Travelers Beware: Homeland Security is Googling You
Cleveland Leader November 5, 2007
We've all undoubtedly heard the warnings about being careful about the information we put online, as well as the stories of potential employers and college admissions and coaches checking up on people online through Google and social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. But here's a new one for you: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is also using this information to check up on individuals entering the country. "They" are watching you, and "they" know what you've been up to.
Andrew Feldman, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who's currently a psychotherapist in Vancouver, was recently detained for four hours, fingerprinted, and then barred entry into the United States after Homeland Security googled him and found an article he wrote in a literary and scientific journal in which he talked about using LSD and various other drugs in the 1960's. And even though he has no criminal record and says he hasn't used drugs since the 1970's, Feldmar must now get formal permission from the U.S. consul before entering the U.S.
Feldmar has been accustomed to visiting the U.S. about five or six times per year to visit his children, but last summer when he was pulled over for a random search, border patrol turned up online evidence that he had experimented with drugs for therapeutic research in the past.
Now nearly a year later, Feldmar has come to the conclusion that his banishment from the United States is permanent. He claims that the waiver process is exhausting, costly, and demeaning. His family and friends are devastated.
Feldmar's daughter, Soma, said: "My father was doing nothing wrong, illegal, suspicious, or at all deviant in any way, when he was trying to visit the U.S. In terms of family it really sucks. "
What's this mean for other people who've done questionable things in the past? Will an entire generation of hippies be barred from the U.S. for recreational drug use in 60's? Will journalists who've written less than flattering articles concerning the U.S. be stopped too? It's not clear where the line with be drawn, so take this advice: be careful what you share online.
Source: Cleveland Leader