DHS Steps Up Demands For Visa Applicants' Social Media Account Info
from the welcome-to-land-of-the-free,-sucker dept
The slow boil of ultra-intrusiveness at the border is underway. Americans apparently signed away a great deal of their rights in exchange for some national security, resulting in a Constitution-free zone extending inland 100 miles from the nation’s borders. Visitors and visa holders are in for a much more revealing experience upon arrival, although they’ll be on the only ones doing the revealing.
The DHS has floated several ideas over the last several months, ranging from “voluntary” requests for social media account info to straight-up demanding account passwords. The vetting of newcomers and visitors is moving towards the “extreme” end of the dial, with the DHS finally formalizing the first part of its list of demands.
Foreigners applying for a visa to enter the US will now be asked to turn over their social media handles for the past five years, as well as biographical information — including email addresses and phone numbers — for the past 15 years.
The new form says nothing about its voluntary nature until the very last sentence of the fine print on the second page. Presumably, the DHS is hoping applicants will fill the whole thing out before getting to the statements saying they don’t have to. The wording also hints not filling out the form completely will result in a less favorable review of the application. The terms “delay” and “denial” are placed in very close proximity to the word “voluntary.”
And even if applicants opt out, the government still has the power to remove the voluntary aspect of the social media account info requests.
The agency added that consular officials… will have free rein to demand applicants to turn over their information who they believe may “warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.”
The government’s filing states officials will not request account passwords, at least not at this time. That is still subject to change and DHS head John Kelly has already hinted at this demand’s inevitability. And that only covers this form. There will be no box on this form for social media passwords, but that doesn’t specifically forbid officials and/or CBP/ICE agents from hinting things will run smoother and faster with the right kind of voluntary cooperation.