Apple employee assailed by U.S. Customs, ACLU complaint claims

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2
Apple employee Andreas Gal, former executive of Apple acquisition Silk Labs, was allegedly harangued and penalized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials when he demurred to device search requests.

Silk Labs
Andreas Gal co-founded AI startup Silk Labs, which was acquired by Apple in 2018.


Gal's run-in with CBP was detailed in an American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California complaint filed on Tuesday, reports Fast Company.

According to the filing, Gal was stopped at an unnamed checkpoint and questioned about his work and advocacy for online privacy. Whether officials followed the line of questioning before or after it was established that Gal was an Apple employee is unknown. It is also unclear where Gal was traveling to or from when he was stopped by CBP officers.

Officials subsequently requested passwords to access Gal's Apple-issued phone and computer, presumably an iPhone and Mac. As the hardware, and contents therein, are covered by a nondisclosure agreement, Gal asked if he could speak with Apple or a lawyer prior to handing over the information. The request was declined and Gal was threatened with prosecution, the report said.

CBP allowed Gal to pass, but confiscated his Global Entry card and said he would be removed from the expedited screening program.

"CBP's baseless detention and intrusive interrogation of Andreas Gal and the attempted search of his devices violated his Fourth Amendment rights," said William Freeman, ACLU of Northern California senior counsel, in a statement. "Furthermore, CBP's policies lack protections for First Amendment rights by allowing interrogation and device searches that may be based on a traveler's political beliefs, activism, nation of origin, or identity."

Gal came to Apple through the acquisition of Silk Labs, a startup focused on the development of on-device artificial intelligence technology. Previously Mozilla's chief technology officer, Gal teamed up with fellow Mozilla platform engineer Chris Jones and Qualcomm alum Michael Vines to form Silk Labs in 2015.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 951member
    Not sure that NDAs wash when law enforcement is involved. 
  • Reply 2 of 52
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,861member
    hentaiboy said:
    Not sure that NDAs wash when law enforcement is involved. 
    At the same time, you're immediately put in a tough spot if you're unsure of what to do which is most likely why he wanted to speak with some at Apple and/or a lawyer. Do I give everything up and risk losing my job, or what? 

    Also, just because its law enforcement, doesn't give them the right to just search someone's property for very little to no reason. They're not above the law...they're there to enforce the law using legal means (proper policies and procedures). 
    edited April 2 JWSCseanismorrisStrangeDaysleavingthebiggmagman1979repressthisGeorgeBMacronndysamoriabbh
  • Reply 3 of 52
    Requesting to talk to a lawyer is the correct decision, and his right.  Who knows what happens to the data after law enforcement exams/copies it...

    The request might also be unlawful, the fact that CBP resorted to threats after he requested to speak to a lawyer suggested it was.

    I’m hearing frequently that business people are refusing to come to the US on business lately.  This is a US citizen being harassed, so their concerns are valid.  The people that do come wipe everything before going through the boarder.  CBP has also been requesting/demanding social media passwords... it’s getting close to 1984 out there.
    viclauyycbageljoeymagman1979jdwchiadecoderringGeorgeBMacdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 52
    Requesting to talk to a lawyer is the correct decision, and his right.  Who knows what happens to the data after law enforcement exams/copies it...

    The request might also be unlawful, the fact that CBP resorted to threats after he requested to speak to a lawyer suggested it was.

    I’m hearing frequently that business people are refusing to come to the US on business lately.  This is a US citizen being harassed, so their concerns are valid.  The people that do come wipe everything before going through the boarder.  CBP has also been requesting/demanding social media passwords... it’s getting close to 1984 out there.
  • Reply 5 of 52
    Requesting to talk to a lawyer is the correct decision, and his right.  Who knows what happens to the data after law enforcement exams/copies it...

    The request might also be unlawful, the fact that CBP resorted to threats after he requested to speak to a lawyer suggested it was.

    I’m hearing frequently that business people are refusing to come to the US on business lately.  This is a US citizen being harassed, so their concerns are valid.  The people that do come wipe everything before going through the boarder.  CBP has also been requesting/demanding social media passwords... it’s getting close to 1984 out there.
    aegean
  • Reply 6 of 52
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,358member
    It seems that customs is a legal twilight zone - I’ve read several reports of costoms agents performing what would clearly be illegal searches in any other circumstance and people seem to have very little recourse. 
    JFC_PAchiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 52
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,160member
    macxpress said:
    hentaiboy said:
    Not sure that NDAs wash when law enforcement is involved. 
    At the same time, you're immediately put in a tough spot if you're unsure of what to do which is most likely why he wanted to speak with some at Apple and/or a lawyer. Do I give everything up and risk losing my job, or what? 

    Also, just because its law enforcement, doesn't give them the right to just search someone's property for very little to no reason. They're not above the law...they're there to enforce the law using legal means (proper policies and procedures). 
    CBP does have the right to search someone's property if they are entering the country. They don't need a reason. Fourth Amendment protections don't apply at ports of entry. It's like that with pretty much any border services agency in any country. They have the right to search someone's property when you enter a country. 
    jimh2ArloTimetravelerberndog
  • Reply 8 of 52

    CBP does have the right to search someone's property if they are entering the country. They don't need a reason. Fourth Amendment protections don't apply at ports of entry. It's like that with pretty much any border services agency in any country. They have the right to search someone's property when you enter a country. 
    And when it happens to you, you'll be screaming four shades of holy hell. So much for the country of "don't tread on me."

    And sooo many bureaucratic little Eichmanns in the CBP. 
    DAalsethviclauyycmagman1979chiarepressthisdecoderringGeorgeBMacchasmdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 52
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 319member
    Approaching the U. S. border? Send everything to a secure cloud server and wipe your devices down to factory spec. with maybe your music library intact.  Reload once safely through. 

    Now that’s just a horrible situation. 

    “Seem” to have little legal recourse is just how they like it. Determining what is bluff and bluster and what is the actual law? Obscure as hell.  And if your name (even if it’s not actually you) is on one of their little lists? Having a lot of spare time built into your travel schedule would be prudent. 
    edited April 2 GeorgeBMacronndysamoriacgWerkswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 52
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,160member

    CBP does have the right to search someone's property if they are entering the country. They don't need a reason. Fourth Amendment protections don't apply at ports of entry. It's like that with pretty much any border services agency in any country. They have the right to search someone's property when you enter a country. 
    And when it happens to you, you'll be screaming four shades of holy hell. So much for the country of "don't tread on me."

    And sooo many bureaucratic little Eichmanns in the CBP. 
    I've had my stuff searched before returning to the USA and while entering other countries. I'm not taking sides, just stating CBP does have the authority to search anyone for no reason. 
    edited April 2 berndog
  • Reply 11 of 52
    macxpress said:
    hentaiboy said:
    Not sure that NDAs wash when law enforcement is involved. 
    At the same time, you're immediately put in a tough spot if you're unsure of what to do which is most likely why he wanted to speak with some at Apple and/or a lawyer. Do I give everything up and risk losing my job, or what? 

    Also, just because its law enforcement, doesn't give them the right to just search someone's property for very little to no reason. They're not above the law...they're there to enforce the law using legal means (proper policies and procedures). 
    CBP does have the right to search someone's property if they are entering the country. They don't need a reason. Fourth Amendment protections don't apply at ports of entry. It's like that with pretty much any border services agency in any country. They have the right to search someone's property when you enter a country. 
    It’s not that simple.  Requesting access to people’s passwords and data goes beyond what was intended.  

    No one has any problem with them searching for drugs or weapons at the border.

    How would you like going to China and having all your phone and laptop contents copied and reviewed?  Do you have any “personal” photos or videos on there?  If it’s a business visit, I hope you don’t have anything confidential...  

    What happens if you work for a company that has defense contracts?  It doesn’t matter if it’s a family vacation, sometimes you need access to your work if something comes up.

    People have all kinds of things that should be private unless a crime has been suspected of being committed, and that data should be going (requested) through the courts.
    viclauyycchiajbdragondecoderringGeorgeBMacronndysamoria
  • Reply 12 of 52
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 137member
    macxpress said:
    hentaiboy said:
    Not sure that NDAs wash when law enforcement is involved. 
    At the same time, you're immediately put in a tough spot if you're unsure of what to do which is most likely why he wanted to speak with some at Apple and/or a lawyer. Do I give everything up and risk losing my job, or what? 

    Also, just because its law enforcement, doesn't give them the right to just search someone's property for very little to no reason. They're not above the law...they're there to enforce the law using legal means (proper policies and procedures). 
    CBP does have the right to search someone's property if they are entering the country. They don't need a reason. Fourth Amendment protections don't apply at ports of entry. It's like that with pretty much any border services agency in any country. They have the right to search someone's property when you enter a country. 
    It’s not that simple.  Requesting access to people’s passwords and data goes beyond what was intended.  

    No one has any problem with them searching for drugs or weapons at the border.

    How would you like going to China and having all your phone and laptop contents copied and reviewed?  Do you have any “personal” photos or videos on there?  If it’s a business visit, I hope you don’t have anything confidential...  

    What happens if you work for a company that has defense contracts?  It doesn’t matter if it’s a family vacation, sometimes you need access to your work if something comes up.

    People have all kinds of things that should be private unless a crime has been suspected of being committed, and that data should be going (requested) through the courts.
    As for China many companies consider electronics taken there to be one-time use. The devices are destroyed when they return to the US due to the potential for surveillance devices being unknowingly installed. No executive would ever take an electronic device to China with sensitive information on it.
  • Reply 13 of 52
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,755member
    macxpress said:
    hentaiboy said:
    Not sure that NDAs wash when law enforcement is involved. 
    At the same time, you're immediately put in a tough spot if you're unsure of what to do which is most likely why he wanted to speak with some at Apple and/or a lawyer. Do I give everything up and risk losing my job, or what? 

    Also, just because its law enforcement, doesn't give them the right to just search someone's property for very little to no reason. They're not above the law...they're there to enforce the law using legal means (proper policies and procedures). 
    CBP does have the right to search someone's property if they are entering the country... They have the right to search someone's property when you enter a country. 
    I’m not sure if this applies. Reading the article, there is no indication that he was crossing the border—just that he crossed a checkpoint. From what I understand, CPB has incredibly broad searching powers within some ridiculous distance of the border—100 miles comes to mind. 

    Its possible he was just on his way from one domestic location to another and got caught in a checkpoint. If that is the case, are we still ok with having to have all your devices wiped before setting out?  
    GeorgeBMacberndogdysamoria
  • Reply 14 of 52
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,160member
    bageljoey said:
    macxpress said:
    hentaiboy said:
    Not sure that NDAs wash when law enforcement is involved. 
    At the same time, you're immediately put in a tough spot if you're unsure of what to do which is most likely why he wanted to speak with some at Apple and/or a lawyer. Do I give everything up and risk losing my job, or what? 

    Also, just because its law enforcement, doesn't give them the right to just search someone's property for very little to no reason. They're not above the law...they're there to enforce the law using legal means (proper policies and procedures). 
    CBP does have the right to search someone's property if they are entering the country... They have the right to search someone's property when you enter a country. 
    I’m not sure if this applies. Reading the article, there is no indication that he was crossing the border—just that he crossed a checkpoint. From what I understand, CPB has incredibly broad searching powers within some ridiculous distance of the border—100 miles comes to mind. 

    Its possible he was just on his way from one domestic location to another and got caught in a checkpoint. If that is the case, are we still ok with having to have all your devices wiped before setting out?  
    If you are going from one domestic location to another, you won't go through customs. Andreas Gal was checked at SFO returning from Europe, so CBP did have the right under current laws to check all his devices. I get CBP has to check electronic devices, but downloading all the data from a returning citizen is something that should require a warrant imo. 
  • Reply 15 of 52
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,160member

    macxpress said:
    hentaiboy said:
    Not sure that NDAs wash when law enforcement is involved. 
    At the same time, you're immediately put in a tough spot if you're unsure of what to do which is most likely why he wanted to speak with some at Apple and/or a lawyer. Do I give everything up and risk losing my job, or what? 

    Also, just because its law enforcement, doesn't give them the right to just search someone's property for very little to no reason. They're not above the law...they're there to enforce the law using legal means (proper policies and procedures). 
    CBP does have the right to search someone's property if they are entering the country. They don't need a reason. Fourth Amendment protections don't apply at ports of entry. It's like that with pretty much any border services agency in any country. They have the right to search someone's property when you enter a country. 
    It’s not that simple.  Requesting access to people’s passwords and data goes beyond what was intended.  

    No one has any problem with them searching for drugs or weapons at the border.

    How would you like going to China and having all your phone and laptop contents copied and reviewed?  Do you have any “personal” photos or videos on there?  If it’s a business visit, I hope you don’t have anything confidential...  

    What happens if you work for a company that has defense contracts?  It doesn’t matter if it’s a family vacation, sometimes you need access to your work if something comes up.

    People have all kinds of things that should be private unless a crime has been suspected of being committed, and that data should be going (requested) through the courts.
    It really is simple. Entering any country in the world, you might have your devices checked. Having said that, I get where you are coming from. Downloading someones data from their phone or laptop goes too far in my opinion. If you are a citizen returning from overseas, CBP should require a warrant in order to copy your data. Foreigners, that's a different story. The huge problem is until the Supreme Court makes a ruling, CBP will continue to have broad powers. I know lower federal courts have issued rulings, but they've been all over the place. 

    I've been to China many times. I always carry a burner phone with nothing personal on it when I have visited there. 
  • Reply 16 of 52
    jdwjdw Posts: 742member
    Some may find this interesting with regard to the 4th Amendment and ports of entry...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception
    boboliciousdysamoria
  • Reply 17 of 52
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,650member
    The ACLU is usually on the wrong side of things, so I don't see this as something that concerns me.

    If they feel they have a case, then go sue.
  • Reply 18 of 52
    hentaiboy said:
    Not sure that NDAs wash when law enforcement is involved. 
    I don't believe it's a crime to withhold your password. anyone know for sure?
  • Reply 19 of 52
    jdw said:
    Some may find this interesting with regard to the 4th Amendment and ports of entry...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception
    Thank you for this link !
  • Reply 20 of 52
    riverkoriverko Posts: 65member
    So, if I understood well all various articles I read - if you are a criminal and get arrested, no one can force you to unlock your device. If you are a tourist and want to visit USA, you have to unlock your device... So criminals have more rights that legal tourists/visitors... Congratulations...
    dysamoriamuthuk_vanalingam
Sign In or Register to comment.