WASHINGTON, D.C. | www.adc.org | December 16, 2015 – Congress has concluded negotiations over how to fund the federal government in 2016 by proposing a bill that includes provisions to authorize discrimination, profiling, and cyber surveillance.
The bill includes requirements for travelers from all 38 visa-waiver program countries to get a visitor visa if they have recently traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan. The provision would also apply to dual citizens of these 38 countries, regardless of whether a citizen has spent time in both countries or not. For example, a dual French and Syrian citizen who has spent their entire life in France and never visited Syria would be barred from entering under the visa-waiver program, simply because of their heritage. This policy would amount to blatant discrimination against certain dual nationals of visa-waiver program countries. This includes dual nationals born to Iranian, Syrian, Sudanese, or Iraqi fathers, even if they have never set foot inside these countries.
The other measure that has been included in the bill would expand government cyber surveillance under the guise of protecting cybersecurity. It would increase government access to Americans’ personal data, providing only dangerously weak privacy protections. It would also allow companies to share large amounts of private consumer information with government agencies, including the FBI and NSA. This information can be used for criminal prosecutions unrelated to cybersecurity, including the targeting of whistleblowers under the Espionage Act.