An insecurity expert, who specialises in online privacy, keeps getting harrassed everytime he takes a flight and he does not know why.
Moxie Marlinspike told CNET that every time he flies on an international flight he gets detained and questioned and he appears to be on a “watch list” for domestic flights too.
He said that he is nothing to do with WikiLeaks, and is slightly critical of of the whistleblowing site.
However, he is mates with WikiLeaks volunteer and security researcher, Jacob Appelbaum. Appelbaum was detained by US agents after arriving in the USA. on an international flight in July.
Appelbaum’s laptop was searched and his mobile phones were confiscated permanently. Marlinspike’s name and phone number was in Appelbaum’s contact’s list.
Apparently other people who appeared in Appelbaum’s address book have encountered trouble at borders or in airports.
Marlinspike said his troubles started a few months ago. Before taking domestic flights, he found he was unable to print out his boarding pass and was locked out of the self check in kiosks until an airline representative made a phone call to get approval to override the lock, he said. He also said he is subject to secondary screenings.
Last week, while waiting at an airport gate in Frankfurt airport, a man who said he was from the US consulate, and who had a photo of Marlinspike, asked him where he had been,
Marlinspike told him that he had given a presentation at the Black Hat security show in Abu Dhabi and the man said he had to make a phone call to Washington, DC and then let him go a few minutes later.
On Monday, Marlinspike was seated on a plane at Kennedy airport for a flight to the Dominican Republic. As airline workers were preparing to shut the plane door, a TSA agent ran onto the plane and escorted Marlinspike off, he said. Agents patted him down before allowing him to get back on the plane.
Marlinspike, writes encryption apps for mobile devices, so all his gear is encrypted to the nines. He refused to tell anyone the passwords.
Marlinspike claimed that it all seems like part of some larger fishing expedition.They can’t get a warrant without suspicion. So, they wait for him to travel internationally because at the border they can do anything they want.
He said that the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has almost destroyed his ability to run a business with international customers.
He said it was impossible to travel internationally frequently, because every time you could miss your connection because you’re detained, and your laptop might be confiscated.
He also needs to buy new gear once it has been in the hands of the agents, because it might have keyloggers on it, or be otherwise compromised.