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City and finance


19 Apr 2017

BY Matthew Parsons


Be careful what you tweet: US customs could seek your social media passwords

Agents are advising caution to travellers visiting the US now they could face extra scrutiny over their social media accounts – on top of the recent laptop ban.


US customs seek more access to traveller's social media profiles

The Wall Street Journal reports that tourists from the UK and other countries visiting the US could be forced to reveal mobile phone contacts, social media passwords and financial data under “extreme vetting” practices being considered by the Trump administration.


In February, the US Department of Home Security (DHS) applied to amend the current ESTA visa form in order to ask for social media profiles pre-travel, and last month US authorities introduced a ban on larger mobile devices being taken into the aircraft cabin on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.


The UK has introduced a similar policy for devices for flights arriving from six named countries.


Kate Harris, owner of Inspired Travel in Burbage, said her customers would likely understand such demands for some online information, following the recent wave of terror attacks – including those in London and Stockholm – but argued that asking for social media passwords was a “step too far”.


She said: “At a time when there have been so many atrocities, perhaps people understand and agree [with the demands]. “However, I think asking for social media passwords and phones is a step too far and a breach of privacy.


“Also, how would it work at customs? People would be held up for hours, especially if, like me, they can never remember their passwords.”


For John O’Sullivan, marketing director at Key Travel, the advice for any concerned customers was simple. “Don’t tweet what you wouldn’t say,” he said. “Also, you can publish a tweet, then delete it, but it’s still there. As a travel management company it’s not something we advise on, but you have to be aware of your public persona.”


Around 3.8 million British nationals travel to the US every year.


What do you think? Is this a step too far, or does this help fight the threat of terrorism? Email us here or leave a comment below



Survey reveals half of Brits would refuse to hand over passwords

More than half of Brits have said they would simply refuse to comply with the proposed rules, according to a new survey from travel search engine Kayak...


  • 51% said they would simply refuse to hand over social media passwords – with an additional 29% saying they would feel uncomfortable about it
  • 63% feel the rules would be an "invasion of privacy"
  • 27% of Brits said they would refuse to share information on their political beliefs and ideologies
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) said it would make them less likely to visit the US – of these 37% said they "definitely would not go"
  • 47% said they would be worried about "authorities posting on their social media accounts", 52% highlighted concerns over settings being messed with and 50% would be worried authorities could access their banking details
  • Demand for holidays to the US among Brits has already fallen by half to key destinations since Trump came to office

Research conducted by Opinium Research for Kayak between April 10-12 2017 among 1,012 UK adults (online interviews).
The sample has been weighted to reflect a nationally representative audience



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