NASA's cyber security experts are currently investigating the privacy violation against one of their scientists at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. On January 30, Sidd Bikkannavar, a US-born NASA scientist, was detained by US Border Control. He was just returning home from his vacation in Chile where he was racing solar-powered cars. He was forced to give up his phone and PIN code, even though this phone was issued by NASA. It is against policy for anyone to take his phone as it contains classified information.

Detention for Bikkannavar

Without being told why he was being detained, Border Control officers took Bikkannavar to a private room and demanded that he give them his PIN code. The officers were aware that he is a government employee who is registered on the Global Entry Program. This means that he is pre-approved and is labeled as a low-risk traveler. This cellular device is the property of NASA, and it is part of his job description to protect its contents. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is the department he works for, is currently running forensics on the phone to see if anything was illegally installed or compromised. The officers had made a copy of everything on his phone, which is a major security concern.

Bikkannavar has since deactivated his Facebook due to concerns that it may have been compromised as well.

Muslim ban and immigration

This invasion of privacy and government policy came only a few short days after Trump issued a travel ban on multiple Middle Eastern and African countries. Bikkannavar is a US-born citizen, but he believes that he was targeted because of his name.

The name Bikkannavar originates from India, which still doesn't make sense because India is not on the list for the travel ban. US Border Control officers refused to tell him why he was being detained. This incident not only brings up immigration, religious, and racial concerns, but also concerns about the field of science.

It is no secret that Trump has been targeting multiple science-based branches such as the National Parks Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. The People's Climate March is set to take place on April 29 with the intent of bringing science and conservation back into the forefront of policy making. The next move from the Trump administration is unclear as of now.