back to article 'Hey, Homeland Security. Don't you dare demand Twitter, Facebook passwords at the border'

Over 50 human rights and civil liberties groups, nearly 100 law professors and security experts, and lawmakers have launched a campaign against digital searches at the US border. An open letter condemns recent comments by Homeland Security secretary John Kelly in which he proposed requiring selected non-citizens entering the …

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Re: 2nd Amendment gives you immunity?

Presumably one where he's labelled a cop killer and hunted down for shooting an "innocent" cop during a routine stop and search. Because being considered and armed and dangerous cop killer never raised the probability of death...

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Holmes

Re: 2nd Amendment gives you immunity?

That's either Compton, Baltimore or anywhere in Florida

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Anonymous Coward

> "I believe the police in England can ask your name and address - but not sure you are obliged to give them an answer"

You're obliged to give your name and address once arrested, or if being reported for a reportable offence (there may also be something to do with issues whilst in charge of a motor vehicle). Otherwise, you're not. And refusal to provide details can't be regarded as suspicious behaviour allowing a search (under PACE guidance).

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Big Brother

@Youngone, in some US states, refusal to present ID upon demand is a misdemeanor.

Pretty sure those aren't the states where Voter Suppression ID laws are in force....

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Trollface

Immunity to prosecution does not extend to immunity to bullets.

From what I hear, if you're "black" and live in certain parts of the US, they will give you plenty of opportunity to develop one!

----> Does this count as a "cynical bastard" icon?

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Pirate

From the department of stating the bleedin' obvious

Facebook is an American company.

America has the Patriot Act, which effectively says that plod over there can shout "Terrorists!" then march in and seize data from any American company they so choose, with hardly a murmur.

So, if a person's Facebook record is of such amazing interest, the simple option for our idiot cousins over the water would be to ask the incoming suspect their name, then go over to Facebook, back their database up to that of the NSA and then simply grep through for info on that particular Facebook user.

Simple indeed, and not done because this trawl has been dreamed up by lackwitted goons in the ports, not in the American executive or legal hierarchy.

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Do you think they'd believe me

If I told the truth: I don't have any social-media accounts. Fortunately, I'm a U.S. citizen, and thus exempt from all this spying.

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Re: Do you think they'd believe me

No, you are not exempt from all this spying.

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Re: Do you think they'd believe me

Fortunately, I'm a U.S. citizen, and thus exempt from all this spying.

I believe they outsource this to GCHQ...

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Re: Do you think they'd believe me

"If I told the truth: I don't have any social-media accounts."

What do you think this is that we are posting on? The Register doesn't, I imagine, have a special exception.

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Re: Do you think they'd believe me

Do they specifically mention commenting on news sites and are you expected to give over your El Reg, Grauniad, CNN, and NYT usernames and passwords?

Will you be denied entry to the country if you're pro-FAKE NEWS?

The slippery slope has turned into a precipice.

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Re: Do you think they'd believe me

I would have thought you'd be welcomed into the country if you're pro-Fake News...

just as long as it's the right type of fake news.

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Re: Do you think they'd believe me

I recently filled in an ESTA application. There is a list of what they consider "social media" and "The Register Forums" isn't one of them unsurprisingly.

I barely use FB and TW, nothing interesting in mine. Unless a practically empty account is.

I need to talk to my kids about it though.

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What if...

You don't have any social media accounts *cough* me *cough*? Or would that, in itself, be a reason to refuse entry because you're obviously a terrorist hiding stuff? Or what if I don't know the password until I enter the States, someone else could have set it up for me and posted the password to where I was going to be staying? It's the stuff of bad movie plots!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What if...

What actually counts as 'social media'?

I have Facebook (actually multiple accounts, but I've forgotten most of them now), but there are probably more people who can read my posts on El Reg than there are who can read them on Facebook - do the El Reg comment boards count as social media?

I have a linkedin account which I set up last time I was looking for a job (and hardly even look at these days), but that place now seems to have turned into something more facebooky.

I have various accounts with hobby related discussion chat groups - do they count as social media too?

Should I just give them a soup of passwords and make them waste their time reading about model trains, photography, and stuff?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What if...

"Should I just give them a soup of passwords and make them waste their time reading about model trains, photography, and stuff?"

Those who are sensitised to prejudice will find something in the most innocent of things. The more innocent things appear - then the more convinced they become that you are being very clever.

"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

Origin unknown although often attributed to Cardinal Richelieu - the power behind the 17th century French throne.

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Anonymous Coward

Promoting Fear

Asking for handles and passwords is only done as propaganda for the fear regime.

They don't need your facebook account to see if you're against the government or not. They can figure that out by your credit card purchases, by the movies you watched, the pubs you went to, your mac address during the last protest, or god forbid by that anonymous mask you bought on amazon.

Heck, with virtually no posts of my own, facebook concluded my political affinity just by the handful of people I friended. The pre-cogs can figure out when you're going to snap, before you even think about it.

The act of asking is mainly to assert their authority and to promote more fear.

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Re: Promoting Fear

And to make sure that you think twice before doing anything that may cause you problems later.

Like visiting the ACLU or Democrat websites or forgetting to follow the glorious leader on twitter.

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Devil

OK guys, you've had your fun

I think it's time for 'Bozo the Wonder Chimp' to finish up his 'be POTUS for a month prize' period.

You can wheel out the REAL guys now.....

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Re: OK guys, you've had your fun

Didn't Big John pour from his heart a paean of praise for The Golden Donald (I quote) just a few months ago? I am keen to see how Trump is going to work his wonders, seeing that he has backtracked or dropped support of Taiwan, ending of many trade agreements, dropping NATO, getting Mexico to build a wall, need I go on. He is forging ahead with throwing Ukraine under the bus to smooth the road to Moscow, making sure whole groups are stamped with 'evil alien', and trying to speak against anti-semitism while having one of the biggest anti-semites in the USA draft his Executive Orders (which he confuses with orders from a CEO, apparently). I happen to want a few things Trump said he'd do, because two very different planets can be in the same night sky, but he has reneged on all of them.

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Anonymous Coward

As a man....

...would it help if arrived head to toe dressed in Melania's ladies fashion gear?

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It's working already

From the looks of these posts it seems the mere mention of such policy is already keeping out many undesirables. It's amazing our these same legislators supported eavesdropping electronically on Gen. Flynn. The United States police already have the authority to impound cell phones in the event of an accident or crime. DHS probably can attain the info over megadata programs once visas are obtained by cross referencing so it seems like a waste of resources to obtain it individually. But if terrorists were committing terrorist attacks there would be no need for any of these policies. Too bad our traitorous legislators don't know who the enemy is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re. Its working already

Doesn't FB already have a "No giving out passwords" aka "No password sharing" policy?

Simple fix, warrant canary. Have the software look (as is routinely done on Twitter) for geographically implausible logins, and if seen it assumes the password has been compromised and requests additional ID.

Caveat: forging an IP address is trivial but forging an IMEI/IMSI/etc takes a lot of effort.

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Point missing

Kieren has missed a very important point in the article.

This is only the application of what was prepared by those agencies under the Obama regime and would have been much worse if Hillary had the controls in her hands.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Point missing

Thanks for that! Cheered me right up!!

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Re: Point missing

Worse in what way? Please educate me!

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As I read this article I remembered the article published in The Register *just last week* which reviewed the should's and should not's with respect to data security when travelling to the US. It was clear in the article that demanding passwords is not a new thing. That TSA staff have been able to require access to phones for years and, if password to social and other accounts are on the phone then their contents are fair game. And if you do not offer up your phone then staff are within their rights to confiscate the device and send it away for forensic investigation.

Since this is not a new thing or even a new practice why is a fuss being kicked up now. I have no love for President Trump but I have even less love self-serving hypocrisy. This hypocrisy feeds Trump's narrative of fake news when this 'news' should have been brought to light while Barry was in charge.

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Because, ya moron, you can't read. NOT FOR US CITIZENS RETURNING TO THE US.

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Let's welcome Trump

On his Status VIsit to meet Brenda; once Hair Force One has landed as he goes through the VIP lounge at Heathrow, let's ask for his phone and Twitter account password .. Oh what fun

All Hail El Douché

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Unhappy

In the UK a British teach was stopped from boarding a plane to the US from Iceland.

AFAIK even when you group book you have to provide passport details for background checks (despite the */11 planes being internal flights) so he should have been advised beforehand he would be be refused entry to the US.

It was a stopover for a party of schoolchildren from his school.

Would you be surprised his name was Mohamed and he was of the darker complexion?

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Peb

But what

Happens when you don't know your Facebook password? I never type it in, the only way to know it would be to reset it - and then reset it again post security checks

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I still haven't seen any explanation of what happens for those who don't have any social media accounts.

Also, if this becomes a real problem, we can just create dummy accounts with little/nothing on them and hand over the passwords to those instead.

Better yet, social media websites should fight back and allow us to define a second dummy password on our real account. When using the second password, it only shows content that we can predefine in advance, and any posted or shared content from the "dummy" account won't be shown to any of our friends.

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Problems...

This must just be security theatre.

The problems, as I see them are that any reasonably paranoid person (criminal or not) would:

1) Not use his/her social media for anything that would arouse suspicion.

2) Alternatively, have multiple accounts, some of with which he/she could hand over to placate the authorities.

3) Not bring cell phones/laptops into the country that weren't sterilised, as it were.

I mean it's basic field craft and this has been pointed out numerous times to the authorities, which leads us to the conclusion that this isn't about finding criminals at all, but seeing to be doing "something" no matter how ineffective.

As an aside, I listened to a report on Radio 4 last week, which asserted that starting in the weeks the "Muslim ban" has been in place, the number of people of all ethnicities that have flown into the US has declined by 8%. (Compared to the year before and factoring in economic variables). The tourist industry must be loving Trump.

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When a lunatic gets elected . . .

. . . it was said by some, in advance of the November election, that even if a complete mad man was voted into The White House, enough checks and balances existed in the form of expert advisers, experienced politicos in both parties, and the sacrosanct Constitution itself to ensure that the lunatic did not turn the country into a complete mental asylum.

'S funny. The way things work out.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: When a lunatic gets elected . . .

"[...] enough checks and balances existed in the form of expert advisers, experienced politicos in both parties, and the sacrosanct Constitution itself to ensure that the lunatic did not turn the country into a complete mental asylum."

The same was said in 1933. Rule by decree became normal. The judiciary was purged of any "traitors against the will of the people". State departments were headed by cronies and left to do whatever they thought the leader wanted.

The leader absented himself from day to day detail and generally retreated to his country estate where he amused himself watching entertaining films. Occasionally he attended a rally of the faithful - where he railed against the lies in the newspapers - and told them he would make the country great again.

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Toursist drop

I have had hassle visiting US (on business) in the past (well before latest escalation), with unfriendly & aggressive staff (which got even worse when they took my fingerprints, too much of them worn down (temporary as I had been doing plenty of heavy duty landscaping work, sans gloves, so lots of finger skin was (temporarily) worn down ))

Although there's plenty of great geography, wildlife etc to see in the USA, bad experiences on (unavoidable) business visit had already put me off the idea of ever visiting as a tourist (the pre perestroika / glasnost USSR was way less PITA than USA) but I'm sure this latest security theatre might put even more people off. I'll spend my tourist cash in countries that make (even if its pretence) an effort to be welcoming

Shame as most of the US folk I met were friendly and pleasant, but the hell of border control (in enough of a bad mood after a long haul flight) manages to override that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Toursist drop

I suspect I will no longer be able to pass the border without a couple of hours of interrogation since I will pass with equipment that will have no usable data on them but an email account that we forward all spam and malware to - they're welcome to that, any time :).

I've given up years ago to consider the US a viable place to visit anyway. As a foreigner, I will be walking unarmed in a country where every halfwit can carry a gun, become law enforcement or be president and they can take all your possessions and money off you by simply falsely accusing you of crime.

Not really what I'd call a beacon of Freedom and Liberty..

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Anonymous Coward

They can have my passwords - all of them ..

.. because at that point THEY are liable for what happens with those accounts, not me.

If I were a smart terrorist (a subset which the DHS appears to consider very small judging by their approach to catching bad guys) I'd identify accounts of people about to cross the path of the DHS and insert dodgy broadcasts to coincide with the moment the DHS gets their hands on the passwords.

As most people working with Big Data don't know the difference between causation and correlation if it bit them in the leg divider it wouldn't take long for the DHS to start a hunt for an internal mole that doesn't exist.

I can't believe that in the vast volume of people they have there isn't one at a management position that is capable of thinking these things through. It's a good thing the average terrorist seems to match the DHS in (lack of) intelligence and sense of humour.

Given that we are all working to identify extremists, I'd say that security staff at a non-US airport isn't doing its job if it allows someone like Trump in without a ham fisted cavity search. But that's just my personal opinion.

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Anonymous Coward

Chain of custody

The problem I see with giving them my passwords is that it lets them plant false evidence.

AC because I'll be going there soon.

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British Muslims, are being turned away from America seemingly for no real reason.

I beg to argue with that statement - there *is* a very real reason. Unfortunately, that reason is that the people of the Land Of The Free voted a right-wing nutjob to be their President.

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Anonymous Coward

isn't it against their T&C

to share passwords? this does not put people in a good place either...

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Anonymous Coward

With the Patriot act

Why aren't they doing all the checks before they issue a visa?

I would think the answer would be set the account up with 2 factor authentication and a long password that would be tricky to remember, then deactivate it and don't bring the relevant phone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: With the Patriot act

"Why aren't they doing all the checks before they issue a visa?"

And who says they aren't?

Also, lying to an official is an offence, so if they they already have the results of a search to compare with what you report on arrival, omitting an account - even one you no longer remember, or have the password for, is all the excuse they need to detain you, or ship you back.

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Dammit, if you want into my social media accounts. . . .

. . . .at least use the gorram backdoors that No-Such-Agency has installed. . .

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Mind you, I'm a US Cit. . .

. . . and even 20 years ago, noticed it was far more of a hassle to enter the US than any other nation: mind you, my experience is with Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. LONG before the TSA.

I can't even imagine what it's like now. . .

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Unhappy

Just Fscking horrible

I'm scheduled to visit this summer, I'm an ex-pat with a french spouse. I am worried is an understatement. I will have to be tranq'ed to the max before dealing with those idiots. Don't get me started about my spouse...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just Fscking horrible

"I'm scheduled to visit this summer, I'm an ex-pat with a french spouse."

Visiting the USA - or the UK?

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