Homeland Security Detains Pro-Gaming Caster, Seizes Hardware

Homeland Security officers detailed pro-gaming web broadcaster Victor "Spooky" Fontanez and seized his equipment on Monday as he reentered the country following a fighting game championship in Toronto, Canada.

Team Sp00ky's laptop, mobile phone and two camcorders were seized, according to the Detention Notice and Custody Receipt for Detained Property issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

The laptop, which Fontanez and Team Sp00ky use to stream live game coverage and prepare videos from tournaments, contained about 200 hours of footage from multiple tournaments, Fontanez told Kotaku.

Fontanez said he was on a bus on his way back to his home in Brooklyn, New York about 3pm from the Toronto Fighting Game Championships 12 when the bus pulled in to the US Customs and Border Patrol Office in Buffalo, New York.

"The questioning began when after seeing one of my bags in the x-ray scanner they noticed the multitude of wires, extension cables and converters I was carrying," he said. "They asked me what I was carrying and seemed very suspicious when I mentioned that I had cameras.

Fontanez told Kotaku he was stopped, searched and questioned him about the equipment he had and what he was using it for. After questioning him, an officer confiscated his equipment and sent him on his way, he said.

Items seized by Homeland Security can be detained for up to 30 days, unless an ongoing investigation mandates a longer period of time. Kotaku has filed an Freedom of Information Act request with the department seeking more details about the seizure and the timing of the equipment's release.

[Thanks to everyone for the tips!]


Comments

    Land of the free hey?

      And the home of the afraid!

    Homeland Security seems mildly retarded.

    Without the mild.

    Extra spicy retarded.

    I'm a little curious how they could question him and not be satisfied that there is no reason to confiscate his equipment.

    Stay free America.

      The kind of extra spicy that leaves you with a sore rectum afterwards. That's homeland security!

        The kind of extra spicy that is not actually ingested normally, but rather is forced up your rectum with the finesse and grace of a bear on fire.

    Stuff like this makes me rage hard.
    When security are so caught up with their procedures and paranoia that they can't see past the 'rules' to look at what's in front of them: a guy who runs a webcasting show.
    How in the hell do you turn that into a homeland security threat?

    Hell they could just turn the bloody laptop on and look at the footage he had to see he was legit. It's that simple!
    *sigh*

      Did you know it's not very difficult to turn a laptop battery into a bomb?

      If you've never heard of webcasting, and some nervous looking kid has a whole bunch of stuff that could be potentially harmful, regardless of likelihood, you should do your job and get to the bottom of it.

      Of course, once we reach the line "You can go but we're keeping your stuff" you just become retarded.

      Lets hate for the right reasons, at the very least.

        The bit about laptop batteries might have some merit, but laptops are so commonplace that I'd love to see that argument used as the reason to confiscate someone's computer.

        If your job is look out for dangerous equipment that might be transported into the country you should know what is not dangerous. Like webcasting equipment. There's no real reason to suspect that stuff could be dangerous unless you have basically no knowledge of electronics or have such a great knowledge of electronics that you can make anything a weapon.

        Sure but I bet they don't confiscate every laptop that comes through.
        Also, what is suspicious about a camera?

    Lets get all the information first, before we wank on about homeland sucks, land of the free etc. etc.

      I'm going to agree with you, although I wonder if a news camera crew would have been stopped and had their equiptment confiscated.

        A news camera crew would have cleared it up pretty quickly and easily. Granted the majority of the clarity would be in the official looking letterhead and ID that anyone could have made, and anyone doing anything bad would be way more likely to go with a realistic cover story rather than the strange 'I use all this high quality/expensive equipment to film me and my friends playing video games'.

        I'm with Christian though. For all we know they turned on the laptop and the first video they saw was him standing around claiming Team Sp00ky was going to destroy its enemies in Toronto (I don't know Sp00ky's videos so that may be way off base).

      I'm sorry, but being somewhat familiar with Sp00ky's work I just cannot imagine a situation in which his equipment is relevant to anything that Homeland Security deals with.

      The only thing that should garner any sort of attention is the fact that the majority of the fighting game community are stoners. I don't see how you can link that with this.

      This is already a known issue that nobody seems to think is worth discussing. Homeland Security have the right to seize and not return ANY electronic equipment entering the USA. It's not law, it's their own policy and it came in a year or two ago. When it was brought up in Congress they were surprised to learn about it...

    someone tell me that this is just a joke and that homeland security isnt that fucking moronic.

    this is where you take them to court and and fuck em over. no judge could possible rule in favor of a government body when its this fucking obvious

    Indeed. This sort of stupidity just boils my potatoes.
    I am really glad I don't live in that f*cked up country.
    Enron raping Californias energy market, (free market fail), the outsourcing of "defence" and home security (Abu Ghraib, the B.A.R.T. problems), the economy of greed (banks bailed out while the citizens pay the bill, top earners tax rate low while middle income earners take the hit), free speech "curtailed" and protesters beaten and tear gased on Wall st.

    Seriously. I am sooooo glad I do not live in that tossed up, f*cked up, never come down world.

    Pretty baffling. One would think Homeland Security knew the difference between someone recording a games tournament and espionage.

    Just think about that homeland security guy from harold and kumar go to guantanamo bay.

    Only in America... until the Nanny State mentality spreads elsewhere.

    Sounds like a random bag search/check sent off some alarm bells for the over-paranoid customs agent(s).. nothing more than that.. no conspiracy.. just people doing their job. Now if they had let someone through without doing this and they decided to commit an act of terrorism, it would be a different story.

    I doubt they even bothered to turn the computers on during the initial investigation/siezure.

    Freedom is the just the space between the bars.

    Another angle on this is to blame Scarlett Johansson lol.

    What if they weren't homeland security and just dressed like them?
    Did he even ask for a warrant?

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