AAN was one of 45 organizations and institutions who jointly signed a letter sent to the Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, in opposition to any proposal that DHS collect social media passwords from those seeking to enter the country. Many of these organizations, including AAN, were part of a similar statement issued on February 21 in response to Secretary Kelly’s statement before a Congressional subcommittee on February 7 that “that the Department of Homeland Security would consider requiring visa applicants to provide log-in information (passwords or other credentials) for their social media accounts.”
This letter cites 5 reasons in formally urging Secretary Kelly to “reject any proposal to require anyone to provide log-in information to their online accounts as a condition of entry into the United States”:
1. The invasive review of online activity actually makes us less safe, as US citizens might face retaliatory actions in other countries, many of which have less protection from prosecution under foreign laws. Further, many people use their social media accounts to log into other services, including financial services. This would put Americans at risk of hacking, cybertheft and other crimes.
2. There is no way for the US government to efficiently review all this online information. Thus, the intrusion comes with little benefit.
3. There will be a large intrusion on confidential professional relationships including, specifically, the relationships between journalists and their sources.
4. Beyond journalists, these intrusions violate fundamental fight amendment rights of expression, religion and association by revealing personal relationships.
5. The inquiry will have a disproportionate impact on Muslims. I realize this is outside of our usual issues but I don’t know that inclusion of this argument should discourage us from signing.