Last December, DHS started asking some foreign visitors for their social media account information. The request is ‘optional’.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram and others are on a list where visitors are asked to enter their account names. Note that they are not being asked for their passwords.
The Feds are trying hard to separate the bad guys from the good guys and this is just another piece of that process.
Of course, since you can have as many Facebook accounts as you care to create, I assume that only dumb terrorists will provide the account that says ‘death to infidels’ and the smart terrorists will provide the account that says ‘I love the USA’. Therefore, I am not sure that this will really help much.
The Internet Association, a lobbying group that represents companies like Google and Facebook is, not surprisingly, not pleased. They say it will discourage people from using their platforms and they will lose some ad revenue. Oh, wait, that’s not what they said. They said it threatened free expression and posed privacy and security risks to foreigners. Both are probably true.
The ACLU says that there are very few rules about how the data is collected, maintained and disseminated to various agencies. There are no guidelines or laws governing how the government uses that data or how long they keep it.
At least for the moment, Customs and Border Protection says that they won’t deny entry to those who don’t answer those questions.
Currently, the questions apply to people visiting from those 38 countries that participate in the visa waiver program – visitors from those countries who can visit for 90 days without a visa. Of course, it might expand it later.
It is also possible that other countries might follow the U.S.’s lead and ask for similar information.
Information for this post came from Politico.