Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Fingerprinted and Facebooked at the Border

According to the Wall St Journal, “Iranian Crackdown Goes Global ,” Iran is monitoring Facebook, and in a move reminiscent of the Soviets, arresting people whose relatives criticize the regime online.

That trend is part of a disturbing tendency to criminalize thoughts, intents, and violations of social norms, those things which are bad because they are prohibited, not bad in themselves. It’s important if we want to export freedom of speech and freedom from self-incrimination, to push for an international norm of limiting the powers of governments, not of people. Of course, since the main way that the international reach of governments is limited is through treaties negotiated by, umm, governments, I don’t expect a lot of that soon.

Not to mention the creation of fake Facebook accounts by Iranian intelligence.

But most interesting is this:

Five interviewees who traveled to Iran in recent months said they were forced by police at Tehran’s airport to log in to their Facebook accounts. Several reported having their passports confiscated because of harsh criticism they had posted online about the way the Iranian government had handled its controversial elections earlier this year.


One 28-year-old physician who lives in Dubai said that in July he was asked to log on to his Facebook account by a security guard upon arrival in Tehran’s airport. At first, he says, he lied and said he didn’t have one. So the guard took him to a small room with a laptop and did a Google search for his name. His Facebook account turned up, he says, and his passport was confiscated.

4 comments on "Fingerprinted and Facebooked at the Border"

  • rob sama says:

    Again, another reason not to have a Facebook account. So after using Facebook as a hub for all of one’s private communications and relationship mapping, you get forced to sign into your account, compromising your password and likely all your information stored on Facebook by a theocratic security guard. What’s more, all of your dissident friends who “friended” you are now pegged to be monitored.
    Seriously, if you want a web presence, get a website. And keep your address books private.

  • Dan Weber says:

    I don’t see how having a website makes you any safer than Facebook. They’ll demand access to the credentials that log you in there, as well.
    I’m not sure I even know my Facebook password.

  • kurt wismer says:

    i definitely don’t know my facebook password. i never did. it was randomly generated by password safe and i use password safe to enter the password for me when needed. if i’m not carrying my password safe with me i have no way to access such things. i wonder what they’d do if confronted by someone like me.

  • The simple solution is to have a fake FB account that shows up publicly. Any ‘real’ friends you have can be privately contacted to become friends with your Roger Kirchwood account.

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