The U.S. has begun asking selected foreign travellers for their facebook, twitter, instagram, LinkedIn and any other social media account info in a bid to spot possible terrorist threats and deny entry to anyone who may be involved with terrorist groups.
Although providing the info is voluntary, Nation White, Senior Legislative Manager at digital rights group Access Now, says, “The process to enter the U.S. is confusing, and it’s likely that most visitors will fill out the card completely rather than risk additional questions from intimidating, uniformed officers,” said Nation White, senior legislative manager at digital rights group Access Now.
The optional request will be directed at those arriving to the U.S. on the visa waiver program which allows travellers from 38 countries to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. The request includes a drop-down menu when filling out the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). That section lists social sites like Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as a space for users to input their account information.
The border security agency has said that those who do not provide their social media account information will not be prohibited from entering the U.S.
The ACLU, Center for Democracy and Technology has stated that the policy poses vast privacy risks, since social media profiles serve as “gateways into an enormous amount of [users’] online expression and associations, which can reflect highly sensitive information about that person’s opinions, beliefs, identity and community. The organization also said the policy would “fall hardest on Arab and Muslim communities, whose usernames, posts, contacts and social networks will be exposed to intense scrutiny.”