Groups Decry Trump Plan to Demand Social Media Passwords at US Border


Raising concern about the violations of privacy occurring in the name of U.S. border security, a coalition of consumer rights groups on Tuesday launched a new campaign opposing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) so-called “extreme vetting” practice that requires travelers to reveal their social media passwords.

“Asking people to hand over the passwords to their accounts will make all of us less safe, not more safe.” —Evan Greer, Fight for the Future“Even if you support ‘extreme vetting,’ password for entry is an extremely bad idea that sacrifices privacy and digital security for political posturing and ‘security theater,'” said Nathan White, senior legislative director at Access Now, one of the 29 organizations launching the ‘Fly Don’t Spy‘ campaign. 

“We’re launching this campaign today to make it clear to Secretary John Kelly that we will not tolerate discrimination or a reckless disregard for privacy and cybersecurity,” White added, inviting others to include their name on a petition directed at the DHS chief.

The campaign was launched the same day that Kelly gave a speech in Washington, D.C. defending his tactics. Since his confirmation, Kelly has overseen implementation of President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration policies, which include the currently-defunct ban on individuals from majority-Muslim nations, the mass-deportation of immigrants, and stepped-up border security which many say unfairly targets Muslim travelers.

According to the right-leaning Washington Times, Kelly also accused the Obama administration of “politically meddling” in a way that “discouraged” DHS employees from carrying out their jobs. Further, he reportedly “said he and President Trump have made a decision to free up agents to enforce the laws as written, and he said he and his department won’t apologize for that.”

Rights groups are particularly concerned about a plan that would make certain travelers “disclose their social media handles and passwords and answer questions about ideology as a condition of admission to the country,” Jameel Jaffer, founding director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, wrote last week.

“The aim,” Jaffer continued, “is to empower consular and border officials to ensure that would-be visitors to the United States embrace American values, a concept that the Trump administration has not defined.”

Jaffer continued:

Investing consular and border officials with the authority to vet visitors for disfavored political and religious beliefs is ill-advised. The exclusions will be capricious and discriminatory.  They will have a chilling effect on speech and inquiry, both outside and within the United States. Foreign nationals who are contemplating visiting the United States will hesitate to write things that border agents might misinterpret, or to explore ideas online that border agents might view with suspicion.  Americans can’t ultimately be excluded for declining to answer border agents’ questions about their beliefs, but Americans considering overseas travel may nonetheless self-censor for similar reasons.

Notably, Kelly defended the idea, telling senators on the Homeland Security committee recently, “If [travellers] don’t cooperate…they can go back.”

“Asking people to hand over the passwords to their accounts will make all of us less safe, not more safe,” said Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, another member of the Fly Don’t Spy coalition.

“Not only does it undermine our basic right to privacy and have a chilling effect on free speech,” she continued, “but it will inevitably make our information more vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, and stalkers. Targeting people for this type of surveillance based on their religion or country of origin is clearly a form of discrimination.”

Via Common Dreams. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.

  • hvaiallverden

    Isnt it fascinating, they creates and maintains an row of people that they claim did terror attacks, when we know most where false flags, aka Boston and so on to the “guns, gays and Muslim” Orlando so called attack, witch turned out to be bullshit, but somehow this are used as an exuse, to manufacture heighten level of stupid paranoia, and to then claim our passwords would help, when they know that this is bullshit they still go for it.

    Tanks, wankers, you make it easy to decide to never go to your bonkers banana republic, not only do you fiddle my ass or even finger f…. our children, but now, your sickos wants everything, to see what, if we are terrorists, huh.



  • Masdar

    Don’t worry the next thing they are going to do is put a fence around the U.S. to keep people in. Isn’t that what they do in North Korea?

  • Michael McNulty

    I can understand people traveling to the US to see family or for business but not for a holiday. After 9/11 it soon became clear the US was becoming authoritarian, which is always just the first step to becoming a totalitarian state. Once a nation starts on that path it can never just stop.

    • PJ London

      Nonsense, if my American relatives want to see me, they can visit me.
      I visited in 1984/5, USA, the nicest individuals on earth, with the herd mentality of lemmings and the group identity of vultures.

  • gmatch

    Haha, even if someone does not use social media? Guess a few fake e-mail addresses will do.