The State Department Wants Foreign Visa Applicants’ Social Media Account Info
The State Department has released a proposal that requires foreign visitors, as well as people hoping to immigrate to the US, to provide the links to various social media accounts in order to obtain visas, according to The Hill.
The department quietly released the proposal ahead of a Friday publication of documents outlining potential new rules and regulations surrounding access to visas. Under the proposal, applicants for immigrant and tourist visas would be required to disclose what the department calls “identifiers.” These identifiers include social media handles and accounts, email addresses and old phone numbers used within the last five years.
This move is part of the broader plan by the Trump administration to vet people hoping to enter the country more thoroughly, and it’s definitely extreme. Previously, the Obama administration wanted greater access to social media accounts in wake of the San Bernadino shootings, but this proposal is even more rigorous. Although the change isn’t official yet, the announcement precedes the 60-day period in which the public can state its opinions on the proposed change via the State Department website.
Although the administration will only be asking or account handles and not passwords, last year former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said that password requests could be a possibility in the future.
“[It’s] so that we can see what they do on the internet,” Kelly said during a hearing. “And this might be a week, might be a month. They may wait some time for us to vet. If they don’t want to give us that information then they don’t come.”
Last year, the ACLU declared that the government’s monitoring of social media is a detriment to free speech, arguing that when the government targets keywords used by people online, innocent people can be wrongly targeted and that, above all else, it becomes very easy for the government to misuse or abuse its power.
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