DHS Wants Tourists To List Their Facebook Accounts to Enter Country

If you’re a non-U.S. citizen entering the U.S. with a passport issued by one of our friends in Europe, you can enter “without a visa” by completing an “Electronic System for Travel Authorization” form online and paying a fee (which, if you think about it, is really no different from getting a visa… it’s just you print a piece of paper instead of get a mark in your passport).

The questions on the application are mostly the typical stuff you’d expect we might ask those entering our country, but DHS now proposes to add one more:

“Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.”

What’s wrong with that?  Well, I’ve explained in a letter opposing the proposed rule that there are many problems with this.  The first is that it’s not even clear what one would need to disclose, and sometimes disclosure may be a troubling basis for discrimination:

Do I need to think back to the MySpace account that I created in 2003 and have not used since 2006?  If I have a username for a chat room or message board, does that count?  What about Tinder?  Or perhaps I use the popular dating app for gay men known as Grindr.  Do you think it’s reasonable that I would then need to indirectly disclose my sexual preference as a condition of entering this country?  Or perhaps I use the Web site for connecting individuals with sexual fetishes known as FetLife.  Will you then review my FetLife account and determine if my preferred variety of kinky sex is acceptable?  If it is uncovered that I enjoy being dominated by women in latex bodysuits while ball gagged, will a CBP officer consider me the same level of security risk as one who prefers long walks on the beach and seeks a partner who loves Jesus?  Speaking of Jesus, many people use social networking related to their religion (Christian Mingle, JDate, etc.).  Now you’d like to know my religion, too?

Not particularly worried since you’re a U.S. citizen and therefore won’t have to personally deal with this problem?  Think again…

When the U.S. government implements a stupid rule affecting foreign visitors, other countries implement retaliatory rules on U.S. citizens seeking to enter their territory. …  Many other countries require visa fees only from U.S. citizens (or higher visa fees only for U.S. citizens), or fingerprinting only for U.S. citizens, in retaliation for what we do to their citizens.  I don’t want to have to share my Facebook details in order to travel, and if you implement this rule, it is all but certain that I shall have to do so as other countries decide to implement retaliatory rules.

It would be nice if DHS, for once, could do something that would actually improve our safety rather than play around with technology that they know nothing about.

[Edit – Online comments are now allowed from the public!  Let DHS know what you think!]

30 thoughts on “DHS Wants Tourists To List Their Facebook Accounts to Enter Country

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  1. No doubt DHS firmly believes ISIS members will disclose their favorite bomb making site, etc. On the other hand, people who blow themselves up for their religion are not the brightest light bulbs on the block, so they might be on to something here. On the other hand, is still gets me that those entering the US have to disclose their relationship with the Communist or even the NAZI parties.

  2. God you’re amazing. I’m reminded that I haven’t sent you money in a long time. Keep up the good work.

  3. ACLU: Roving Border Patrol Agents Are Detaining Innocent Motorists For Days

    The latest complaints filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Border Patrol accuse agents of detaining innocent residents for days in filthy and overcrowded facilities before releasing them without an explanation or apology.

    In two complaints lodged Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security oversight agencies, the ACLU outlines 11 cases in which people were wrongfully detained for days and never charged.

    Most of the incidents described in the ACLU’s complaints allegedly arose in the course of Border Patrol checkpoint and “roving patrol” stops. The individuals who were wrongfully detained and kept in inhumane conditions were not charged with any crime or immigration violation, yet their property was confiscated and some had to pay thousands of dollars to recover their vehicle, the ACLU says.

    In other cases, residents say they face constant surveillance and harassment on their own property, including frequent incursions by low-flying Border Patrol helicopters, the ACLU says.

    1. TSA Scores Another PR Win With Assault Of Nineteen Year Old Brain Tumor Patient On Her Way To Treatment:

      The TSA has decided to generate more positive PR by brutalizing a disabled nineteen-year-old girl with a brain tumor.

      The TSA, meanwhile, took immediate steps to mitigate the damage by stating that Hannah’s parents should have called ahead if it didn’t want their child terrorized and tackled.

      Sari Koshetz of TSA released a statement that said, “Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation.”

      No apology. No admission that this might have been handled better. No recognition that the agents’ failure to listen to Hannah Cohen’s mother might have resulted in a brain tumor patient covered in less blood and fear. Just a bit of victim blaming where the TSA implies that agents may not have reacted so badly to a metal detector beep if only they’d been informed ahead of time that the alarm would go off and Hannah Cohen would react badly to swiftly escalating screening efforts.

      The most ridiculous thing about the spokesperson’s comment is that we’re supposed to believe the TSA will listen to parents of disabled travelers if they call ahead — when it’s plainly apparent they won’t listen to them when they’re STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO THEM.


  4. TSA, American Airlines Jointly Testing computed tomography (CT) scanners:

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and American Airlines, through a joint initiative, will install new screening technology, including automated security screening lanes and computed tomography (CT) scanners, at select American Airlines hubs nationwide this fall.

    The automated screening lanes incorporate technology and screening station modifications that enhance security effectiveness while decreasing the time travelers spend in security screening by approximately 30 percent. TSA and American Airlines anticipate deployment of these lanes to Chicago (O’Hare), Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami.


  5. The TSA Must Go:

    Never has an agency of the United States government done so little, and so much, to deserve the disgust of the citizenry, as the Transportation Safety Administration. The latest incident on the radar, the beating and arrest of poor 18-year-old Hannah Cohen, is a travesty. She, like so many of us, went through their machines and a light went off.


  6. House Homeland Security Committee Releases New TSA Misconduct Report:

    Subcommittee Chairman Perry: “Growing misconduct across TSA’s ranks and TSA’s lack of accountability is alarming and unacceptable.

    Key Findings:

    •Despite a large bureaucracy designed, in part, to address employee misconduct, TSA data shows that misconduct grew by almost 29% from fiscal year 2013 to 2015.
    •While the number of misconduct allegations has increased over time, TSA has conducted fewer investigations into misconduct and taken fewer disciplinary actions against employees.


    1. TSA Misconduct Allegations—Up 29%—Include Prostitution, Smuggling, Sexual Assault on Travelers:

      “The misconduct described in the report goes as high as senior management. It includes instances of TSA air marshals allegedly bringing prostitutes to hotel rooms paid for with government dollars, and of employees “facilitating” drug and human smuggling, or even sexually assaulting travelers.”


  7. One Congressman Upset By TSA Misconduct

    “TSA’s big government, bureaucratic response has failed,” Rep. Scott Perry said. “It has failed TSA’s employees and it has failed the American public and the taxpayers.”

    Even when it did conduct an investigation, the TSA disciplined employees less harshly by 2015, the report found. The TSA decreased its use of lighter suspensions and letters of reprimand by 14 percent, while harsher, “adverse” actions — like demotion, removal or more lengthy suspensions — sank by 23 percent, according to the report.


  8. Reporter Hassled At LA Airport; Successfully Prevents DHS From Searching Her Phones

    Welcome to Bordertown, USA. Population: 200 million. Expect occasional temporary population increases from travelers arriving from other countries. Your rights as a US citizen are indeterminate within 100 miles of US borders. They may be respected. They may be ignored. But courts have decided that the “right” to do national security stuff — as useless as most its efforts are — trumps the rights of US citizens.

    Wall Street Journal reporter Maria Abi-Habib – a US-born citizen traveling into the States with her valid passport — discovered this at the Los Angeles International Airport. Her Facebook post describes her interaction with DHS agents who suddenly decided they needed to detain her and seize her electronics.

    The DHS agent went on to say she was there to help me navigate immigration because I am a journalist with The Wall Street Journal and have traveled to many dangerous places that are on the US’ radar for terrorism.


  9. Customs and Border Protection/DHS to pay $475,000 to settle “illegal body cavity search” case

    ACLU: Hospitals must know border agents lack authority to force bodily searches.

    Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will now have to pay “Jane Doe,” a New Mexico woman, $475,000 to settle a lawsuit filed in December 2013. In the suit, Jane Doe alleged that she was detained at the US-Mexico border and subjected to an illegal cavity search by nearby hospital personnel. Authorities believed she had drugs on her person, but they found nothing after six hours of intimate searches.

    “Doctors and law enforcement officers are entrusted with the sacred responsibility of looking after our health and safety, and Ms. Doe’s unspeakable ordeal represents an unforgivable violation of that trust,” Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a Thursday statement. “These atrocities were committed with our money and in our name, and it’s not enough to hold those who committed them to account. We must also ensure that every law enforcement officer and every hospital staff member understands the consequences


  10. Clear uses your fingerprints and iris images to help you speed through airport security lines:

    Clear is a company that’s using biometric scanning technology to help customers speed through security at the airport. Clear uses your fingerprints and iris images to confirm your identity, allowing you to go straight to the physical screening portion of TSA with the tap of a finger or blink of an eye.


  11. Proof of ‘lawful presence’ required for flights starting 2020!

    “I think it can be a burden for many legal residents including senior citizens, the disabled, and immigrants that do have legal status but may not have a birth certificate,” said state Senator Jamie Eldridge of Acton.

    He added, “It’s going to hurt a lot of people in Massachusetts.”


  12. Harvard: ‘Behavioral Profiling How Science Fiction Can Easily Become Reality’

    In response, in 2007, the Transportation Security Administration created new positions of “Behavioral Detection Officers” who were tasked to assess passengers waiting in line for security checks according to a set of indicators such as levels of stress.

    “This technology will remind us once again that scenarios from science fiction can easily become reality.”

    Read More:

  13. EPIC Opposes DHS Plan to Collect Social Media Identifiers:

    In comments to the Department of Homeland Security, EPIC urged the agency to drop a plan to review the social media accounts of people seeking to visit the U.S. EPIC argued that the proposal threatens important First Amendment rights, risked abuse, and would disproportionately impact against minority groups. Documents obtained by EPIC in 2011 in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealed that the DHS gathered social media comments to identify individuals, including US citizens, critical of the agency and the government.

    Click to access EPIC-Comments-DHS-Social-Media-IDs.pdf

  14. DHS Tells Congress How & Why It’s Monitoring Facebook, Twitter, Blogs:

    TN Note: The intelligence community keeps saying that they are not collecting random data on American Citizens and incidents like this keep popping up proving that they are brazen liars. Remember that DHS is not isolated from the rest of the intelligence community; rather, it reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence for everything it does, including line-item budget approval. Thus, the DHS vacuuming of social media an intentional policy from the very top.


  15. The DEA uses travel companies to spy on commuters’ and confiscate their cash:

    The new OIG report released last week provides much more detail about the scope of the DEA’s use of travel and transportation staff as paid “confidential sources” to target travelers and parcels for cash seizures on the basis of travel reservations and shipping records. The OIG found that the DEA is paying employees of Amtrak, airlines, bus companies, and other transportation companies millions of dollars for individual tips and copies of entire passenger manifests:

    [DEA] Special Agents have various ways of receiving these “tips,” but generally receive the information on a daily basis via email or text message, some of which are sent to government accounts and others to non-government private accounts that are established and controlled by the Special Agents. Additionally, we found that although some Special Agents estimated receiving up to 20 “tips,” or passenger itineraries, per day from their… commercial airline confidential sources, the DEA does not maintain a record of receipt of the totality of the confidential source “tips.”….

    Some Agents requested that sources provide them with suspicious travel itineraries that met criteria defined by the Agents, and in some cases requested entire passenger manifests almost daily….

    The OIG also found that Federal investigators and prosecutors typically avoided mentioning the use of paid Amtrak and travel industry informers in court filings. In most of the cases reviewed by the OIG, DEA agents and their collaborators in multi-agency “Drug Interdiction Task Forces” used the information they got from Amtrak and travel industry sources as the basis for encounters with travelers that were described as initially “consensual” and thus allegedly didn’t require any basis for suspicion. In an earlier report last year, the OIG criticized these “consensual” encounters, finding that they were conducted “in a manner which could be misleading” and could lead their targets to believe that they were required to answer questions and/or submit to searches.


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