Categories: News

U.S. Government Now Asking For Social Media Infor During Visa Application

Wishing to set foot in the land of opportunity, then perhaps you should consider censoring your social media posts. As proposed in March 2018, the United States government will require all visa applicants to provide their social media account names for the past five years in a move meant to improve its national security.

The mandate only covers a list of selected services, although residents and potential visitors are required to volunteer infor if they belong to social media sites not mentioned in the form as a show of good faith.

On top of info like travel status and any family involvement in terrorism, applicants are also required to give out vital info like email addresses and phone numbers that one has been using for the past 5 years. However, some diplomats and officials are exempted from these rigorous requirements.

The U.S. had previously restricted these requirements to people emigrating from terrorist-controlled areas but has since extended it to the rest of the world. The government hopes to use this method to verify identities as well as spot extremists who’ve previously discussed their ideologies online.

The government has, however, faced a barrage of criticism since it first floated the idea last summer. Privacy rights activists say there are few guidelines about how the information, once obtained, is used or shared with other agencies.

The proposal filed with the US Federal Register states that the collection of social media data was intended to “enhance the existing investigative process and provide Department of Homeland Security (DHS) greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional toolset which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case”.

While the measure Is sure to affect millions of people seeking visa’s each day, its effectiveness is still unclear. This has forced the state Department to announce punitive actions for those thinking of giving dishonest responses.

An official said that applicants could face “serious immigration consequences” if they were caught lying, but it’s not certain that they’ll be found out in a timely fashion.

The policy requires all applicants to divulge their private social media information (particularly private accounts) to government staff.

The Internet Association, which represents companies including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, has argued that policy threatens free expression.

The US government approves around 10m visa applications a year and had 77.5 million foreign visitors in 2015. Collecting social media accounts for all visitors could produce one of the largest government-controlled databases of its kind almost overnight.

Sammy Brown

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