Before DHS secretary confirmation hearing, 50,000 people urge U.S. to reject “password for entry” border policies

Washington D.C. — Today, the “Fly Don’t Spy” coalition delivered approximately 50,000 signatures of people in the United States and around the world who urge the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect human rights and reject any proposal to collect social media account passwords upon entry into the United States. The signatures were collected at and partner’s websites.

The delivery comes in advance of the Senate confirmation hearing for Ms. Kirstjen M. Nielsen who has been nominated to be the next Secretary of DHS. On behalf of the coalition, Access Now has asked the committee to raise the issue with the nominee during her confirmation hearing.

On February 7, 2017, former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) John Kelly testified before the House Homeland Security Committee regarding immigration policies and domestic security. In response to questioning about President Trump’s travel ban and so-called extreme vetting, General Kelly suggested that some travelers could be required to provide their passwords to their digital accounts. Such a requirement would violate human rights, create digital security risks, and undermine U.S. industry. It would also chill the speech and behavior of people around the world.

In response to General Kelly’s assertions, 33 organizations, including companies and nonprofit groups, created to collect signatures opposing “any proposal to require visa applicants, refugees, or other foreign visitors to provide passwords for online accounts, including social media, in order to enter the United States.”

We explained, “Log-in access to social media accounts provides intimate information on a person as well as their connections. If you use a social media account to log in to other websites, it may also create a detailed dossier that broadly maps your entire digital life. The requirement will disproportionately impact low-risk travelers since terrorists and criminals will simply evade these requirements by using different accounts and devices. U.S. citizens will also feel the impact, as other countries will almost certainly follow suit.”