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Caribbean, Latin American Visiting Immigrants May Have To Hand Over Social Media Passwords

Published on Feb 08 2017, at 7:53 pm

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US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testified before Congress this week that foreign travelers coming to the United States could be required to give up social media passwords to border officials as a condition of entry.

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. Feb. 9, 2017: It’s going to get tougher for immigrants, including nationals from the Caribbean and Latin America, trying to simply visit the U.S. under the Donald Trump administration.

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testified before Congress this week that foreign travelers coming to the United States could be required to give up social media passwords to border officials as a condition of entry.

“We want to say, for instance, which websites do you visit, and give us your passwords, so we can see what they do on the internet,” he said at a Feb. 7 House Homeland Security hearing, his first congressional hearing since his Senate confirmation.

Kelly, a Trump appointee, stressed, however, that asking for people’s passwords was just one of “the things that we’re thinking about” and that none of the suggestions were concrete.

“These are the things we’re thinking about,” he said. “We can ask them for this kind of information, and if they truly want to come into America, then they’ll cooperate. If not, you know, next in line.”

The previous administration had already introduced social-media screening for from travelers visiting the U.S. under the visa waiver program.  In December, the DHS began asking visitors from mostly European nations with visa free travel to voluntarily provide details of their social-media accounts – but not passwords.

Under the current screening system, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service includes a query on its Electronic System for Travel Authorization form for individuals seeking entrance to the country under a visa waiver program, asking them to provide information identifying their social media accounts.

The electronic form provides a pull-down menu that includes a number of major social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube; it also asks for user names, screen names, or other identifying information.

Requesting passwords, as contemplated by Gen. Kelly, would be a more intensive form of social media vetting.


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