The US department of Homeland Security told congress this week, that as part of the new extreme vetting requirements introduced by President Trump for visitor’s from 7 mostly Muslim countries, they are considering asking visa applicants for their social media passwords.
Secretary John Kelly told congress.
“We may want to get on their social media, with passwords. It’s very hard to truly vet these people in these countries, the seven countries,”
“But if they come in, we want to say, what websites do they visit, and give us your passwords. So we can see what they do on the internet. If they truly want to come to America, then they will co-operate. If not, next in line.”
The Obama administration had the idea of asking for social media information but had made it voluntary and only asked for account names and not passwords. Where as this proposed move it a big step up from that making it mandatory.
I am not sure that the proposal has really been thought through though as any would be terrorist could just create a clean Twitter or Facebook account and not ‘like’ ISIS or tweet about beheadings on them and by pass these checks. It may also peanalise none social media users who homeland security think are ‘hiding’ their accounts and refuse a visa when they say they don’t use Facebook and Twitter.
There is also the danger of mission creep. Today it is just for these seven nations but in a few years they could say it will be applied to any visa applicant who they need to do enhanced checks on, no matter what country they are from.