The Government Wants to Know Your Social Media Handles—Here's Why
Travellers wanting to visit the United States could soon be asked a very personal and controversial question: What is your "social media identifier"? According to Politico, the government is searching for new ways to strengthen border security, and its latest measure could see travellers scrutinised or even turned away because of their digital presence.
Under the new proposal, I-94 and I-94W forms will ask visitors to "enter information associated with your online presence — Provider/Platform — Social media identifier." While this section of the form would be voluntary, it's hoped this information will help customs to vet visitors and establish potential terrorist threats.
"Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections," the new proposal reads. This move comes in the wake of the San Bernardino attack, which prompted a widespread call for the government to tighten its digital screening process.
While the proposal aims to improve security, some experts are concerned about the "big brother" implications. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, says it's "very unclear what [federal officials] plan to do" with the social media data they collect if the proposal is passed. He has also raised concern about how online comments will be monitored and acted upon. "There's a really horrible track record interpreting … comments on social media, and interpreting them as meaning grave threats," he told Politico.
The government is seeking feedback and comments on the new proposal over the next 60 days.
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