Privacy SOS

Programmer and activist interrogated at the border

Apparently the Department of Homeland security can't figure out how to crack CryptoCat, a free, encrypted web chat service. The programmer and digital freedom activist who designed it, Nadim Kobeissi, wrote the following tweets today describing his experience getting detained and interrogated by DHS agents at the border:

An "SSSS" stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection or Secondary Security Screening Selectee — unfortunate souls who having been marked as such are subject to extensive searches and interrogations. Muslims have for years complained of time and again receiving SSSS stamps and the subsequent "special" treatment, absent any wrongdoing whatsoever or clearly articulated path to correct the recurring 'mistake'.

Today's border interrogation about Kobeissi's encryption program raises troubling questions about the government's claimed powers at the border. The ACLU of Massachusetts is currently suing the Department of Homeland security after agents confiscated programmer and activist David House's electronics upon his return to the country. The agents interrogated House about his protected political activities, which included establishing with others the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Special border rules shouldn't grant the government authority to skirt the Fourth Amendment or subject people to political interrogations. Stay tuned for more on our House case to see if we'll have success in challenging these practices.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.