An Iranian trying to enter the U.S. says border guards barred him from entering because his blog said he was based in New York.
Hossein Derakhshan, who writes a blog on Hoder.com, said in a post last week that he's "homeless" because he was prevented from re-entering the country. Derakhshan says he was born in Tehran and then moved to Toronto, Canada in December 2000.
The United States, of course, requires a visa for foreign citizens who want to live here permanently.
So when the border guards found a Newsweek magazine labeled with his name and a New York City address, coupled with the I-live-in-the-Big-Apple contents of his blog, they were suspicious and denied him entry for six months, Derakhshan says.
Reading blog entries while at the border may be new, but border guards have enjoyed Internet access for a while. (When I was traveling to Ottawa to speak at an academic conference, the guards verified my claim by checking the university's Web site.)
In addition, border guards have been known to investigate the contents of a computer.
One report this year from a U.S.-based marijuana activist says U.S. border guards looked through her digital camera snapshots and likely browsed through her laptop's contents.
Kenneth Cukier, now a London-based correspondent for The Economist magazine, once reported similar first-hand experiences, and a 1998 article in the New York Times describes how British customs scan laptops for sexual material.