The News Today
__
9.19.19
Extreme Vetting

US Gov Now Collecting Social Media Handles of Visa Applicants

June 3rd 19__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Future Society
Emily Cho

Just @ Me

Before they can enter the United States, visa applicants will now need to let the government know what they’ve been up to on social media.

On Friday, a new policy went into effect requiring nearly all U.S. visa applicants to share information about any social media accounts they’ve had in the past five years. The State Department claims the move will improve national security — but opponents warn it’s an invasion of privacy that facilitates discrimination.

Security Threat

The Trump administration announced the plan to begin asking for visa applicants’ social media handles in March 2018. The new requirement is expected to affect nearly 15 million people in 2020 alone, but the State Department doesn’t seem to view it as being terribly remarkable.

“We already request certain contact information, travel history, family member information, and previous addresses from all visa applicants,” it said in a statement, according to The New York Times.

Penalizing People

However, American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project director Hina Shamsi sees things differently.

“This is a dangerous and problematic proposal,” she said, according to the NYT’s story, later adding that the U.S. has yet to prove its claims that social media could help it identify applicants who pose a threat to national security.

“In the absence of any such indicators,” she said, “what we’ve seen domestically and abroad is government officials penalizing people’s speech, religious affiliation, and other conduct.”

READ MORE: U.S. Requiring Social Media Information From Visa Applicants [The New York Times]

More on social media: The Government Wants to Make an Example out of Mark Zuckerberg