"Shall be secure… from searches"?

(this post is in English as I’ve already written the text in English for other purposes. For other readers, the headline refers to parts of the American Constitution.)

Finally home. The flight was, unfortunately, even worse than anticipated… the connections were so short, that in stopovers at both Seattle and Paris, I had to run full speed from the point of getting off the aircraft to my next gate, which in both places closed behind me. And it’s not like those terminals are small.

The luggage was delayed as well, but I got it two days later. This meant I couldn’t get out to my parents’ cottage, but had to stay in their city apartment for the time I had in Göteborg. I noticed the left lock on the largest bag appeared to have broken – the bag was strapped shut on that side with a prominent white packing strap, being mostly closed (there was a very small gap in one corner). I had no idea at the time who would be kind enough to make sure luggage was closed enough… and even take time to strap it? But still it surprised me – the locks on that bag had been robust. You need to push that particular lock in a little special way to close it properly, but it has never sprung open on its own before…? Maybe I need to replace that lock?

I was also surprised at how I had apparently opened a few packages (like one package of brochures) before packing them. I didn’t remember doing that, and it would have made no sense to do so. It wasn’t until I found the note in (inside!) my bag from Department of Homeland Security (or rather, a subcontractor) with the text “Your bag has been opened and searched. Any illegal materials have been turned over to authorities. Thank you for your cooperation.” that the penny finally dropped.

At this point I’m not sure whether I’m more annoyed at

  1. my luggage being delayed,
  2. the “thank you for your cooperation” style note of Department of Homeland Security, or
  3. the fact that the locks were not broken or tampered with (my bags were doubly locked – key and code).

Nothing seems to be missing from the bag, though… but it’s certainly the last time I ship my camera (with memory card), or any kind of sensitive data, outside of my personal control. It appears that locks on bags are mostly for decorative purposes.

UPDATE: Turns out more than one bag (at least two) contained the little note from DHS.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. Christopher Kullenberg

    I think number three is the worst one, because it may lead to total paranoia and distrust of government agencies. The positive task however, may be the insight that everything a despotic State is up for, may not be what you want to do as a free person.

  2. Anonymous

    I suggest you scan everything that was in your bags for RFID, transmitters and such.. or run clothes and such in the microvawe a second or two.

    You are a politician, and that is, from a democracy view by definition to be in the business of dissent. Who knows what theese thugs might have done if they decided to not like you? Maybe they could have put some narcotics or child-porn in your bags, and of course notified the customs at your destination.. Could have been a quick way of ending your career and and destroying your political authority, thereby effectively crushing a dissident. Rmember what country you where in, it is a country officially saying “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”, it is not a country where dissent, that is so important for domocracy, are welcome.


  3. Mind

    It sounds a bit paranoid but I agree with Steelneck, run the stuff in a microoven for a couple of seconds to destroy any rfid chip or anything else they may have planted.

  4. Rick Falkvinge » Blog Archive » On fundraising

    […] I didn’t find any annoying notes as I opened my luggage this […]

  5. Magnus

    This makes my blood boil.

    You obviously want to make file sharing legal and feel that anything anyone ever digitize is public domain. But when someone (DHS in this case) wants to go through your private belongings you talk about decency and how you felt your private space was invaded.

    Seriously?! You advocate stealing but when someone invades your privacy you run want society to respect you?

    Ridiculous and pathetic that is.

  6. notwist

    @Magnus: LOL

  7. Magnus2

    i agree with notwist, Magnus(not me) is a moron.

  8. Rick

    Magnus is not a moron. Morons by definition are about half as intelligent as ordinary average people. Magnus is not that smart.

    Magnus is either an imbecile or an idiot.

  9. […] att upptäcka att förpackningar har blivit öppnade sedan jag stängde väskorna, och därefter hittat små lappar i väskorna så småningom med texten “Din väska har öppnats och sökts igenom. Om vi […]

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