back to article Will US border officials demand social network handles from visitors?

People visiting America may be pressured or told to reveal their social network profiles to border officials, judging by a draft visa form. In June, the US government announced it was considering adding a box to the I-94W form that gives folks the option of declaring their social media handles when entering the country. Uncle …

  1. hplasm
    Facepalm

    Stupid questions...

    Answered by stupid people.

    What will they do if you don't have or use SM? Not let you in?

    'Don't go' would be the answer- but see above...

    1. dan1980

      Re: Stupid questions...

      @hplasm

      That's close to the real point/question: what if you say: "I don't have one"?

      By that I mean: how will they decide whether you are being honest or deliberately trying to hide your accounts from them? Will you 'qualify' for extra scrutiny if you say you don't have any SM accounts?

      Another question is raised, which is: will they leave a bunch of blank space for free-text or list specific services (e.g. Facebook & Twitter)? If free-form, what if you have dozens and can't remember them all?

      I wonder how the citizens of living in the 'home of the brave' feel about how cowardly and paranoid their leaders are.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stupid questions...

        If you HONESTLY stay away from facebook, twatter and that shitty link-a-ding thinny, then the good immigration officials will kindly ask you to step aside, open your laptop, tablet, mobile, i-watch-thinny, enter appropriate passwords, take a seat in the adjacent room, while they're going through your files and e-mail accounts. Don't have any, sir? How can you explain you don't use e-mails, or social networking? We'll need to run some additional checks sir while you're being detained, purely for routine purposes, before we put you on the next available flight back that's scheduled for next Tuesday. Ha, got you there, you flinched! Only kidding! Not to worry, he flight's due tomorrow night!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Stupid questions...

          Small point, but important. E-mails are not social media.

          However if I was going to the states I would probably buy a simple (i.e. non-smart) phone for the duration and put a disposable pay-as-you-go SIM into it. That way they could search it all they like; there would be nothing on it. If they want to nick it for "investigation" then go ahead - they won;t find anything on it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stupid questions...

            e-mails are NOT social media, correct. BUT they can already "request" that you give them access to your laptop when entering the US, and if you object... well, I bet you not only go back where you came from, pronto, but lose the laptop.

            but yes, surely, you can appeal (no, really, they DO provide this option, once you return to your home country. You can appeal, but something tells me the figures on how many appeals have been upheld is classified information :)

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Stupid questions...

              "BUT they can already "request" that you give them access to your laptop when entering the US"

              solution: use FreeBSD with a CONSOLE login. Set up ALL virtual consoles to log in THROUGH! A! JAIL!

              if you tweek the appropriate config files, you can do this. I set it up this way as an experiment a while back, and had 2 consoles for 2 different jails (total 4). The thing is, to make this work properly, ALL of the virtual consoles have to be a jail. No big deal, really. THEN if they ask you the root password, make sure it's something like "TSA-sucks" or "F-U-very-much" or whatever. then they can look around your jail all day long and find NOTHING [it won't even run PING].

              when you want to use the computer for REAL, you ssh into the host machine, then use 'startx' for the X server. And don't forget to password protect 'single user' boot [or disable the boot console menu entirely]. And so on. And use UFS and ZFS to confuse them even more. Only a live filesystem boot (of an appropriate OS) would be able to access it.

              And if you have anything REALLY naughty to hide, put it in a file-backed memory-based file system that requires a cryptic and long pass-phrase just to mount it.

              So yeah, NO access to ANYONE without proper credentials! it can be done. And the beauty of THIS approach, you've given them something they don't understand very well to look at it, in which you can B.S. them all day like Simon the BOFH and they have no other choice but to nod vertically with jaws slack and eyes glazed over as you explain it all...

              1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Stupid questions...

                solution: use FreeBSD with a CONSOLE login. Set up ALL virtual consoles to log in THROUGH! A! JAIL!

                Sounds like the best way to flag up suspicions that you are a person who has something to hide, is someone who doesn't want to cooperate with what the powers that be demand of you. There must be a reason for that; and your reason for your doing that won't be what they suspect it is.

                Best not to take a laptop in the first place than try to hide things from them.

                1. Bernard M. Orwell

                  Re: Stupid questions...

                  Good morning Sir, welcome to the United States. Now, before we can let you in to the land of the free, we've got a few observations regarding your transit.

                  Thank you for handing over your laptop and mobile phone as requested; we won't need to be putting you on the first flight back after all. It's good to cooperate with our requests as a general rule, but it has left us with a couple of questions.

                  We've noted that your laptop is using an obscure form of Linux as its OS, not the state-approved Windows 10 that we expected, and you also appear to have modified the hardware to a degree. Now, you must realise that attempting to bypass the covert...er..sorry, legal backdoors that we've forced software and hardware manufacturers to put in place is a felo....is going to be a felony soon?

                  Also, you appear to be using ToR and HTTPS wherever possible, and you've encrypted your drives. Very sensible, I'd say, but you've failed to freely offer up your passwords and keys on the form provided.

                  Now, none of these things are a problem when taken individually, but we're also concerned that your social media profiles all appear to be unused and created within the last couple of weeks, and the mobile phone you're carrying was bought in the airport lobby 15 minutes ago, so we've no choice but to ask you to accompany these men in dark suits and sunglasses to the quiet room at the end of the corridor so that they can confirm your real identity.

                  Thank you for cooperation and we trust you enjoy your...extended stay...in the USA.

              2. Christoph

                Re: Stupid questions...

                "you've given them something they don't understand very well"

                So they congratulate you on your cleverness while holding you and sending all your electronics off for detailed study by the people who do understand this stuff.

                If and when you get it back, you can sit happily on the deportation flight home trying to see if you can find any of the software and hardware bugs they've added to your kit.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Stupid questions...

                @Bob : interesting concept, but I imagine that it might be counterproductive. After all, someone with a complex setup that is too hard for the layman to understand MUST have something to hide, right ? So better detain him while we get the IT team in, who may or may not have a *DUMMY MODE* switch.

                I would imagine a vanilla OS with some random files, naughty pics and so on would pass cursory inspection. Dual boot from a USB stick or an sd card, mount hidden partition and you're your uncle. Or something.

              4. herman Silver badge

                Re: Stupid questions...

                You can jump through all those hoops, or you can just log them into a guest account.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Stupid questions...

                  You can jump through all those hoops, or you can just log them into a guest account.

                  I did say business. Our people need access to their business tools and communication (which, by the way, we also shield) like any other member of staff, but they need to do that without the biggest spy nation in the world abusing that access. Like most European companies who also operate in the US we deploy a subnet for systems that are accessed from the US, with some serious firewalling between that and the core, and all access is actively monitored for signs of trouble.

              5. Wommit

                Re: Stupid questions...

                @Bombastic Bob,

                Don't try to piss off the TSA operatives. They can go home at the end of their shift, could you just walk out of the interrogation room?

                They have all the time they need, do you?

                They have the law on their side (rightly or wrongly) do you?

                Do not try to pisseth off THE MAN. For THE MAN is vengeful, and will smite thine arse with Bubba, and the friends of Bubba, until the end of time.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Stupid questions...

                  sadly, you're right. All the posturing about fake fb accounts and burner phones are just that - posturing, as they're likely to raise the red flag more than not. If you have a good reason to go to the US, and one good reason not to try anything funny is that you've taken time off work, and spent quite a lot on your tickets and accommodation prior to your trip, so you definitely don't want to fuck around with people with sometimes appear and act retarded, and never have any sense of humour (that's any border folk, by the way). And if you give them just an incling of taking a piss, oh boy, you give them a perfect excuse to have a field day - with you. Given their job is, generally, processing hundreds of bodies per day, thus BORING, any chance for a break and play they'd get is probably greeted with their applause.

                  This, unfortunately, presents me with a poser (for my next year's trip).

              6. HarryBl

                Re: Stupid questions...

                "THEN if they ask you the root password, make sure it's something like "TSA-sucks" or "F-U-very-much""

                It's never really sensible to be a smartarse with someone whose employers provides them with free rubber gloves...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stupid questions...

            However if I was going to the states I would probably buy a simple (i.e. non-smart) phone for the duration and put a disposable pay-as-you-go SIM into it. That way they could search it all they like; there would be nothing on it. If they want to nick it for "investigation" then go ahead - they won;t find anything on it.

            The problem is that that is not feasible for business. We had to implement a border crossing policy quite simply because we have legal obligations for client confidentiality. As US Customs can seize equipment and data at leisure, it automatically creates the need for us to prevent their access to information that isn't their business to have other than in the process of a formal investigation supported by proper due process (which any Customs search is not).

            There was only one way to make that possible: executives cross the border with blank equipment. If they have been touched by Customs outside view of our execs and/or devices have been inserted in any port, that piece of equipment is declared infected and will need to be reflashed before we will use it again. In the end we started a small US office to hold equipment there under tamperproof seal so we didn't have to do this twice every time someone crossed.

            We're presently evaluating if it makes sense to continue business in the US as the risk management overhead just keeps growing.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Stupid questions...

              The hilarious part is that what you describe is the same procedure recommended to US nationals traveling to China on business. You know, because China are a repressive paranoid Xenophobic security state.

          3. Rimpel

            Re: Stupid questions...

            "Mr northhants you seem to be attempting to bring a foreign burner phone into the USA. Would you like to follow me to the 'interrogation room'"

      2. Edwin

        Re: Free Fix!!!

        "I wonder how the citizens of living in the 'home of the brave' feel about how cowardly and paranoid their leaders are."

        That's easy: they don't care, because it doesn't apply to them. In fact, a disturbingly large number of them probably think it's a great idea: just ask yourself "what would Trump think?"

        Given the above, and the fact that the right-thinking part of the country probably doesn't care enough to stop this lunacy, I think us forunners are screwed if work or holiday takes us to the "Home of the Brave (but not enough to stand up to anyone in power)"(TM).

        1. gerritv

          Re: Free Fix!!!

          Don't forget to clean under your finger nails, they will be fingerprinting you on entry. Unless you are Canadian, in which case you have for now a reprieve on that violation.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Free Fix!!!

          For a large portion, it's not that they don't care, it's that they are actively supportive as long as it doesn't apply to them (or people who look like/run in the same social circles/have the same political beliefs as them).

          Example: "I support cops, law enforcement is the backbone of our orderly society, those BLM whiners need to just shut up, I hope the cops beat the crap out of all of them". Oh, but those federal law enforcement agents in Oregon that arrested Vanilla ISIS are bad guys, cuz they're just minions for 'Bama

          Not a new nor a US only phenomenon, by any means. Easiest way to power is to exploit our innate fears of the different or unfamiliar, and persuade a large portion of the populace that you can protect them from $EVIL_BADTHING.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Free Fix!!!

            For a large portion, it's not that they don't care, it's that they are actively supportive as long as it doesn't apply to them (or people who look like/run in the same social circles/have the same political beliefs as them).

            Example: "I support cops, law enforcement is the backbone of our orderly society, those BLM whiners need to just shut up, I hope the cops beat the crap out of all of them". Oh, but those federal law enforcement agents in Oregon that arrested Vanilla ISIS are bad guys, cuz they're just minions for 'Bama

            It's hard to pretend this if you have the wrong skin colour, though.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @dan1980 -- Re: Stupid questions...

        I wonder how the citizens of living in the 'home of the brave' feel about how cowardly and paranoid their leaders are.

        Well, this one doesn't like it in the slightest. The slippery slope is getting slipperier. The next step is for all citizens to turn over their account info. If we don't use SM, I suppose we'll either be forced to open an account or have an extended visit to a dreadful place.

        They want to spend our tax money on something that won't do a damn bit of good. So what's the point other than job justification and harassment of visitors?

    2. Novex

      Re: Stupid questions...

      Aaaargh! Is this REALLY still a THING!? Don't they understand some of us just don't have these accounts? How can they prove we do, and we prove we don't? It's bloody ridiculous.

      And, if you are someone really into social media, how many accounts are you going to have? Just how much space is going to be made available to list them all?

      Grrrrr....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid questions...

      It creates an interesting set of choices for people who want to visit The Land Of The Not So Free:

      - Provide the data and be monitored forever

      - Create a totally empty profile (that's not going to help if they ask for all of them)

      - Lie and thus give them an excuse to throw you out later when it suits them

      - Abandon social media - the sensible option, but very hard for anyone who have built a live of a business around it.

      Now here's a fun problem: what happens if you don't use social media, but someone has created a profile in your name? This policy could provide endless fun for politicians and celebs where there are probably more fakes than actual profiles, which means you will probably asked to provide full access for evidence - at which point I'd *really* start reconsidering any use of social media.

      I'm all for it as it could cause more harm to social media than any *reasonable* discussion about the risks has done. That is, for people that want to visit US, and I must admit that that is looking less and less appealing every year. We already had to implement a US entry policy which blocks travelling execs from accessing company resources until they confirm they cleared US Customs, and even that's conditional on them not having to hand off any equipment because then that needs reflashing first (and that's admin

      Bonus question: just social media, or also your access to other sites? El Reg's for instance? Email? Browser history? Why not stop the pretence and go the full Stasi?

      1. Wommit

        Re: Stupid questions...

        We already had to implement a US entry policy which blocks travelling execs from accessing company resources until they confirm they cleared US Customs, and even that's conditional on them not having to hand off any equipment because then that needs reflashing first"

        Reflashing, then bleaching, and maybe thermal shock treatment (with thermite.)

        Even then, I'm not sure that I'd trust that device ever again.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Mushroom

          Re: Stupid questions...

          Nuke it from orbit, its the only way to be sure.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Stupid questions...

      "Answered by stupid people."

      Reminds me of a line from the original 'Ghostbusters' movie: "When someone asks you if you are a god, you say YES!"

      Or, you answer the questions on the test the way the "social indoctrination" studies prof/teacher wants them to be, regardless of whether or not you actually BELIEVE it to be the case. get the grade, get the credit, then forget all of the indoctrination afterwards.

      And it's STUPIDER to use Face-blank (and maybe Tw[a,i]tter) in the FIRST place, In My Bombastic Opinion.

    5. kmac499

      Re: Stupid questions...

      My social media is pretty boring mainly photos of Dogs and Motorbikes; what I'm really worried about is the subversive literature I've got on my book shelf. It's a book by an author despised in some areas of the US proposing an alternative theory which contradicts and denies their world views.

      Yes its that great page turner "On the Origin of Species" by Mr C. Darwin

      BTW I don't suppose it would make any difference but I do have a biology degree.

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    So what if I do not have one?

    I do not have a f***book account, I do not have a Tw*tter account either. I am considering deleting the LinkedIn account as well, though for now I am just keeping it dormant.

    Does this make me a terrorist(*)?

    * I know where we stand per UK law. I am officially in violation of section 57 of the UK Terrorism act of 2000 - possession of materials usable for terrorism. The material in question is the content of my brain - I studied Chemistry and have an MSc from the days when the Chemical Weapons course was freshly renamed to Toxicology (and still had the old content, thankfully sans the lab part), I have worked for several years with radioactive materials in a Mol Biol lab and have done my chores growing viruses and "interesting" bacteria and meddling with their DNA. And of course - 20 years of career in IT including security after that. That violates all applicable UK ThoughCrime statutes outright - you 're not supposed to know that.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: So what if I do not have one?

      "I do not have a f***book account, I do not have a Tw*tter account either."*

      Ditto

      "I am considering deleting the LinkedIn account as well, though for now I am just keeping it dormant."

      I am currently in the same process of deciding whether or not to delete the LinkedIn account as well..

      I am slowly becoming extremely paranoid about any online presence whatsoever, and I consider that I have nothing to hide, but it would annoy me to also have to delete El Reg :

      quote Miranda.

      "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. "

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: quote Miranda.

        "Anything you say can and will be used against you in what I call a court of law."

        1. Christoph

          Re: quote Miranda.

          "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."

          -- Cardinal Richelieu

      2. Your alien overlord - fear me

        Re: So what if I do not have one?

        I deleted my LinkedIn account when I kept getting 'friends of friends' who I might know wanting to be my friends. And companies wanting to hire me to do work. Arghhh !!!

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      @Voland's right hand - Re: So what if I do not have one?

      The other day, I followed a chain of links from this esteemed website, and ended up on a Wikipedia page reading about how shaped explosives are designed & used in nuclear bombs. Quite interesting I found - especially the bit about where they use air gaps in the explosives to help shape blast. But having now read up on explosives and nuclear weapons, I'm obviously a terrorist and need to be locked up for the good of society.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: @Voland's right hand - So what if I do not have one?

        As you said "I'm...a terrorist"...

        Clearly you shouldn't be on the streets, but our prison are already full, so I suggest you lock yourself in the cupboard under the stairs and push the key under the door.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what if I do not have one?

      I know where we stand per UK law. I am officially in violation of section 57 of the UK Terrorism act of 2000 - possession of materials usable for terrorism. The material in question is the content of my brain

      Actually, that's an interesting one. I'm also under the UK OSA so it's a good thing the US and US are chums, because if you look at what the US does it'll now be officially worse than going to China.

      That same China, for which any visit, ironically, lands me with a reporting and debriefing requirement despite the fact that the government is desperate to cosy up to them now to prove that Brexit is a good thing.

      And no, I don't do social media either, I actively avoid any companies that run their support over Twitter or Facebook because I'm not going to be forced to sign up to those Terms just to contact them. My telco is making sounds about going "popular" in their support as well, so they're now talking to the Information Commissioner about the wisdom of that idea. Stupid Marketing goons.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what if I do not have one?

      The thoughtcrime unit will round you up for reprocessing citizen

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: So what if I do not have one?

      "The material in question is the content of my brain"

      Have you checked how much of it's still there? My time line must be similar to yours and I'm not sure how much of the original BSc Botany I could dredge up.

    6. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Yes you have

      There's your account on The Register.

      And did you ever use MySpace? Friends Reunited? Do you remember?

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what if I do not have one?

      According to Ms May et al, terrorists use social media to co-ordinate their attacks and diseminate their propaganda. Therefore anyone who has a computer, never mind a facebook account is "in possession of materials usable for terrorism.".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So what if I do not have one?

        According to Ms May et al, terrorists use social media to co-ordinate their attacks and disseminate their propaganda

        Oh yes they do ..

        :)

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    I "demand" they bugger off if they want me to enter their country again.

    They're doing a good job at the moment of keeping me away. It started with the 9/11 knee-jerk nonsense, continued with thinking Donald Trump is worthy of media attention for anything other than ridicule when he's debasing all those "foreigners", and this would just escalate it more.

    I honestly HAVEN'T been back to the US in over 10 years because of their stupid policies on this and other things. I can't see that changing, even as a holidaymaker, until they stop all that nonsense.

    Though I suppose that's exactly what they actually want. It won't be until they get it that they realise that's possibly the worst thing they could do, but maybe it will supply them with some hubris over whether their country is "the best in the world". Or they could go totally North Korea and just shut off all the borders and pretend the rest of the world either doesn't exist or must be vastly inferior.

    What was the news yesterday? The DNS zone for .kr got leaked and there are about 28 websites in total in the entire country. Yeah, world leaders right there. The US is just going the same way, except they aren't doing it by dictator, they are doing it by electing one in what was a pretty fair and democratic process. Go USA!

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      "Or they could go totally North Korea and just shut off all the borders and pretend the rest of the world either doesn't exist or must be vastly inferior."

      They are already half-way there. Look up how many US citizens have a passport. See how many US politicians are up to speed with events outside the US and just look at the US baseball "World Series". See any non-US teams there?

      It's like a lot of places that are big and have an undue influence on their surrounding areas. *Cough* London *Cough*

      You don't have to live on an island to be insular.

      1. James O'Shea

        'just look at the US baseball "World Series". See any non-US teams there?'

        Sorry, but that's a bad example.

        1 the Toronto Blue Jays are, last I looked, from Canada. The Montreal Expos moved to Washington, DC and changed their name to the Nationals. The Blue Jays are currently fighting it out with Boston and Baltimore and Detroit to make the playoffs. They have a chance, not a good one, but a chance, of being in the Series this year. They have been in the Series a few times, winning it all in 1992 and 1993. (The Expos were, well, pitiful... until they moved to Washington. Now they're pretty good.)

        2 a considerable percentage of the players on the various teams come from Japan, and Korea, and Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic (hint: that's not Dominica) and Cuba. And even a few from Canada.

        3 the 'World Series' was first thought up as an advertising stunt by the New York World newspaper. It didn't work, there is no more New York World newspaper and hasn't been for a very long time.

        1. sabroni Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          re: Sorry, but that's a bad example.

          The USA and Canada are definitely the main countries of the world. Add in players from 5 other countries and that is truly a World series!!

          (Of all the countries that give a shit about rounders.....)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          World Series

          "3 the 'World Series' was first thought up as an advertising stunt by the New York World newspaper."

          Not according to Snopes:

          http://www.snopes.com/business/names/worldseries.asp

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Rubber gloves or Facebook?

    Difficult choice. Does Zuck wear latex gloves too?

    1. Wommit

      Re: Rubber gloves or Facebook?

      Nope. You is just his Bitch.

  5. Hans 1

    How big is the box, I have a number of different handles (throw-away email addresses, anyone ?) How am I to remember all those, my password manager does that for me ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How am I to remember all those, my password manager does that for me ...

      Easy - they'll ask for access to your password manager.

      You've just provided one of the key reasons for either not having a password manager at all, or use a few separate ones..

      1. VinceH

        Personally, in the increasingly unlikely event I was ever to visit the Untidy State of Overpuddle*, I wouldn't take a computer with me - or if I did, it would be a fairly minimal set up capable of doing whatever I need to do on it, and not much more.

        As Hans 1 said, my arrangement is that I use more or less throw away email addresses; unique per site/company addresses in most cases. I have a couple of domain names set up for the purposes, and on one of those a number of subdomains. This means I can easily set up a computer to access a subset of my mailboxes as necessary. Social media stuff is on its own subdomain, so it would be easy to not have any social media-related email on the computer.

        The same with a password manager - I wouldn't copy my entire database onto the computer, only the subset of passwords I'm going to need.

        * When I was much younger, there were various places in Overpuddle that I'd have liked to visit - but over the years, nonsense like this has increasingly put me off. Now I'd only go there if I actually had to go there for some reason, and I can't really see that happening.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Another tick box,....

    ..on my reasons not to visit the USA.

    Shame, there are some good people there.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Another tick box,....

      Exactly. The Americans I have met on every trip in the past were nice, smart and friendly people.

      Sadly the new look being projected by the US government is one of paranoia, distrust and antagonism and it really makes me avoid going there (or passing through for flight connections, because they have no concept of "international transfer" and you have to go through the customs & immigration experience twice).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another tick box,....

        You think it is bad now, if Trump gets elected merely asking for social media handles will be the least of your worries trying to visit the US.

  7. Mage Silver badge
    Big Brother

    SM ducks and decoys

    Obviously even if you are innocent:

    1) You need a decoy account as well as the important ons, and why are you on SM anyway?

    OR

    2) You need to create a decoy account and post made up drivel occasionally if you have no SM accounts. (I've been doing this for years).

    This ought to be illegal under some sort of international convention, along with much else done without a Court order due to believable cause.

    I'd not carry the passwords for anything important while travelling. I only memorise two.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bound to get deported?

    What if your only SM account is S&M?

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Bound to get deported?

      Then be prepared for them to whip that damned password out of you, ball gag or not, you will obey.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bound to get deported?

      Or beeg.com...

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Bound to get deported?

        or 'El Reg' comments

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bound to get deported?

      What if your only SM account is S&M?

      It'll make torture problematic :)

      1. JaitcH
        Unhappy

        Re: Bound to get deported?

        You'll be denied entry on the grounds that you are a morality risk to the gentle folk who inhabit that country.

        The ICE types who greet you on arrival call it "Moral Turpitude", that is a legal concept in the United States that refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.

        Plan on never re-entering.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bound to get deported?

          conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.

          Ah, that explains why so few police men travel. There must be get-out clauses though, I know for a fact that a lot of Wall Street bankers also travel. And their politicians.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        Re: Bound to get deported?

        No, they'll threaten to not torture you

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I vowed never to grace their shores again in 2003; it took longer to get through security at a rather quiet Orlando airport, than it did to fly the Atlantic.

    Even then the paranoia was offensively obsessive; I can understand machine guns being swung in the direction of a metal detector when it goes off, but to keep pointing them at my 7 y/o son even AFTER they found the drawing pin stuck in the heel of his shoe is beyond the pale.

    Not to say we didnt enjoy our visit AFTER we got through security; it was coming up on the 9/11 anniversary and all the yanks were hiding under their beds, expecting another attack; so the Disney parks were empty - not a queue to be found at any of them.

    1. hitmouse

      I was surrounded by armed guards (audibly taking their guns off safety) because some idiot processed someone else through with my same common first+lastname. Apparently it was MY fault. Haven't been back.

  10. Ian Watkinson

    Oh you mean my orkut and myspace details...well why didn't you say...msn and icq addresses, yeah sure.

    What do you mean you don't have any more space...

    1. BongoJoe

      Somewhere I have a CiX and a Compuserve account but, I am buggered if I can remember what they are/were.

  11. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    El Reg?

    Does this count as a social medium? (Or even, given the grumpy old fart nature of many of us commentards, an anti-social medium)

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: El Reg?

      Strangely enough, this is the only forum or social-anything-type-whatsit where I haven't created an account using a nym which at least identifiably approximates my real name. It's also about the only one I ever use anymore, with the rest only being kept alive just so I've got an account reserved under my actual name in case there's ever a valid reason to use it (the last time being four years ago).

      I expect the TSA will be fascinated to know that I was once informed via Farcebook of the date and location of an open-mic night, organised by a now-dead friend.

      Oh no, I've now published details which will let the NSA connect my two accounts! Bad me.

  12. LewisRage

    Too many to list

    I've been using made up shit for social media for years, not only can I not remember them all they're all used for exactly nothing beyond occasionally stalking someone elses profile.

    But how do they define social media. Pretty much anything these days comes with some kind of social media-esq element. Do they need my Battlefield accounts? How about spotify? I certainly hope they don't want Playstation network accounts as I suspect my account name of Mullah-Lite may raise a few eyebrows, especially if they look up the address it is registered to...

    1400 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-1400

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to America - only stupid people let in

    #HereAreMyDetailedPlans - because the baddies always explain themselves at the end of Hollywood films

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are they going to supply the Persian cat?

      I can only explain my evil and insidious plans while stroking a white cat (even at an airport standards must be maintained; it is all, Mr. Bond, that separates us from ravening beasts...)

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Are they going to supply the Persian cat?

        "Attention, please. Passengers for Hidden Volcano Lair are now boarding at Gate 51. Please have your pet passports available for inspection. Anaconda owners are asked to coil their snakes carefully before approaching the desk."

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Welcome to America - only stupid people let in

      hopefully in the next election cycle we'll keep the politically correct nutbags from running the asylum... and then TSA will start PROFILING people that are likely to BE terrorists, who aren't Gramma, little 4 year old Cindy, your average tourist, etc..

      being unwilling to even LOOK like you're suspecting some bearded guy coming from Syria with an "up to something" look in his eyes is just, plain, dumb. Instead, they have TSA feel up average citizens, take your belt and shoes off and waddle to the scanner hoping your pants don't hit the ground, yotta yotta yotta. It's just stupid, yeah. Or, better still, the STUPID PEOPLE are IN CHARGE at the moment...

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Welcome to America - only stupid people let in

        Sorry, but terrorists and smugglers look like everyone else.

        Profiling is a waste of time at the border. It's too late.

        What you do is you flip a coin and if the coin is heads, you search them. It's that simple. They then cannot take the risk that they'll hit a random inspection, and you only have to search X% of people as ever.

        While you're dealing with "Mr He Looks Dodgy", the guy you wave through to get to him is carrying the bomb or whatever in his suitcase and business suit. You take the decision away from the searching staff and put it on random inspections - including grannies and kids - and you have a system that's hard and risky to beat.

        Problem is, that costs money from which you're not able to cream off 10% for your brother-in-law's biometrics company, computer vision subsidy, etc.

        And the more dignified the search, the more likely people will go through with it and not argue and waste time.

        Precisely what am I going to put in my belt that I couldn't put in my luggage or down the leg of my jeans that's going through the same scanner? Nothing. Asking me to undress or unpack the laptop means your system IS CONFUSED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE WEARING CLOTHES OR LUGGAGE THAT'S PACKED. That's a pretty serious flaw for a security system at an airport. But fix that? No. That costs too much (and my brother-in-law only sells cheap junk that can't do that).

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: Welcome to America - only stupid people let in

        Mr Bob,

        We had an incident where two white people on a plane reported to the staff on board that two Muslims were reading (apparently terrorist) stuff in Arabic on their phones. The two women they were watching were escorted off. No Arabic on phones, not Arabic at all, just with headscarves. The police warned them that 'they would be checked' even though it was clear that they were two young Brits on holiday. The finger-pointers, who had actually lied (no doubt they had worked themselves into a froth) apparently sat comfortably through the flight.

        I agree that it is smarter to profile your targets but given the excitable nature of people (remember the 'stand your ground' chap in Florida who got himself all worked up over nothing and took a young innocent life?) I don't trust the authorities at all. If US cops can't handle kids with toy guns, I can't see their equivalent getting the real bad guys at all.

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Science Fiction

    So those stores were not fiction after all. You know, the ones where America becomes totally cut off from the rest of the world and only a handful of very brave people manage to escape.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Science Fiction

      "We're gonna climb the wall. It's gonna be a great climb, the best climb. And I'll get the Mexicans to pay for it."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Science Fiction

      So those stores were not fiction after all. You know, the ones where America becomes totally cut off from the rest of the world and only a handful of very brave people manage to escape.

      I wonder if you can claim asylum after having escaped that asylum...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Science Fiction

      They would have no problem letting people out. You just won't be able to get back in. If such a future with Emperor Trump ever comes to pass, I'll definitely be good. Never been there, but New Zealand seems like it might be a nice place to live....hopefully they would accept refugee Americans even when the reverse would not be true :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Science Fiction

        hopefully they would accept refugee Americans even when the reverse would not be true

        You better hope your refugee status includes getting a new passport then. You may have left the US, but according to the IRS it's actually called Hotel California - you can check out any time, but you can never leave.

        One of the most annoying side effects of this is that getting an ordinary bank account is somewhere between hard and impossible for US passport holders. When banks discovered that the US imposed paperwork overhead of a normal account was costing them more than they earned, they ejected Americans faster than the US ejects illegal immigrants. We may again end up with queues at US embassies of US passport holders seeking to become ex Americans, even when (never one to turn down a possible profit) they jacked up the price.

  15. Crisp

    That's good to know.

    Next time I have to go through US Customs I'll have to have a fake facebook account set up that's full of memes about how great america is and about how much I love democracy and freedom.

    1. TitterYeNot

      Re: That's good to know.

      "Next time I have to go through US Customs I'll have to have a fake facebook account set up that's full of memes about how great america is and about how much I love democracy and freedom."

      I think I'd go with a "Team America: World Police" themed dummy account. I get the general impression that Americans don't do sarcasm or satire (possibly they do irony instead) so there'd be a lovely whoosh as it went straight over the security goon's head.

      - I see you have a device. What's your password?

      - It's 'America!FuckYeah!'

      - Welcome to America Sir! Enjoy your stay!

      1. GrumpyOldBloke

        Re: That's good to know.

        Hmmm, some sort of vigilante are you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's good to know.

      Next time I have to go through US Customs I'll have to have a fake facebook account set up that's full of memes about how great america is and about how much I love democracy and freedom.

      That'll work, provided you make it clear you mean AMERICAN "democracy" and "freedom".

      They're not very hot on sarcasm anyway which helps.

  16. Mystic Megabyte
    Stop

    Nope!

    No intention of going to a place where the cops can take all your money with no way to get it back. They won't even reveal how much they have nabbed.

    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/09/nypd-cant-count-cash-theyve-seized-because-it-would-crash-computers/

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Nope!

      And make it difficult to get it back if you're innocent:

      www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kEpZWGgJks

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No intention of going to a place where the cops can take all your money with no way to get it back.

      Well, then do make sure to scratch Canada off your list, too:

      http://www.torontosun.com/2016/03/08/seizure-of-crime-proceeds-often-a-provincial-cash-grab-new-report-finds

    3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Nope!

      Because I have a few good friends there, I do go, but I go with minimal cash on me, one credit card that is ring-fenced for USA only, and take no devices at all. One can actually live without a phone. And indeed a computer. But of course my visits are social visits

  17. Alan Bourke

    Shit ...

    ... I can't even remember my MySpace one from 12 years ago ...

  18. gautam

    Welcome "DON" Trump

    ..to the White House.

    You are the only missing link now left to make the US of A the greatest country again (after NK).

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a draft copy [PDF] of the new visa forms

    strictly speaking, it's a non-visa visa form, for those citizens of US-friendly countries, that do not require a proper visa and proper visa-visa visa form.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: a draft copy [PDF] of the new visa forms

      So what crucial security information does the proper visa-visa form ask for? Testicle weight? Estimated number of days until menopause?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a draft copy [PDF] of the new visa forms

        I bet it asks you if you're a terrorist and the next question is "are you sure?", while the non-visa visa form skips the 2nd, more intrusive question.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a draft copy [PDF] of the new visa forms

        I've got no problems, been circumcised!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Say Hello to this new underworld of virtual digital leg chains.

    Given this new world of virtual digital leg chains, would Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandella have been digitally 'shut down' & virtually shackled, if they had been born 60 years later?

  21. Old Tom

    Facebook id?

    Really, how many people know their Facebook id? I'd guess it's significantly less than 0.25%, indeed I'd postulate that 98% of people wouldn't know that they have one and would simply offer-up their name.

    I can get my FB id from my laptop's browser, but just quickly tried and failed to extract it from my phone browser. I know I have Flikr and Instagram accounts, but I don't know my handles on them. Same story with Linked-in I know my name, but not the unique identifier they must have. I'd seriously need at least 10-15 minutes at home with my own computer to find all this stuff out.

    I bet that's not uncommon, and you're filling this form in on an aeroplane with no Interweb access?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facebook id?

      I bet that's not uncommon, and you're filling this form in on an aeroplane with no Interweb access?

      I suspect they'll add it to the online application form, otherwise I can't see this make sense. Let me rephrase that, it would make even less sense than it does already.

      Personally I'm not buying the terrorist angle, it;s just another tool in helping the agencies grab as much data off foreigners for the benefit of Glorious Motherland. Sorry, channeled NK there for a moment, it's hard to tell the difference these day.

  22. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Code a bot to post random nonsense to tw*tter and other social media sites, then produce the names of said handles used on said social media sites.

    Oh wait... chances are it will post something offensive. So scratch that then.

    1. hitmouse

      ...or get elected president.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        or get elected president

        But....

        you have to be born in the USA (and not called Bruce) in order to qualify to stand as El Presidente.

        Remember that Donald 'it is not a rug' Trump has only just ack'd that Obama was born in Hawaii and not somewhere with a name ending in *stan.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: or get elected president

          I am Mr Stan Khan and was born on the border between in Englishstan & Scottishstan. WIll I be allowed in ?

          What about Mexistan.

          How about Mr Aga Khan ?

          Questions, questions. What should be my FB handles ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh wait... chances are it will post something offensive. So scratch that then.

      If you don't use a Microsoft bot you ought to be OK :).

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US border officials 'to demand' social network handles from visitors

    can't they just put a call in to the NSA seeing as how they've already got all that info on their servers?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least they are honest.

    About the implied admission that they have access to and routinely read all our social media, despite Fuck Fuckerberg insisting that all our messages are encrypted on whatsapp and protecting our privacy is their lifetime vocation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least they are honest.

      protecting his privacy is their lifetime vocation

      FIFY ..

  25. WonkoTheSane
    Big Brother

    I wonder...

    *Checks to see if the Tw*tter handle "Not Applicable" is available*

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's get really social ...

    Does Grindr count as social media? "Sure officer, you look like a strong and interesting man ..."

  27. Christoph

    They have a perfectly valid reason for demanding this information

    It's "Because we can".

    They don't need any actual use case for it - they simply grab everything just in case. It satisfies the urge to "Do something!" even knowing it's pointless, and it lets them prove that they can impose whatever they want on funny foreigners and those foreigners have to meekly kow-tow.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arse

    I want to go to the Eastern Seaboard next time we go cruising (bet that phrase will cause some NSAbot to wet itself).

    Now, hrmm not sure and my wife is black.

    1. Wommit

      Re: Arse

      Yeah, I got one of them too. Hee hee.

  29. Nifty Silver badge

    Can't get a bank account or credit card without a debt in the U.S.

    There's an old and likely true pre-internet story that recent arrivals in the U.S. have a devil of a job of obtaining a bank account and credit card. Because the first thing the bank asks for is proof of your existing mortgage or any other loans. No loans? Hmm it looks like you don't actually exist then.

    What goes around, comes around.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Contact Information

    Email, phone, social media. If you're using any of those, you can assume NSA already has full details. This form is just the government asking how they should reach out to you if necessary. No need to list twitter/fb unless that's the only thing you pay attention to.

    You're all paranoid.

  31. Tom Paine

    Simple answer

    Don't go. I'd already got the US on my list of places to never ever visit, having heard so many horror stories from friends and family about the gestapo at immigration -- if there was ever a reason to actually visit a country full of Americans anyway for reasons other than horrified anthropological study.

    1. Matthew Collier
      Stop

      Re: Simple answer

      Me too! I stopped going to the USA after 9/11 when the current stupidity at the border started. I *do* have a reason to visit (family), but I refuse to go there and the reasons keep multiplying!

      I see my family only when they come to a slightly more "free"* country, i.e. here in Blighty.

      It's a sad old world, but there are so many better places to go and visit than the arse states, so when I've exhausted good places to go visit, perhaps I'll re-consider... ;) :D

      * - increasingly less by the day, sadly...

    2. evilhippo

      Re: Simple answer

      I too have stopped going to the USA due to the hassle of getting through the border, but I hope my comment does not mark me as a complete oaf in the way yours marks you.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironic

    That the USA, a country created by immigrants, is becoming as xenophobic and dictatorial as the countries many of its founders chose to flee from to create "the land of the free".

  33. JaitcH
    Happy

    The Problem with Boxes on Forms is that the Lesser Intelligent of the Species ...

    require that they be filled.

    Older people can get away with murder, so to speak. They aren't quite sure what social media is. So confuse the ICE men:

    http://wickedspatula.com; www.dogforum.com; http://www.birdforum.net.

    But remember, lying to a US Federal official is a felony - so at least sign up.

  34. nilfs2
    Trollface

    The USA is not a country to take seriously

    After knowing that Trump has a real chance to become a president, I lost all credibility and respect for that country and most of their people; I actually want Trump to win just for the lulz.

  35. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
    Pint

    "The War Against Terror (TWAT)"

    Thank you, El Reg. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  36. wub
    Alert

    I think I may be emigrating, soon.

    Several folks have mused about what the fine citizens of American think about this, generally with the comment that since it doesn't apply to them, they won't care. If anyone else has addressed this, I missed it. Well I do care and I wish I didn't believe it. It reminds me of the requirement for all foreigners to provide fingerprints and be photographed on entry. And the question on the form about whether you intend to violently overthrow the system (or whatever wording they used...). There is no practical justification for all this - there is zero chance it will forward any of their stated or unstated goals. They'll just be deluged with a mass of data that they can't possibly process into information in any meaningful way. The "Bad Guys" they are trying to identify will have no problem circumventing this, and regular people will encounter all sorts of problems and very likely decide to stay away in droves.

    And we will all be poorer for it. I feel the root cause stems from the whole "foreign == strange == frightening" equation that has served evolutionarily to protect prey from predators and other threats. This kind of response is latent in all of us. You can't turn it off, you have to face it down like any other fear. What we really need is MORE contact between people, cultures, races not less. If we just get a chance to know each other better perhaps we can behave in a more reasonable manner. We don't all have to love each other, but we could be civil if we gave it a shot.

    But just as Brexit seemed to catch everybody by surprise, even those who voted for it, I'm seriously concerned that Don is going to find himself in the Oval Office thinking, "Oh f***, what did I get myself into" after a few days, just a Colin Powell seems to have predicted. So we'll probably look back on this and laugh about it in a few years, given what other new fun regulations are headed our way.

  37. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    don't go to the USA. problem solved.

  38. joed

    our tax money at work

    "The DHS estimates the cost of such monitoring would be about $300m a year." - so where do I sign up for a piece of the pie? Or is this revolving door personnel only.

  39. evilhippo

    You mean people still willingly travel to the USA? I have lots of friends there but I just wait for them to visit me, or just use Skype, as it is just not worth the hassle of getting felt up with some barely intelligible officious drone with a below average IQ to get into the country. There are plenty of other places to visit for a great deal less effort.

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