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Tech firms and rights groups slam DHS proposals to inspect US visitors' social media accounts

By midian182
Aug 23, 2016
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  1. Tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter have joined more than two dozen rights groups in slamming the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over plans to inspect foreign visitors’ social media accounts as a way of determining if they pose a security threat.

    Back in December, the DHS confirmed it would be reviewing its policies on when officials can examine would-be immigrants’ social media posts as part of the vetting process when applying for certain visas. The plan arrived just weeks after the San Bernardino Inland Revenue shooting.

    One of the shooters, Tashfeen Malik, had allegedly “pledged allegiance” to ISIS on several social media sites, including Facebook, though this was later denied by FBI boss James Comey, who said support was expressed through "private direct messages."

    In June, the DHS proposed extending the plan to cover all non-US citizens coming into the country who don't have a visa. Visitors will be asked: "Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier," on the travel forms they must fill out to enter the US. While filling in the section isn’t mandatory, leaving it blank will doubtlessly raise suspicions.

    Politico reports that leading tech firms have said the proposals could "have a chilling effect on use of social media networks, online sharing and, ultimately, free speech online."

    In an open letter signed by 28 rights groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, the organizations wrote: "This program would invade individual privacy and imperil freedom of expression while being ineffective and prohibitively expensive to implement and maintain."

    Access Now, a public interest group that also signed the letter, has submitted more than 2300 comments to the Customs and Border Protection’s regulatory docket, the overwhelming majority of which oppose the plans. The government is taking comments on the proposal until August 22.

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,558   +2,362

    So. All the bad guys out there (I speak of jihadis and riff raff), who routinely post their agendas on social media, shouldn't be screened this way because "rights"?

    No foreigner has a right to enter this country. No foreigner has a right to work or live here.

    You want in, you should have to pass screening. Which should include any political affiliations, belief systems, or intrinsic qualities expressed on social media.
     
    psycros, Raoul Duke and RebelFlag like this.
  3. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 2,560   +862

    Facebook/Google : "we want us to have data on aspects of everyone's lives, not DHS!"
     
  4. thelatestmodel

    thelatestmodel TS Enthusiast Posts: 87   +22

    A little extreme perhaps? True, no-one has the "right" to enter the US. But provided they turn up with the appropriate paperwork (I.e. passport and any necessary visas), that should be enough. To me, social media screening is where it starts to get creepy. You should be able to meet visa requirements without having to divulge details of your private life.
     
    BSim500 likes this.
  5. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,558   +2,362

    Can I date your daughter, live in your home, watch your kids, or work for your company if I provide valid state-issued ID and pass a background check?

    No. Because you don't know who I am. You lack pertinent personal information about my values and character.

    If the country you seek to enter does not know who someone is, including personal details such as beliefs and the like, that country should point them directly to the door. "Thank you for your interest in living in [country name]. Unfortunately, we do not believe you are the right fit for our nation at this time."
     
    psycros likes this.
  6. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Guru Posts: 563   +178

    It's an easy enough concept... don't like it? Don't go.
     
  7. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Guru Posts: 198   +272

    ^ Because nothing makes less sense than further destroying your own +$1tn tourism industry (along with another +8m jobs it supports) whilst anyone of genuine mal-intent can continue to literally walk across those wide open borders and not post obvious give-aways of any planned attacks on social media...

    And how can anyone tell if you say you don't have an account from the 1.5 billion people who genuinely don't have one?
     
    Reehahs and mcborge like this.
  8. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,558   +2,362

    If asking for a person's Twitter handle were a risk to tourism, American TSA would have rendered the United States forgotten.

    Furthermore, failing to secure one threat is not an excuse to ignore another. Both need to be addressed.
     
    psycros likes this.
  9. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke TS Guru Posts: 930   +354

    I do some volunteer work. What they want is EXACTLY personal info. Criminal records check, vouched for by two people whom they will talk to. As mentioned they need this to assess your character and values. Today, that includes social media.
    For @BSim500 this is an area where there needs to be some kind of 'due diligence'. Something is better than nothing in this case. If something did happen and there were signs of it on social media, everybody would be crying that why wasn't it checked, how come we didn't know..
    my 2 cents, I guess that must be 5 cents now since Canada abolished the penny LOL
     
    psycros and davislane1 like this.
  10. EClyde

    EClyde TS Guru Posts: 707   +181

    Inspect them with a microscope
     
  11. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Guru Posts: 410   +88

    The article specifically said people entering WITHOUT a Visa. I suppose the more fair thing to do would be to require a Visa from everyone not a U.S. citizen, but that would likely effect more tourism dollars than this will.
     
  12. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 340   +133

    "Can I date your daughter with just a background check and state-ID?"
    Sure, I would have raised her to be a fully functional human, capable of picking (and rejecting) her own partners. A background check seems a little extreme.

    "Can I live in your home with just a background check and state-ID?"
    Sure. That would be great. Rent is $850/mo + utilities for my city. Background check is a nice bonus, but hardly ever performed in most markets. Maybe a credit check, if you're signing a lease.

    "Can I watch your kids with just a background check and state-ID?"
    That would be a pre-requisite - unless we just want to hire the neighborhood teen; she seems to handle the Johnson's kids just fine.

    "Can I work for your company with just a background check and state-ID?"
    Pretty sure that is a standard prerequisite made by most companies these days, for both tax and legal purposes.

    You didn't think your argument through very well.
     
  13. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,558   +2,362

    That comment did exactly what it was supposed to do. Expose the faulty reasoning in your original post:

    This question presupposes she's under your authority. No responsible parent lets their teenage girl date without vetting.

    Post your Airbnb or other applicable info. I'm interested.

    So all I need is valid ID and a bg check? DM me your contact info. I'm free Saturday.

    So you mean to tell me, this is all I need? No interview, no character and values assessment? I just walk in and can get hired? Which company is doing this, I know some people looking for work.

    My point, which you missed, is that the position being put forward is that social media shouldn't be scrutinized because "private" values and beliefs shouldn't impact a person's ability to enter someone else's country, even though those values and beliefs inform every decision said individual makes and there are active threats against those nations and their people.

    You take the best possible scenario using lowest barrier to entry, and say "this is how it should be." Even though you don't even believe it yourself. Case in point, your every "sure" above:

    1. Avoids the question.
    2. Is a lie.
    3. Avoids the question while demonstrating (2).
    4. Avoids the question.
     
    psycros and Raoul Duke like this.
  14. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,043   +273

    Then what do we do about the citizens of this country who have pledged themselves to some form of extremism? Oh, wait, isn't there something called the constitution????
     
  15. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,558   +2,362

    The Constitution applies to U.S. citizens, not foreigners. Furthermore, the discussion is about denying entry not jailing.
     
    Raoul Duke likes this.
  16. NoLimits

    NoLimits TS Rookie

    If you want to enter our country and you come from a flagged origin, such as Syria, you should be subjected to this. This is one aspect of the infamous 'background" check.
     
    psycros and Raoul Duke like this.
  17. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,556   +2,900

    I'd like to think that all of Homeland Security was the Security Division.
     
  18. drjekelmrhyde

    drjekelmrhyde TS Booster Posts: 200   +44

    Flagged could mean ANY country now. The last few nut jobs were home grown. It's not like they just can't make a dummy account. The bad guys are already here in place all they need is to get flipped on(this doesn't only apply to Muslim radicals). All I can say is that people keep their eyes open(aka on your Q's and P's)
     
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,702   +1,886

    No, you know what's actually creepy, is when Gmail has the ballz to ask you to take a survey as to why you just dismissed the unsolicited ads THEY placed, into your promotional email. Google needs to STFU, about what business, or any other organization harvests in the way of information. I'd be willing to bet, if I bought a tube of "Preparation H" online today, I'd have ads being delivered to me from Google and Amazon, about alternative hemorrhoid medications, round about tomorrow. And that kiddies, is how far the mutts at Google, have their noses stuck up your collective a**es. So far in fact, you should be suffering from "painful rectal itch", if you aren't already.

    The only reason they're running their corporate mouths, is to deflect attention away from their own intelligence gathering. "
    You can bet on it. Well, they're probably a little delusional as well.
     
  20. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,043   +273

    Right! So now that this is publicly announced policy, all any terrorist that wants to get into the US has to do is keep their intent secret, obtain US Citizenship, then they can reveal themselves. Brilliant!
     
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,702   +1,886

    This would be somewhat disturbing, save for the fact the average jihadi can't keep their mouth shut on Facebook about America the terrible, and how many many virgins they've deluded themselves into believing they'll be banging in heaven.
     
  22. URUKHAI

    URUKHAI TS Rookie

    Neither the commercial interests nor the government need access to this information to perform their duties. However they both do so now. Google, Facebook, Twitte, et al do it so their users can experience the joys of being monitored for marketing opportunities and spammy ads. The government agencies, because they can and so they can collect profile data to whatever end they see fit. What are you gonna do about it? It has been happenning for years and if they ever need justification for it they can just invoke the Patriot Act.
    And, to be totally honest, if these users did not feel the need to post every waking moment of their lives online, there would be no data to collect.
     
  23. IAMTHESTIG

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 957   +273

    Doesn't matter anyway people can easily have multiple accounts, and lie about their existence. Everyone keeps trying to think of technical and legal ways to stop terrorism. The simple fact there isn't a way to stop it using those things. Slow it down perhaps? Maybe... but it really comes down to people reporting suspicious behavior, authorities taking appropriate action, and people defending their lives, as afforded by US law (of which itself is violating). You can't stop every single terrorist but if every person who had heard or discussed things that could indicate terrorism, and every law enforcement authority took appropriate action there would be a lot fewer terrorist incidents in the US.
     
  24. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,043   +273

    Agreed, but there are some of this ilk that are intelligent and learn; they will likely inform "recruits" to keep their mouths shut. It is not all that beyond possibility.

    And reporting could get so bad that people joking about such an act are regularly reported and perhaps even jailed though they might have no intention of carrying out any act.

    This thread is already ripe with suggestions that beef up the nanny nation. IMO, we do not need any more beef in our nannys. In other words, sheer paranoia never got anyone anyplace they were not afraid of.
     
  25. IAMTHESTIG

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 957   +273

    A country has every right to scrutinize those trying to come into their country. In fact it is quite surprising that there is more scrutiny on US citizens who were born in the country than there is on those entering the country, particularly from countries known to have terror suspects living and operating there. It was already stated above that these people have no rights, they are coming to the US to (in theory) be able to exercise rights they don't have in other places of the world. This proposal as I see it, is more about nannying those coming into the country, not of those already here. So I see no problem with this DHS proposal, although again as I said earlier I don't think it would be all that beneficial.

    And there is a big difference between paranoia and quality evidence based reporting. Just remember there are laws against falsifying or fabricating evidence so I really don't think it would be as big of a problem as you think. A majority of recent terrorist attacks in the US had plenty of precursors people ignored. There is a huge problem with that I'm sure you can agree.
     

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