Last month I took a stab at the Bahamas (The Bahamas – Is It On Your Bucket List? Safe Place To Visit?). I knew it was not that gay friendly and I saw a little of that first hand. Before going, I had thought about deleting a good amount of my pics, apps, and what not, anything that would flag me as being a sexually active homosexual, but I refrained. I thought I would be okay and I was.
What I didn't think of was deleting it all before I came back into the United States. There shouldn't be an issue with a gay man entering the United States, right? Oh, so wrong.
A Vancouver man was denied entry into the United States after a US Customs and Border Patrol officer read his profiles on the gay hookup app Scruff and the website BBRT.
The officer suspected the man was a sex worker because he found messages from the man saying he was “looking for loads,” and assumed it meant he was soliciting sex for cash.
While the misunderstanding might sound funny, it underscores the bitter reality that non-Americans have very few rights at the border, and that even suspicion of criminal behaviour can be used to deny non-Americans entry.
André, a 30-year-old Vancouver set decorator who declined to give his full name for fear of retaliation from US Customs, describes the experience as “humiliating.”
When the officer asked him what he meant by “looking for loads,” André says he tried to explain, but the officer kept grilling him. – dailyxtra.com
There's more to André's story over at Daily Xtra, even more about his second attempt to come into the U.S. with much of the sex stuff wiped from his phone, which just lead him to getting into more trouble since it was too clean compared to the last time.
So flying from Canada to the United States can be worse than flying from a homophobic island nation to the U.S.? Apparently so. I most likely would have been fine since I was an American citizen while André was not.
What is a sexually active gay man supposed to do when he travels internationally? Watch his word usage? Leave the sex apps at home?
There are several websites that offer advice to protect the privacy of your data at the border, but ultimately, if US Customs officers want your data, they will either get it or keep you out of the country. You can limit the risk to your privacy by not traveling with your devices or deleting apps, messages and photos from your devices, and logging out of social media sites before you travel.
“For Scruff members traveling to a country that may demand access to profiles and social media apps before entry, simply deleting the app and reinstalling upon re-entry is always an option,” says Scruff CEO Eric Silverberg. “Scruff synchronizes your profile to the cloud, so after reinstalling you may login to regain access to your messages, favourites, albums, etc.” – dailyxtra.com
Looking for love in all the wrong places? Just put a hold on it while traveling. Airport bathroom sex is not worth missing your flight and being banned from entrance into another country.
What precautions if any do you take with your phone and its apps when you travel?