We already told you about the U.S. government’s proposal to add an “optional” field asking you to list your social media accounts every time you cross the border. And thousands of you have already told the U.S. government you think that’s a bad idea. Unfortunately, their proposal just got even worse.
We’ve seen the revised form (PDF download) Customs and Border Protection is proposing, and the “Social Media Identifier” field isn’t even marked as optional — making it mandatory for travelers entering the United States to divulge their social media accounts.
This kind of broad-strokes data collection violates fundamental privacy rights and hinders freedom of expression — and there’s no proof it would do anything to improve security. Instead, it sets a terrible example for countries around the world to start monitoring everyone’s social media at the border.
To make matters worse, Customs and Border Protection is also pushing a separate proposal dramatically expanding its ability to store and share the social media data it would collect. Under the new system, travelers’ social media records could be shared with law enforcement and other government agencies in bulk or on a case-by-case basis.
This kind of surveillance makes users at risk – communities of color, religious groups, the LGBTQI community, and others in marginalized groups who depend on the internet to connect with one another – even more vulnerable. It’s especially harmful to individuals living under repressive regimes where people who identify as part of an oppressed group and express themselves online could be subject to harsh penalties — including arrest or death.
Customs and Border Protection has so far failed to meaningfully engage with those of us who oppose this plan. Now, it has extended the comment window, hoping to bolster its case and drown out our voices. But we will not be ignored.
Thanks for all you do,