Trump administration wants to force visitors to US to reveal social media passwords and answer questions about political beliefs


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/05/race-to-the-bottom.html


#2

No problem there. My political belief is that I don’t intend to even try to visit the US so long as the Republicans are in power.


#3

So the long game is to get those Twitterbots etc. to establish a known history and existing profile with a consistent pattern, and then change the names so that they can be sold to folk who need a “clean” identity. (I realise that “change the names” probably isn’t a trivial task, but it’s definitely more trivial than the alternative.)


#4

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any social media accounts… Also, feel free to check my brand new, still unused phone”

It’s called Security Theater, not Security.


#5

Now I’m really going to tell my overseas friends not to visit. Maybe I’ll visit them. Get a one way plane ticket and ask for asylum.


#6

I smell a business plan!!


#7

#StartupIdeas was auto-locked after 30 days without an entry :frowning2:


#8

This is gonna get so expensive…


#9

There are two possibilities. One is that the people proposing this measure are entirely naive and stupid, and can’t imagine that the people that they most want to catch – terrorists, drug dealers and other members of the ‘Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse’ – won’t be able to take simple measures to protect themselves (creation of plausible fake social media identities, use of disposable devices etc.) The other is that they’re well aware that the measure is ineffective for its stated purpose, but they want to do it anyway. I assume the second, so we have to ask “What are they really after?”

As ‘security theater’, it’s not terribly convincing. The knowledge that foreigners are being forced to give up their Facebook passwords isn’t really going to persuade anyone that the government is doing everything it can to prevent swarthy rogues from massacring shoppers in the Phenix City Piggly-Wiggly. That leaves three possibilities that I can think of (not necessarily mutually exclusive).

The first is self-censorship. People who rightly suspect that they will be singled out for scrutiny (i.e. people with brown skins) will decide to stay home and avoid the US. And that suits those implementing the measure just fine.

The second is convenient grounds for refusal. Any border person who doesn’t like the look of a traveler, but can’t say exactly why (or prefers not to say exactly why, because “you look like a Moo-slim to me” sounds bad) can just say “We don’t think this is your real social media account,” or “We found something that concerns us in your friends’ list,” or “This isn’t the smartphone you usually use; you’re trying to hide something,” and, voila, entry denied.

The other is that collecting massive amounts of information about people who don’t fit the profile is actually the goal. Because people who actually have something to hide will hide it without too much difficulty, what the inspectors will end up with is a huge database of information collected from people who don’t think they have any secrets. The goal isn’t to find individual villains, it’s to build a gigantic dataset out of the lives of ordinary people. Essentially, they want to build a data picture of the world outside the US.

There are various reasons why they might want to do this. One is that it’s a way to do surveillance of countries where, for whatever reason, they’re not currently able to tap phones and read emails. Another is that it’s a way to catch bad guys indirectly: Bad Guy may be too smart to come to the US with his own phone, but if we’ve already read all the Facebook posts from the people two steps away in his social network, we know quite a lot of what we need to know about him. Another is that it’s intended to spot bad guys by looking at the gaps: if we’ve got a detailed map of social networks for Country A, but Suspected Bad Guy doesn’t show up anywhere in them, then that in itself is informative. If he doesn’t talk to anyone we know, maybe he’s hiding something.

Ultimately, I suspect that this is just opportunism. Because we can ask people to reveal more and more of their lives when they enter the country, we will, and then because we can vacuum up every last detail of their social lives, we will. We’ll collect everything, store everything, and we’ll figure out how to use it later.


#10

And Vegas screams “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”. Oh and Orlando and New York too. Good news for Americans … hotels should get a lot cheaper in these places.


#11

That;'s because it has been - all along - a more sophisticated business plan for buying new stuff than the previous ones (e.g. vinyl to cassette, vhs to dvd to bluray to …)


#12

oh doesn’t the PARANOIA just I N T E N S I F I E S


#13

#14

I have a feeling there is going to be a very profitable black market for business secrets learned this way by border agents…


#15

Last fall, my family was planning a trip to Disney World. I told them that I didn’t think we should book anything until we saw how the election turned out. To be honest, I think some of them thought that I was being a little paranoid, but I’m sure glad that I have no tickets to cancel now.


#16

Right, it’s pretty laughable to think that a terrorist would willingly cough up the username and password for the Twitter account they were using to secretly spread extremist propaganda.


#17

Give me your bland, your cowed, your paranoid masses yearning to be controlled


#18

Crap…


#19

Thank God… I thought I was practicing my goose-stepping all these years for nothing

I’ll make a deal he can see my social media passwords when I can watch his browser history for a while…


#20

Fear not, Boing Boingers! They will have to drag my BBS password from my cold, dead hands!