Washington D.C. (April 18, 2017) — Today, 29 organizations launched a campaign to oppose any type of “extreme vetting” that requires travelers to reveal their passwords to online accounts. The coalition created FlyDontSpy.com and will ask supporters to sign a petition to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly opposing any “password for entry” schemes.
“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.’ 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. We invite people to join us at FlyDontSpy.com,” said Nathan White, Senior Legislative Director at Access Now. (Pronouns for attributing this quote are: he, him, his.)
On February 7, 2017, Secretary Kelly told members of the House Homeland Security Committee that the agency is considering a wide range of methods of “extreme vetting,” including requiring that visa applicants provide passwords to their social media accounts. In response to questioning by Senator Claire McCaskill in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 5th, the Secretary stated that only a limited number of travelers would be impacted. However, DHS is currently expanding a program to ask travelers to hand over their social media accounts voluntarily.
“Asking people to hand over the passwords to their accounts will make all of us less safe, not more safe. Not only does it undermine our basic right to privacy and have a chilling effect on free speech, 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,” said Evan Greer, Campaign Director at Fight for the Future. (Pronouns for attributing this quote are: she, her, hers.)
“The federal government is already invading the privacy of international travelers in multiple ways and requiring travelers to disclose their social media password will make matters much worse. Rather than ratcheting up attacks on privacy, the U.S. government should be reining them in,” said Adam Schwartz, EFF Senior Staff Attorney. “The federal government is already invading the privacy of international travelers in multiple ways and requiring travelers to disclose their social media password will make matters much worse. Rather than ratcheting up attacks on privacy, the U.S. government should be reining them in,” said Adam Schwartz, EFF Senior Staff Attorney. (Pronouns for attributing this quote are: he, him, his.)
The FlyDontSpy.com coalition, led by Access Now, includes Advocacy for Principled Action in Government, American Civil Liberties Union, Asian Americans Advancing Justice LA, Association for Progressive Communications, Brennan Center for Justice, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Media Justice, Committee to Protect Journalists, The Constitution Project, Daily Kos, Defending Rights and Dissent, Demand Progress, Duck Duck Go, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Freedom of the Press Foundation, The Identity Project, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Media Justice League, National Immigration Law Center, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Open Media, Pen America, Restore the Fourth, T’ruah, and Wickr Foundation.
Read more about why collecting passwords is extremely dangerous for human rights and cybersecurity.