Recently confirmed Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has proposed adding a requirement that all individuals looking to enter the country must give authorities their social media passwords. Secretary Kelly was discussing the President’s executive order on immigration with the House Homeland Security Committee when he said, “We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say? If they don’t want to cooperate then you don’t come in.”
This is not the first time vetting through social media has been considered as a part of the immigration process. Obama’s administration proposed an optional field for applicants to enter social media information, but a password requirement was not included.
Kelly went even further to state that his agency may even go after financial records. “We can follow the money, so to speak. How are you living, who’s sending you money?” he said. “It applies under certain circumstances, to individuals who may be involved in on the payroll of terrorist organizations.”
Information gathering from social media accounts is not likely to be an effective method of rooting out individuals with the intent of doing harm while in the country. Because fake social media accounts are as easy to create as opening a new email account, it’s unclear how requirements such as these will make the country safer, but they would most definitely erode privacy and civil liberty protections for countless innocent people.