I finally reached back to Perth from Convergence in New Orleans, after the 23 hour flight time, and the 8 hours of layover. I was looking forward to a shower and hitting the bed, but the friendly Australian Customers and Border security wanted to spend the additional time with me. I am pretty used to the long conversations – I know I look different, and I am totally in favour of any and all profiling. I would protect my home at any cost.
Additionally, I have actually seen the Border Security TV show a couple of times, and have seen the kind of funny things people try to do. So I was only feeling sorry for the poor officer who was going through each and every item in my bags including my smelly socks, and the undergarments for the past week! Yikes!
One of the agents came up and started browsing my iPad. Now my iPad is an extremely personal belonging. Recently a friend asked what one thing would you grab if your house was on fire – and I said ‘my iPad’. Rubal is still pissed off about that answer.
So when the agent kept browsing my iPad for 10 minutes, with the screen away from me – I was extremely flustered. I told him that my iPad has some extremely personal stuff – my financials, my personal notes, my emails. I was told – “Don’t worry”. I waited a bit more – reminded myself they are just doing their job – and when they finally cleared everything – moved on.
On the way back I was thinking – I finally understood the “invasion of privacy” everybody keeps talking about. These guys didn’t need a warrant – and were basically reading my emails, watching my personal pictures for 15 minutes. So I came in and started reading about this.
Apparently, people have had much worse experiences. The Ombudsman have actually published a 38 page report, in 2010 - ADMINISTRATION OF COERCIVE POWERS IN PASSENGER PROCESSING, which also includes responses from the Australian Customs and Border Security.
People have complained about having the files from their computer copied over. For some people, the electronic devices including their cell phones have been confiscated for a month! There are detailed responses for the individual complaints – which give a good background as to why this is necessary, and why no explanation can be provided. I’ll let you read the document in detail if something like this bothers you – like it bothered me for a little while. I am now at peace again.
Meanwhile Rubal on hearing the story told me – the way you look after 2 days of traveling (like a shabby smuggler) … I would stop you for questioning as well.