Schneier and the what-would-actually-happen fallacy

In an article on Wired, Bruce Schneier suggests encrypting your hard drive (e.g. using TrueCrypt) using one real password and one password unknown to you and only known to a close friend of yours. The idea is that you can then unlock your computer on board of a plane and use it for your work. After landing, you could delete your normal password, rendering the computer useless. The customs officials would either accept that you don’t know the key and let you go or confiscate your computer and send you home. “And that’s it.”

My take on this is that either happens what XKCD so funnily suggested (maybe with the possible variation of using – how is that called? enhanced interrogation techniques?). Or they will just make a “backup” of your hard drive and put a sticker on your passenger name record that says something like “if the suspect ever wants to enter our country, ask for the password.” Which would leave you in a situation where you couldn’t enter said country ever, ever again without risking detention and/or compromising your data. Even if that wasn’t possible now (e.g. because of stuff like laws preventing that from happening), there isn’t any guarantee that, some day in the future, this won’t be possible.

Bottom line: if you plan on legally entering paranoid countries, leave either your data behind or your privacy or your freedom.

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