US to collect social media history from visa applicants

Published: March 30, 2018 22:05:47 | Updated: April 03, 2018 11:08:42

The United States plans to collect social media identities from nearly everyone who seeks entry into the country.

The proposal of US State Department was published in the Federal Registrar on Friday, reports Reuters.

The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal before the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approves or rejects it.

The proposal requires most immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants to list on a federal application form all of the social media identities they have used in the past five years.

The information will be used to vet and identify them, according to the proposals, which would affect about 14.7 million people annually.

Previously, under rules instituted in May of 2017, consular officials were instructed to collect social media identifiers only when they determined that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting.

The State Department said then that the tighter vetting would apply only to those “who have been determined to warrant additional scrutiny in connection with terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities.”

The proposals support President Donald Trump’s promise to institute “extreme vetting” of foreigners entering the United states in order to prevent terrorism.

If approved, the measures also will require applicants to submit five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses and their international travel history.

They will be asked if they have been deported or removed from any country and whether family members have been involved in terrorist activities, the department said.

The department said it intends not to routinely ask most diplomatic and official visa applicants for the additional information.

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