But you could often just state that it's corporate policy?

Now you can both take the same side complaining about stupid bureaucratic rules making everyone's life harder.

reply
Garvi
4 days ago
[-]
That's exactly like the travel advisories to the US for EU firms. If it bothers you this much, why this Don Quixote act, why not do something about it where you actually can? Otherwise it's just bashing the Chinese for internet happy points. Just like reddit.
reply
nvy
3 days ago
[-]
>Otherwise it's just bashing the Chinese for internet happy points. Just like reddit.

Not every criticism of China is xenophobia.

reply
Garvi
3 days ago
[-]
You've lost all objectivity on this.
reply
nvy
2 days ago
[-]
You're a Chinese propaganda sockpuppet account.
reply
cletus
4 days ago
[-]
Unauthorized access by Chinese state actors is not a hypothetical [1].

[1]: https://www.computerworld.com/article/1600064/hackers-used-i...

reply
oska
3 days ago
[-]
You are referencing something orthoganol to the subject at hand here (searches of devices while going through customs, which garvi is right to point out occurs in a range of countries).

(Not only that but it was a very poor reference, with almost no detail given in the linked article of China's alleged involvement in the hacks.)

reply
estebank
4 days ago
[-]
As someone who's more affected by the US behavior than the Chinese behavior, and very critical of it, what you're doing is whataboutism.
reply
Garvi
3 days ago
[-]
What you are doing is proving my point.
reply
peutetre
4 days ago
[-]
> The department data reveals that close to 94% of the time people freely revealed their phone passcode to officers, despite there being no legal requirement to do so.

There really needs to be better education in civics. It's so important to know your rights, especially when someone in a position of authority tries to abuse that authority.

reply
LimeLimestone
4 days ago
[-]
Does it apply to non-citizens?

As far as I know, in the US you can politely decline a phone search if you are a US citizen. If you're a foreign tourist your only choice is either to allow the search or be denied entry to the Land of Freedom™

How does it work in Australia?

reply
jkaplowitz
4 days ago
[-]
At the US international border, no, even US citizens can’t prevent the phone search regardless of whether or not they consent. They can however usually decline to give a PIN, passcode, or password or to assist in unlocking the phone by entering such a credential, and they can’t be refused entry to the US. However, CBP can then temporarily seize the phone to perform a more comprehensive attempt at searching it. Getting the phone back later may be a hassle.

Additionally, pissing off CBP may lead to extended delays, luggage searching, and questioning to see if they can find another legally valid reason to punish you for annoying them. And maybe they might revoke trusted traveler program membership due to no longer seeing you as a low-risk traveler. But indeed, they will not finally refuse entry to a citizen.

There are rarer cases where the US government can insist on your cooperation in getting past a PIN, passcode, or password, such as if you show them that an incriminating document exists on your phone and then lock the phone before they can collect the evidence.

And while the exact boundary of the constitutional protections regarding face or fingerprint unlock is not authoritatively settled nationwide in the courts, it’s very likely weaker than for information you hold in your mind like a password.

I strongly suspect CBP can constitutionally require a US citizen entering at an international port of entry to assist with fingerprint or face unlock, though I admit I don’t know how physically they can force the matter if the person refuses. It wouldn’t surprise me if that would be grounds for arrest under at least some circumstances (maybe not all).

reply
tavavex
4 days ago
[-]
While I was born after 9/11, I'm think I've heard that these unprecedented powers were given to CBP (and other border agencies around the world) after that event.

Most people crossing any border face little friction like this, but when you dig in and see what border agents are allowed to do, it gets a bit unnerving. Especially so for the US, the self-proclaimed land of the free.

Consider this - the CBP is granted wide-reaching powers that can supersede what actual police are allowed to do. They're allowed to racially profile, discriminate, search or detain anyone for any reason - citizen or not. Search warrants aren't required. Punishments like refusing foreigners entry for no reason or marking citizens to be additionally screened for the rest of their life can't be contested and are absolute. They are insulated from being sued, and may not need to follow Freedom of Information requests (not sure if this was reverted or not). They can do any of this within 100 miles of any external US borders - a.k.a. most major cities in the country. You don't actually need to be crossing or have crossed a border to be held up. Freedom!

The more you read into it, the more it seems that the federal US government has written a black check in terms of what some people are allowed to do. In the vast majority of cases, border guards are reasonable and don't overstep any boundaries - but I'm confused at why Americans, with the culture of valuing individual freedoms over all, aren't concerned with the hypothetical consequences these powers provide.

reply
returningfory2
3 days ago
[-]
> I'm confused at why Americans, with the culture of valuing individual freedoms over all, aren't concerned with the hypothetical consequences these powers provide.

I don't think this is as much of a "gotcha" it seems to be. People have all kinds of theoretical beliefs that they routinely violate in practice. It's just part of being human.

The way things like this are supposed to work in the real messy human world is that we encode these "freedoms"/rights into a constitution. We then have a judicial branch that protects these rights, irrespective of individual human inconsistency/hypocrisy. For border searches we have the relevant rights in the US constitution already. The problem is that the judicial branch has incorrectly ruled that protections like the 4th amendment don't apply at the border.

reply
karaterobot
4 days ago
[-]
As the article states, they can take your phone and try to hack it, but they can't otherwise punish you for refusing to give them your password.
reply
coldtea
4 days ago
[-]
>they can't otherwise punish you for refusing to give them your password.

Except of course by denying you entry, marking you in some "no fly" blacklist, and other ways that are not oficially "punishments", but are very much so in practice...

reply
alexey-salmin
4 days ago
[-]
They can refuse entry at any time, and legally speaking it's not punishment
reply
grecy
4 days ago
[-]
No country can refuse entry to it's own citizen.

They must admit a citizen, but they can then arrest them immediately.

reply
alexey-salmin
3 days ago
[-]
Right, but this subtree was specifically about non-citizens.

> Does it apply to non-citizens?

reply
sofixa
4 days ago
[-]
> far as I know, in the US you can politely decline a phone search if you are a US citizen

Same with being filmed at the airport. Last time I passed through US airports there were signs that you're monitored and it goes to blah blah database, and that if you're a US citizen, you can request to be removed. If you're not, go fuck yourself and pray all your biometric data isn't stored at the cheapest possible vendor and about to be leaked.

reply
macksd
4 days ago
[-]
And would anyone be surprised if asking to be removed was also a way to get subjected to additional screening in future?
reply
nomilk
4 days ago
[-]
"freely". The context here matters.

The tone when entering any country is already quite serious (i.e. passengers must proceed according to airport/airline rules and processes).

Australia's inbound UX has a few additional aspects that make the tone more stern.

An announcement is made on inbound international flights' about fines/deportation for undeclared risks to biosecurity; minds start to wonder about the wooden chess board or leather belt; it's typical to second-guess or be a bit nervous, especially non-English speakers who only caught every second word.

A formal-looking document ('Incoming Passenger Card' [1]) must then be completed.

Airport staff are generally slightly authoritarian (Australia's aren't the worst in this regard, but it contributes to the vibe the passenger perceives).

After a passenger has experienced this serious tone for several hours, they could perceive further requests in the same context as being ones best not politely declined.

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=incoming+passenger+card+aust...

reply
edward28
4 days ago
[-]
While you are legally required to hand over the passcode, they can confiscate the device for two weeks or more, which is probably a large deterrent for most people.
reply
McDyver
4 days ago
[-]
That's the point the article makes, you are _not_ legally required to hand over the password.

> Officers routinely ask travellers to provide their passcode or password to devices so they can be examined, but they do not have the power to compel passengers to hand over their passcodes,

reply
Hizonner
4 days ago
[-]
Right, and grandparent has a typo. True you are not required to hand over the password, but they aren't required to give you back your phone if you don't.
reply
karaterobot
4 days ago
[-]
> There is no limit on how long the devices can be held but the agency said the policy was to keep devices for no longer than 14 days unless it took longer to examine them.
reply
mrWiz
4 days ago
[-]
They could make the argument that they aren't finished examining the phone until they find a way to unlock it.
reply
Hizonner
4 days ago
[-]
Right. So they don't give you back your phone. You may get it a couple of weeks later. Very convenient for your trip.

... and they're doing it for purely punitive reasons. We all know they're not "examining" the phones in any meaningful way. It's too expensive and failure-prone.

reply
DowagerDave
4 days ago
[-]
but they can take your device - then what do you do?
reply
jmyeet
4 days ago
[-]
This one is tricky. You just don't have the same rights when trying to enter a country as you do if you're stopped by the police. Border officials have the power to deny you entry and generally there's very little recourse if they do. This makes you way more vulnerable and likely to cooperate than you would, say, during a routine traffic stop.
reply
zensavona
4 days ago
[-]
This applies to citizens returning home also. If I am an Australian citizen I do have a right to enter the country, yet I am still subject to this.
reply
queuebert
3 days ago
[-]
Knowing your rights is not the same thing as asserting your rights against a gun-toting, uniformed agent of the state who threatens you with detention, confiscation, and violence if you don't self incriminate.
reply
hindsightbias
4 days ago
[-]
I've never understand why younger generations raised under constant surveillance, school metal detectors and always-on where's my kid apps will hold the privacy values older generations claim to revere.
reply
coldtea
4 days ago
[-]
It's also important to not get boged down in the airport or denied entry out of spite though...
reply
sva_
4 days ago
[-]
'freely revealed' probably means 'we\'ll have to keep this until we managed to unlock it.'
reply
tamimio
4 days ago
[-]
If you are using an iPhone, make sure to enable pair locking (1). Additionally, I recommend storing your photos (or your phone backup) on a LUKS-encrypted Linux laptop. Do not trust corporate encryption software; it’s better to use a new phone while traveling if you don’t want to bother with that.

(1) https://arkadiyt.com/2019/10/07/pair-locking-your-iphone-wit...

reply
stephenr
3 days ago
[-]
Thanks for the heads up on pair locking. I saw a comment somewhere (without much to back it up, admittedly) that suggested "Lockdown mode" would also prevent similar attacks (which apparently prevents connections of any kind when locked).

It definitely sounds like pair locking is a more reliable method, but lockdown mode can be done a few minutes before getting to a border, it doesn't require access to a laptop/desktop to run Configurator.

reply
tamimio
2 days ago
[-]
I’m not sure about lockdown mode, but the advantage of pair locking is that the lock (say, your MacBook) can be left at home and isn’t currently with you, so no matter what, it will be locked. Lockdown mode might not work under certain coercion conditions.
reply
stephenr
2 days ago
[-]
True, and it doesn't seem like it impacts any other functionality at all, unlike lockdown mode.
reply
jl6
4 days ago
[-]
10,000 phone searches in the last two years.

3.3m visitors in March 2024 alone.

So something like 0.01% of travellers get their phones searched. How are those 0.01% selected?

> The agency does not provide information on the success rate for searches, but has said a phone would only be seized where officers suspected it had “special forfeited goods” such as “illegal pornography, terrorism-related material and media that has been, or would be, refused classification”.

One wonders how such a suspicion is formed.

reply
zensavona
4 days ago
[-]
Also consider Australians who travel and return home. I have personally had my phone searched 3 times. I know many people who also have the same experience. One time I refused and let them keep the phone, just bought a new iPhone and restored it. Since then I was searched almost every time I went through the airport.

After refusing to hand over the code (Politely... I explained that no, there is no terrorism material or similar on my phone, I just object to this practice, which they could not comprehend) I was treated pretty aggressively, had my whole body searched (not strip searched, but groped very well all over), all my luggage taken apart etc.

reply
stephenr
3 days ago
[-]
> I have personally had my phone searched 3 times.

I think it's safe to say the first time got you on a shit list.

So what triggered the first time?

Where were you flying from? Are there any other factors that while not at all indicators of guilt, might make them [suspect] you?

It could have been simple racial profiling or it might be context (ie a lone 60 year old dude travelling from Thailand or the Philippines). Like I said neither of these is a sign of guilt but they may cause/contribute to suspicion.

reply
bbarnett
4 days ago
[-]
The trickster side of me, makes me think you should have made very ... sensual sounds as they groped you.

Yes bad idea, but funny idea too.

reply
Kim_Bruning
4 days ago
[-]
People still wonder why I'm so careful with phones.

At this moment, phones in many jurisdictions are still fair game. Anyone can grab whatever they want from them. That's why you can't really trust them. We need new rules that declare the 'confidentiality of phone contents,' especially information at rest, as inviolable, similar to the secrecy of correspondence.

reply
curtis3389
4 days ago
[-]
This comment section reveals that you live in a dystopia.
reply
qingcharles
4 days ago
[-]
At Heathrow airport I was offered the option of switching my laptop on to show them it worked, plus a full body x-ray, or "the other option" (man waves a pair of gloves insinuating a full body cavity search).

So, you can see what (mostly) everyone would choose there.

The only bonus was that security man managed to walk me around the 2-hour long security line.

reply
gruez
4 days ago
[-]
>switching my laptop on to show them it worked

That seems... fine? They're not asking you unlock your laptop, just to turn it on, presumably to prove it's actually a laptop and not a bomb in a laptop's case.

reply
tavavex
4 days ago
[-]
Can't they determine this based on the x-ray scan alone? I mean, what's the other option - would they arrest a person carrying non-working/for-parts hardware?
reply
gruez
4 days ago
[-]
>Can't they determine this based on the x-ray scan alone?

Not a bomb expert, but a laptop is just a bunch of electronics next to a solid mass (for the battery). A bomb is also just a bunch electronics next to a solid mass (for the explosive).

>I mean, what's the other option - would they arrest a person carrying non-working/for-parts hardware?

I doubt they'll arrest you, but I vaguely remember airline websites saying that any laptops you bring MUST be able to turn on so they might confiscate it.

reply
sebzim4500
3 days ago
[-]
IME british airport security is more understanding than most, they'll probably try to find a way to do some test or let you check it. If it doesn't turn on then you're hardly going to be using it on the flight anyway.
reply
fractallyte
3 days ago
[-]
The gloves are standard, for hygiene purposes during a pat down - emphatically not a cavity search!

I was manually searched on my last trip because I refused to go through the millimeter wave scanner.

reply
qingcharles
3 days ago
[-]
Whatever the guy said, it was clearly insinuated, without saying it specifically, that his hands would be taking a trip into my butt :p
reply
sebzim4500
4 days ago
[-]
I don't think proving the laptop turns on is an unreasonable request. You just have to show them a log-in screen to prove it isn't a bomb.
reply
Hizonner
3 days ago
[-]
It would be easy to build a bomb that could show a login screen.
reply
queuebert
3 days ago
[-]
It's amazing how much security policy relies on the bad guys being dumb.
reply
geocrasher
4 days ago
[-]
Easy solution: Travel with a burner phone.
reply
nucleardog
4 days ago
[-]
Any time I travel out of country, a week or two beforehand, I pull an old phone out of a drawer, factory reset it, and move my SIM card over. I don’t sign it in to any cloud services. I’ll install a few apps (browser, news reader, YouTube, maps, stuff like that) but nothing of any real substance.

For the couple weeks until I travel I carry both phones, collecting a bit of data, the odd text message from my mom, snap a few photos, receive an assortment of spam calls, get a few destinations in the maps history, etc. Anything important still happens on my main device (can always tether through the old phone).

By the time I hit the border there’s enough data to not be an immediate red flag, but nothing that really matters. If anyone compromises the phone while I’m away, it’s at least reasonably limited to only collecting data on me until I get back and throw the thing back in a drawer.

It’s not foolproof, but it’s a reasonable balance for me between risk/effort/expense travelling to places like China.

reply
alisonatwork
4 days ago
[-]
The stupid thing about this whole security charade is that this is exactly what any serious actor would do if they actually had sinister motives for entering the country, so the policy is only punishing ordinary people who were no threat in the first place or occasionally by accident catching a dumb criminal who probably would've been caught eventually anyway.
reply
Hizonner
3 days ago
[-]
A serious actor would have a cover phone that was their main phone and had truly been used for everything they did, other than eee-ville, for months or years. Either that or they'd be a completely in-character business traveller with a blank corporate loaner phone in accordance with the actual policy of some company they actually worked for. Whatever best matched who they claimed to be.

Their eee-ville devices would stay at home. If they needed ee-ville data, they'd download from the cloud, probably into a new device, after passing the border.

reply
williamdclt
4 days ago
[-]
That's a very loose definition of "easy"
reply
geocrasher
4 days ago
[-]
Use whatever word you like better. Straightforward, Simple, uncomplicated not difficult.

Seriously, set up a new phone, new number, new Gmail account, new IG/FB accounts, use them a week before you leave- tell your friends "Follow me here for my trip!" and have your phone number forwawrded. Put a few contacts in it. Done. Not a big deal at all for most technically competent people. That's us, right?

reply
johnchristopher
4 days ago
[-]
I have been trying to create a facebook account recently, for work, I didn't use my real name (I just needed a facebook account to follow some pages). I got flagged and now have to provide additional proof of identity. Same for IG. I don't think it's as easy as before to create a temp. facebook account. After setting it up you need to feed it right.
reply
tavavex
4 days ago
[-]
Luckily, temporary/fake FB accounts are less necessary nowadays than ever. Out of all of my extended social circle (techy university students), I don't know a single one who actively uses Facebook. I don't see why not having an account should be seen as bad or suspicious.
reply
dento
4 days ago
[-]
And when I have to access a 2FA protected account, like my bank or email, I do what?
reply
stronglikedan
4 days ago
[-]
Even easier: I keep my previous phone when I get a new phone, so it's just a matter of swapping a SIM card. Of course, my old phone was factory reset once I decided to keep the new phone, because I don't want it laying around with all my data even if it is just in my desk drawer.
reply
gwbas1c
4 days ago
[-]
I'm technically competent and that's a huge, huge deal for me. What you describe is 15-20 hours of work.

I'm far too busy to do that.

reply
chinchilla2020
4 days ago
[-]
That's how I feel as well. I have far too many cloud services I rely on. Not to mention the need to check in with my email for business/personal at least once a day.
reply
DowagerDave
4 days ago
[-]
This is ridiculous. Put aside the idea of purchasing a new phone for a trip, you then suggest setting up all new accounts and then "telling your friends" - how exactly? contact everyone from your "real" accounts and say add my fake account? What about when you come back - tell them "ok delete my fake account and add my real one"? which is which now, oh and how do you access all your real contacts, credentials, payment, etc that you needed during your trip? And I do this everytime I travel?

You seem to focus on the technical aspects but really gloss over the entire "create a duplicate online life every time you travel"

reply
geocrasher
4 days ago
[-]
Where did I say to do this every time you travel? I described the setup of such a phone. In fact if you had a second phone just for travel, who'd care? Not that big of a deal. Y'all are being pedantic.
reply
tavavex
4 days ago
[-]
Honestly, if you need your information to be secure to this of an extent, you should just use a dumbphone and skip all of these lengthy setup steps. And it's cheaper, too!
reply
bongobingo1
4 days ago
[-]
Just make sure you use it for a few days before hand so it doesn't appear to be a burner phone, lest you be considered suspicious and remanded for additional interrogation.
reply
op00to
4 days ago
[-]
My company requires us to use a "burner" phone and laptop when we travel internationally. I can helpfully print out the policy from the employee handbook and show it to the border guard. I'm not sure that's considered as suspicious as you think absent any other suspicious behaviors.
reply
gwbas1c
4 days ago
[-]
I think saying something like "I bought a cheap phone for the trip because I don't want to lose my good one." should be good enough?
reply
op00to
3 days ago
[-]
Simpler is better for these types of situations, so I agree!
reply
coldtea
4 days ago
[-]
>Just make sure you use it for a few days before hand so it doesn't appear to be a burner phone

Wouldn't they notice all your mail, call list, and other such accounts are from a few days?

reply
GJim
4 days ago
[-]
> use it for a few days before hand so it doesn't appear to be a burner phone

No need to bother.

Most companies of any size, and us civil servants, have policies to travel with burner phones/laptops when crossing (even some benign) international boarders and/or entering certain countries.

Frankly, it is so commonplace, it is not remotely suspicious to travel with a burner.

reply
ta1243
4 days ago
[-]
Like a Galaxy Note?
reply
helsinkiandrew
4 days ago
[-]
Or have a burner iCloud/Google account setup with just the apps you need for the flight and reinstall your phone when you get there?
reply
KermitTheFrog
4 days ago
[-]
Samsung: Hold my beer, I have a nice phone to you.
reply
seydor
4 days ago
[-]
That's too much work - we should use AI to preemptively scan the phones for illegal thoughts
reply
Hizonner
4 days ago
[-]
Before any international travel:

1. Wipe phone 2. Install goatse wallpaper

reply
tgsovlerkhgsel
4 days ago
[-]
3. Get arrested for bringing "indecent material" or whatever they call that into the country.
reply
Hizonner
4 days ago
[-]
Well, yeah, given that it's Australia.

Slaughterhouse waste wallpaper should be OK though.

reply