WPF asks Office of Management and Budget to re-evaluate plan to request social media account information on entry/exit forms; requests pilot study


The World Privacy Forum filed comments today with the US Office of Management and Budget regarding a US Customs and Border Protection agency proposal to request social media account information from arriving and departing travelers on entry/exit forms. Earlier this year, WPF wrote comments to CBP directly and urged the agency to drop its proposal to request social media profile information from travelers on these key entry/exit forms. The entry forms in question are very familiar to most people who have flown out of and into the US. Here is a sample form.

WPF filed this fresh round of comments with OMB to protest CBP’s material lack of responsiveness to public feedback, and its non-compliance with the full requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act. WPF also urged OMB to allow for a limited pilot study prior to any launch of the program, with a public reporting and feedback mechanism included at the conclusion of the pilot study. WPF continues to have significant concerns about the precedent of collecting social media identifiers from travelers in the first place, among other concerns discussed in the new comments.

“We think that the request for social media identifiers of travelers is a terrible precedent. It is likely to result in other nations making similar requests of Americans who seek to travel abroad. We foresee escalation, with voluntary requests replaced by mandatory requests, and with requests for identifiers eventually replaced by requests for passwords. People traveling to countries with challenging political situations could face very difficult choices if this question becomes the global norm,” noted Executive Director Pam Dixon.

The CBP proposal generated many comments earlier this year. You can read WPF’s comments to US Customs and Border Protection here.