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US Government Collecting Social Media Information From Foreign Travelers

The United States embassy has begun requesting social media handles from visa applicants as part of the new visa application questionnaire.
The questionnaire was rolled out in response to President Donald Trump's March 6 memo mandating enhanced visa screening.

The request functions as a prompt on the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or Esta, a visa waiver application that many visitors are required to submit before travelling to the US, therefore asking select foreign travelers to disclose their social media activities as part of an expanded effort to spot potential terrorist threats.  The choices include platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, and additional space for applicants to input their account names on those sites.

Five years worth of social media handles and biographical information (like passport numbers, addresses and travel histories)in addition to a person's contact details are some of the important information required to apply for the visa. 

 
  
The Customs and Border Protection which began the program last week, has previously said it wouldn't prohibit entry to foreigners who didn't provide their social media account information. According to the US official, consular officers can now demand extra information from applicants they deem to require “more rigorous national security vetting.”


“Such visa applicants will be asked to provide additional information, including their social media handles, prior passport numbers, additional information about family members, and a longer history of past travel, employment, and contact information,” Ms Camille Dawson said.
Nevertheless, she added, these changes will “affect only a fraction of one percent of the more than 13 million annual visa applicants worldwide.”
She added that consular officers will not ask for social media passwords, interact with individuals on social media, or attempt to circumvent their privacy settings.
According to the president of the Iranian American Bar Association, Babak Yousefzadeh“The United States has one of the most stringent visa application processes in the world. The need for tightening the application process further is really unknown and unclear.”

US Government Collecting Social Media Information From Foreign Travelers Reviewed by Osasogie Omoigui on 9:45 pm Rating: 5
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