Based on my long-ago research, I don't think the TSA
will ever be *completely* unavoidable, short of the USA
becoming like the GDR, wherein half the population was
being employed by the State to surveill the other half.
During Ashcroft's reign, they publicised their intent to
more closely track legally-present aliens,
by recording everytime an alien *left* the USA,
so that they could match the arrivals and departures
in order to know who's still "inside" at any given moment.
I'm still puzzled that I never saw any sign of civil
question, to wit: how can this be accomplished without
barking "Papieren, bitte" to *everyone* who leaves?
When a traveler walks through a border checkpoint to
Canada or embarks on a Caribbean cruise, how can TSA know
if they've missed a departing alien, unless they
ascertain the status of *all* who are departing?
(Yes, I realize that they could slice-&-dice the USA data
with Canada's entry records, but that's an ad-hoc answer
which misses the point.)
So, I emailed TSA/DHS to ask this, but received no reply.
Then I looked at the Canadian gov sites to determine *their*
regs for entry. As it happens, they don't require (or at least
didn't then) that you enter explicitly by passing through
a USA border post. All they required was that,
if you happened to walk across at some unmonitored location,
that you immediately precede directly to the nearest relevant
Then I exchanged some email with Hasbrouck or Gilmore (probably
Hasbrouck) to ask: is it in fact illegal for a USA citizen
to leave in a manner which circumvents tracking by the USA?
If I (silly example) walked across to Mexico unobserved,
obtained visas to proceed to Venezuela and points beyond,
and then one day returned to the USA by commercial jet from
Azerbaijan to JFK, upon arrival could I be arrested
or non-trivially detained *merely* because a
data cross-check revealed that I had been gadding about without
the USA having any prior idea of my departure and movements?
I don't remember receiving (from anyone I asked) any answer
which even remotely approached saying, "Yes, you'll be in
violation of [foo]."
So I started thinking more elaborately about this. I should
mention at this point, that I haven't flown, or used any other
transport requiring I.D., since 9/11 -- not from fear of
accidents or terrorism, but because I simply made up my mind
that I wouldn't travel by any means which allows *this* nation
to directly track my movements in realtime.
After some additional research, I concluded that it *will* be
possible -- not *convenient*, but possible -- for me to travel,
(without yielding that principle), not to absolutely any
country, but to any country where I'm likely to want to go,
even if it requires bribing the captain of a cargo vessel
passing from Brasil to Liberia.
[btw, this is one reason I look at TI.org's annual ranking
of corruption in countries. Corruption can be your friend.
Within the USA, traveling unmonitored is easier.
And getting to the EU through the Bering Strait and Russia
is a particularly knotty problem. Russian regs are much
stricter, and, unlike Canada, one can't merely make a
water approach and proceed to the nearest control point.
For the record, I'm hoping that my return through a USA
border control *does* provoke trouble, in order to
force the issue for public examination & discussion.
btw, I'm puzzled by protektor's saying "vans with the
full body scanners in them so they can scan cars & people
without anyone knowing". I can't picture how it's
possible to effectively scan *one* moving vehicle with the
airport body-scanner technology, even if driving the van in
parallel, let alone *all* traffic, let alone scanning
*through* the vehicle's metallic body to see the contents.
As for boats, monitoring entrance and exit is feasible
with commmercial passenger vessels, but surely not with
all the private pleasure-craft passing in and out of
Finally, two points addressed to civil libertarians
(among whom I count myself)...
1) Don't bother trying to engage with the kind of poster
who says things like, "What are you afraid of, what are
you hiding?", and "**I'VE** got nothing to hide,
so I'm not concerned." As the saying goes, it merely
frustrates you and pisses off the pig.
THEY. JUST. DON'T. GET. IT.
2) One of the most valuable things one can do to retard
the creeping security / surveillance state, is to start
prominently and vociferously promoting, using,
and encouraging and assisting your friends, family and
colleagues, to use email encryption. It doesn't have to
be TOR-style end-to-end encryption including headers,
or VOIP encryption -- at least not to start.
But it must be locally-based message-body encryption
which doesn't rely on the assurances of commercial
services such as Google and Skype (surely RIM's troubles
of 2010 demonstrate this).
We need to start shifting people to a mindset of
privacy-protection, particularly in the form of
encryption, as the *norm*, and not as evidence of
TFH goofiness or nefarious intent (as was actually
declared by a USA court in a criminal trial).
The best thing we can do to counter NSA drag-netting
of global Net traffic, is to make the vast majority of
private communications unreadable.
And then let's just see how "they" try to convince
the Supremes, to square the attempted introduction
of RIPA-style laws with the First & Fourth Amendments,
or to make open-source encryption source into contraband.