Published: February 2017

Requiring mobile passwords is a direct assault on fundamental rights

The new Department of Homeland Security proposal that requires non-citizens disclose their social media passwords and frequently visited websites would enable border officials to invade people’s privacy by examining years of private emails, texts, and messages. It would expose travelers and everyone in their social networks, including potentially millions of U.S. citizens, to excessive, unjustified scrutiny. Consumer and privacy advocates joined together in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security to condemn this invasive proposal. Not only does this requirement fail to increase the security of U.S. citizens, it’s a direct assault on their fundamental rights and sets a horrible global precedent.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly wants foreign visitors to divulge the websites they visit and their social media passwords to border patrol before they’re allowed to enter the United States. If they don’t agree, they could be denied entry. Secretary Kelly’s dangerous idea does not only risk impeding the rights of U.S. citizens, it would also set a dangerous global precedent—leading the procedure to be mirrored by foreign governments, which will demand passwords from U.S. citizens when they seek entry to foreign countries.

Lead Organization

Center for Democracy & Technology

Other Organizations

11/9 Coalition | Access Now | Advocacy for Principled Action in Government | American Civil Liberties Union | American Library Association | American Society of Journalists & Authors | American Society of News Editors | Americans for Immigrant Justice | Association of Alternative Newsmedia | Association of Research Libraries | Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending | Dissent Foundation | Bolo Bhi | Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law | Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles | Center for Democracy & Technology | Comic Book Legal Defense Fund | Committee to Protect Journalists | Computer & Communications Industry Association | The Constitution Project | Consumer Action | Council on American-Islamic Relations | Electronic Frontier Foundation | Engine | Free Speech Coalition | Future of Privacy Forum | Global Network Initiative | Human Rights Watch | Immigrant Legal Resource Center | Index on Censorship | Internet Association | Internet Society | Internews | Legal Aid Justice Center | Media Freedom Foundation | National Coalition Against Censorship | National Consumers League | National Hispanic Media Coalition | New America's Open Technology Institute | Online Trust Alliance | Paradigm Initiative | Pen America | Project Censored | Public Citizen | Reporters Without Borders | Resilient Communities Program, New America | Restore the Fourth | United Church of Christ, OC Inc. | Woodhull Freedom Foundation | World Privacy Forum

More Information

To read the full letter, click here.

For more information, please visit Center for Democracy & Technology's website.

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