A speaker at last month's InfoSecurity conference was barred from entering the U.S. and was turned back to Canada at New York's JFK airport.
Jeff Posluns, the chief executive of Montreal-based SecuritySage, an information security consultancy and software company, was due to speak on the subject of data risk management and flew into the U.S. from Toronto on the morning of December 9.
He then spent the next eight hours waiting for a clearance to enter the U.S. That clearance never came and he was on a flight back to Canada at 5.45 pm.
Posluns said the Customs and Border protection agency staff objected to the fact he was coming into the country to speak at a conference without having a TN1 visa, which enables Canadians to work in the U.S.
Even though conference officials faxed a letter to JFK stating Posluns was not being paid for his speech, clearance was still withheld.
Posluns said that he had travelled to the U.S. at least a dozen times so far this year and had never previously experienced such a problem. "Sometimes, security doesn't like the technical toys I carry around, but I have never before been harassed," he stated.
The whole time he was waiting at JFK, he was given only a bottle of water and ate a piece of cake his mother had given him the previous evening.
Posluns said he found the whole escapade frustrating and believed that security people are watched more closely than any other when they enter the U.S. from Canada and Europe.
Janet Rappaport, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection at JFK, said that she could not discuss any incidents at the airport for privacy reasons. She added that if Posluns had any complaints, he should write to the Port Director there.