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I’m in the Little Rock airport on my way home. After having an abysmal travel day yesterday that started off at 5:30am with me being detained By U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the Toronto airport, I finally got to Little Rock around 4pm, made it to the Startup Arkansas event around 5:30pm, and did two hours of open office hours, a Startup Communities talk, and general Q&A. When I got back to my hotel room around 10:30pm and crawled into bed after hanging around with the entrepreneurs at a great after party, the crappy US CBP experience had been washed off of me. I had a great evening, and, like entrepreneurs everywhere, the people I got to hang out with in Arkansas are optimistic, fun, excited about what they are doing, and building the future. And they like beer, which I needed after a very long day.
I had two separate bad dreams last night about being detained. The first was a strange, complex one that is now fuzzy in my head, but happened in a futuristic, very dark setting. The second is still fresh – I was with Dick Costolo (Twitter CEO) somewhere in San Francisco and we were detained by military people who put us in a room, took away our iPhones because they were afraid Dick would start a revolution since he controlled Twitter, and made us sit silently back to back. I woke up before that dream resolved.
When I woke up from my second dream, I realized I was wondering why you are forbidden from using your iPhone in US Immigration areas. I notice this all the time when I enter the US – you go through a door into where the giant immigration room is and you are bombarded with the universal “no phone” sign. Then, when you break this rule and tweet a photo of the “no phone” sign, one of the CBP people inevitably comes over to you and tells you that you can’t use your phone there.
Yesterday, after I ended up in what I have been told is called the “secondary” room, I quickly sent Amy and Kelly an email telling them where I was. I then tweeted that I had been detained by CBP. This took about 30 seconds, at which point one of the CBP agents very aggressively told me that I couldn’t use my phone in this room.
I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask why, nor do I think it would have been particularly helpful. I’m sure the formal reason is something like “you are on government property and we get to set the rules on what you do” and then there is – if pushed – some separate justification about security. But I’ve used my iPhone when I was in the White House, I’ve taken a photos of Obama with it, I check in on FourSquare at various government buildings, and I have spent many mindless minutes waiting on a line for some government service somewhere using my iPhone. And some very creative people have videoed their own experience with CPB and DHS agents doing ridiculous things, making absurd statements, and demonstrating what happens when they don’t understand civil liberties and our constitution as well as the people they are trying to question.
Why am I forbidden from using it in an Immigration facility? Are they afraid of people videoing what they are doing? Are they worried that I’ll rally a twitter mob to break me out of the secondary detention area. Or are they just enjoying exercising their ability to eliminate my ability to communicate with the outside world?
I’m clearly still riled up about yesterday, although I’m mostly just sad about it. It’s horrifying to me how, as a government, we treat non-US citizens who are legally in this country. It’s also disgusting to me how difficult we make it for people to come into this country and startup businesses, which ironically is the foundation on which much of this country has been built. And now that I had a very direct and minor taste of it, I’m sad that we’ve let things get to this point.
Thanks for all the cell phone suggestions for my europe trip this summer. Of course, shortly after I wrote the post, Apple came out with an unlocked version of the iPhone 4 (which just showed up in my office) rendering many of the options (and presumably some of the companies) either obsolete or unnecessary.
However, I decided to take a different approach. I’m going to give the Nexus S another try. I’ve been using it since Friday and the most recent version is awesome. Almost all of the iPhone apps I rely on are available on Android and since I’m a Google Apps + Google Voice user, the integration is much nicer. So we’ll see how that goes.
In the mean time, I do need a recommendation for a SIM in Paris and in Tuscany. What’s the best local provider in each place?
I’m spending some time in Europe (Paris and Tuscany) this summer and trying to figure out the best cell phone approach for me and Amy. We are both iPhone users – me on AT&T and her on Verizon. In both cases, the “use your US iPhone in Europe” seems like a total fail on pricing so we are looking for other options. I’m also a Google Voice user (that’s my main phone number) so I’ve got more flexibility than she does. In both cases, we care about voice, data, and SMS, but don’t have to have an iPhone (e.g. Apps are nice to have but not critical).
Basically, I’m looking for solutions for three different approaches:
1. US iPhone user who uses her cell phone number as her primary phone number.
2. US iPhone user who has Google voice as his primary phone number.
3. US iPhone users who doesn’t care about the primary phone number.