Visa Applicants to the United States to Submit Social Media Details

Experts say the solution lies in developing ethical principles regarding the analysis and use of data | AFP
Experts say the solution lies in developing ethical principles regarding the analysis and use of data | AFP

31 March, 2018

Donald Trump's administration had signalled plans for some visa applicants to be asked for social-media data.

The US Department of State wants to ask visa applicants to provide details on the social media accounts they've used in the past five years, as well as telephone numbers, email addresses, and global travel during this period.

The Department of State estimates that its revised visa process will affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants attempting to enter the USA; its more limited review of travelers flagged for additional screening only affected an estimated 65,000 people.

He says it could be a tough ask for tired travellers to accurately front up with so much information.

In turn, DHS established a task force for using social media to screen immigration applicants. "I'm not sure that everyone could remember every site that they have in the last five years".

The Obama administration also practiced monitoring visa applicants' accounts, but on a more limited and voluntary basis.

The information would be used to vet and identify them, which would affect about 14.7 million people annually.

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For the millions who seek a USA visa every year, giving up social media information and history may become a required step.

In the past, only social media, email and phone number history were required for one to get the visa.

The idea is subject to approval by the Office of Management and Budget.

The notice has also stated that the visa applicants would have to give their telephone numbers, email addresses and information on global travel to give evidence on whether they have a history of deportation from any country or whether their family members have been involved in any terror activities.

The new law will be officially published today and the public would have 60 days to comment on the proposed new visa form.

Civil liberties groups have condemned the policy as an invasion of privacy that could damage free speech.

In addition, visitors travelling on diplomatic and official visas will mostly be exempted. It could also conceivably include social-media platforms based overseas, like QQ and Weibo in China and VK in Russian Federation.

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