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Civil Liberties Coalition Submits Comments on DHS Plan to Collect Travelers’ Social Media Information

The Brennan Center and a coalition of civil liberties organizations submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security on their plan to collect social media information from travelers seeking entry to the United States.

Published: October 3, 2016

In light of the revised System of Records Notice (SORN) for Elec­tronic System for Travel Author­iz­a­tion (ESTA), posted on Septem­ber 2, 2016, the Bren­nan Center and a coali­tion of civil liber­ties organ­iz­a­tions submit­ted comments to the Depart­ment of Home­land Secur­ity, U.S. Customs and Border Protec­tion Bureau (DHS/CBP). The comments concerned the DHS/CBP plan to permit the collec­tion of inform­a­tion from, and expand routine uses for, social media inform­a­tion from trav­el­ers seek­ing entry to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and other persons, includ­ing U.S. citizens and lawful perman­ent resid­ents, whose names are provided to the DHS/CBP as a part of a trav­el­er’s Form I-94W or ESTA. As described in the comments, we believe that this policy is fatally vague, lacks trans­par­ency, and will result in the over­broad collec­tion, reten­tion, and shar­ing of signi­fic­ant amounts Amer­ic­ans’ data for purposes far beyond the initial reason for collec­tion. These comments provide the DHS/CBP with a list of the plan’s short­com­ings and fall into three main categor­ies: over­broad collec­tion of Amer­ic­ans’ data; over­broad reten­tion and shar­ing; and, lack of trans­par­ency.

The Bren­nan Center has previ­ously submit­ted comments on the DHS/CBP plan to prompt trav­el­ers to enter inform­a­tion asso­ci­ated with their social media iden­ti­fi­ers under the Visa Waiver Program, the Privacy and Civil Liber­ties Over­sight Board’s (PCLOB) plan to exam­ine coun­terter­ror­ism and surveil­lance activ­it­ies conduc­ted under Exec­ut­ive Order (EO) 12333, and the NSA’s surveil­lance activ­it­ies under both Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and Section 702 of the Foreign Intel­li­gence Act (FISA), part of the FISA Amend­ments Act of 2008 (FAA).


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Bren­nan Center and Eleven Civil Liber­ties Organ­iz­a­tions Submit Comments on DHS Plan to Collect Social Media Inform­a­tion