Fly Don't Spy


The Department of Homeland Security is currently examining procedures to investigate travelers to the United States. In a congressional hearing, Secretary Kelly said they’re even considering forcing some travelers to provide their passwords to social media accounts as a condition to enter.

This would violate the right to privacy, undermine freedom of expression, and create numerous cyber security risks for all people.

Imagine visiting a country – to see family or take a vacation or do business – and being forced to hand over your Facebook username and password. That country’s agents would be able to read your private messages, see everything you’ve posted or shared for the benefit of your friends, what you like, what you’ve searched. What conclusions could they draw? Would they be accurate?

We don’t know what standards the agents would use to make decisions about whether you enter their country, or how they would evaluate the context of the information they see. What if a computer searches for keywords that raise alarms – turning your witty post into a security flag? Will your entry be dependent on which agent you happen to encounter?

What would happen to your data? That country would have your login information stored for future use. Would your social media data be shared with law enforcement?

The what-ifs here are frightening. But what isn’t a question is whether forcing travelers to give up their social media passwords is a violation of our civil liberties. It is – and that’s why we’re fighting back.