To ‘identify potential threats’
The US Customs and Border Protection has started demanding that foreign travelers hand over Facebook, Twitter, and other social media account information upon entering the country, according to a report from Politico. The new policy follows a proposal laid out back in June and applies only to those travelers who enter the US temporarily without a visa through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, process. The goal, the government says, is to “identify potential threats,” a spokesperson tells Politico.
The new policy went into effect on Tuesday, and the request is currently “optional.” It asks foreign travelers to “enter information associated with your online presence,” and offers a drop-down menu allowing participants to enter in account names for most major social networks, including LinkedIn and even Google+.
It’s unclear if the information collected can be immediately used to deny travelers entry into the US. However, the express purpose of the collection is to identify individuals with ties to terrorist groups. As it stands today, Customs and Border Protection says it will not deny entry to those that refuse to submit any social media information.
Still, the implementation of such a controversial policy has enraged human rights activists and technology companies. Members of both communities expressed concern when the policy was first proposed this past summer. At the time, industry lobbying group the Internet Association, which represents companies like Facebook and Google, joined with the ACLU to condemn the proposal for its potential free speech and privacy violations.
These groups fear that the request for social media info, although voluntary, will urge members of marginalized groups from the Middle East and elsewhere to fill out the information for fear of being denied entry. It could then be highly scrutinized, activists say, without clear and transparent guidelines. The policy could also lead to potential abuses and even security risks as the information is collected and stored by the government.
This new form of data collection happens to arrive just one month before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, who on Wednesday seemingly renewed his call for a ban on Muslims entering the US following the bus attack in Berlin. Just yesterday, it was also revealed that data-mining firm Palantir, which was co-founded by Trump advisor Peter Thiel, has worked with the US Customs and Border Protection to track immigrants and foreign travelers using a wide variety of data gleaned from law enforcement databases. Social media account information could aid in this process.
Well this is terrible news. This will only lead to more secret accounts and the requirements of phone information being dumped to a registry as you enter so they can verify identity.
There is a few issues with this. One is that if they ask for a password, even if you refuse and your profile is private, friends could give up your information because they have access, and secondly that the government will set up some kind of social score system as we have seen China propose. Either way its fascism via the back door.
Totally unacceptable. Cannot believe we are all being dragged in the net. Goddamit I wish I could speak my mind but don’t want to be banned.
Well that is the last time I use ESTA to come ot the USA, I only just got into the country by a few days before this.
What is really concerning for the future is if you don’t use social media, my FB is nearly 2years absent and set to private, i only keep it for rare FB messenger needs. Will the private mark make me seem like I am hiding something. Will the lack of use be seen as evidence of something else.
What of services we set up accounts on to test if it is of use or to secure our ID and nothing more
Will a person even remember all possible services or handles – will they search and then decide you have lied simply by forgetting.
Will they believe "I dont use social media services" even if you don’t. I doubt it, another concealment most likely.
Actually, i might use ESTA next time and find out what happens
"hand over Facebook, Twitter, and other social media"
Whoa whoa whoa…hold on!!! that’s my girl friend’s job.
The US has never been the land of freedom and now it’s even less !
So excited that my country is becoming what my parents use to tell me Russia was like.
Wondering if I’ll be denied entry, because I recommended your comment.
So, how is this new? I went to the States in 2006 and 2008. Both times i went to see my best friend, but the first time i was married and went with my then wife, and the second time I was divorced so I went alone. The second time, I was taken apart for an extra security check. I live in the Netherlands, but i have an arabic sounding name (i’m part maroccan, part dutch). I was taken to a big waiting room in the airport (Detroid), and was then called to a desk where a TSA agent asked me for my email adres, asked me to log in to my gmail account, started reading my email and asked me question about those emails (Who is so-and-so, what’s your relationship with this person, etc). I was let go after about an hour or so and almost missed my connected flight. Remember, this was 2008. So how is this now a new thing?